Ch. 7: False Advertising: Don't Back Your Client's False Claims!
Pt. 1: Case Study: FTC Stings Sony and its Ad Agency for "Game Changing" Claim
When Sony (NYSE: SNE) launched an ad campaign claiming that its new handheld gaming system had "game-changing" technology, the company and its ad agency, Deutsch , Los Angeles, had no idea the mess they were about to get in.
The hand-held gaming system Vita boasted of new technology that would allow gamers to start a game on their PlayStation, pause it, and pick up where they left off on their mobile device. The FTC, however, found that claim wasn't 100-percent accurate and took exception with the way Sony was using its social media. Here's where Sony's advertising agency messed up:
- While the Vita let users play across platforms, only some games had this function. Their "game-changing" claim was only partially true. And that was enough for the FTC to file a false advertising claim against Sony and its advertising agency.
- Ad agency Deutsch, Los Angeles wanted its employees to promote the new device on their personal social media, using the Twitter hashtag #gamechanger. Here's the problem: the agency employees didn't disclose on their social media that they were employees of the company that represented Sony. The FTC argued that this was potentially misleading to customers.
In an age of social media, advertising and marketing professionals need to be cautious about their claims. Social media often blurs the lines of advertising and marketing, but the FTC enforces those lines. So be careful!
Next: Pt. 2: False Advertising Dos and Don'ts to Help You Avoid Lawsuits