Truth in Advertising

It was hardly mentioned in the media, but on December 1, 2009, sweeping, extensive and unprecedented new Federal Trade Commission regulations went into effect. The rules purported to make advertising more truthful by functionally outlawing ads from using any happy customers’ success stories to sell a product, unless they represent results that all customers achieve. That’s an impossible standard, of course, since most buyers of exercise equipment quickly move it to the garage, most dieters don’t obey the diet; and most buyers of everything do nothing with it.

These rules greatly expand the FTC’s authority, change a long-settled principle of advertising law (that allows customers’ exceptional results shown with disclaimers, such as “not typical – individual results vary”), cripple entire industries, and will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, send many marketing firms offshore, and hand unfair advantage to foreign-based online marketers beyond reach of the FTC.  I won’t bore you with any more of the gory details.

Too bad all this rabid enthusiasm for truth in advertising doesn’t extend a few blocks from the FTC’s offices to the White House.

Yes, every politician lies, especially when campaigning, and we are told we should accept that incidental dishonesty as normal and customary. Sort of like a little fender-bender in a parking lot. Nothing to get hot and bothered over. But candidate and then President Obama has taken false advertising to soaring new heights.

One of my faves is the TV ad he ran against Sen. McCain, characterizing McCain’s proposal to levy a tax on private health insurance plans as the largest middle-class tax increase in American history. With McCain safely back in the senate, that’s precisely the same kind of tax written into Obama’s health care reform bill – exactly the kind of tax he was forced to defend when organized labor leaders screamed bloody murder about it impacting the “Cadillac” health plans of their members.

(My wife, incidentally, pays for her own health insurance and it is anything but a ‘Cadillac plan,’ It includes a $2,500.00 deductible, and lifetime caps, But since it costs $800.00 a month, it qualifies under tthe Senate bill, for a 40 percent tax: $320.00 x 12 = a $3,840.00 increase in annual cost.)

That sort of false advertising would land a private citizen in jail. But let’s not be troubled by Obama’s two-facedness on it. Another goodie: Obama’s criticism of Bill and Hillary, in ads, for conducting health reform scheming behind closed doors, and his repeated promise in ads and speeches to make all such negotiations transparent. He would even have them televised on C-span, so we could all watchdog the wheeling ‘n dealing for ourselves.

What about his much ballyhooed promise of no lobbyists in his White House or crafting legislation he would sign? When he advertised himself as a new sheriff campaigning for the job, he neglected mentioning that he’d have to make a few exceptions to this angelic ideal.

He has told less truth in his first year of rule than the balloon-boy’s dad.

Most conservatives are not at all disappointed by Obama as Biggest Liar Ever, In Chief.  Outraged by his arrogance and obvious contempt for the public and for the rule of law? You bet. But not disappointed. We knewwho it was that had his eyes on the Presidency: a Chicago-rooted, smoke-filled back room style pol, a liar and faker, and a dangerous megalomaniac to boot. We knew Bill Clinton was right, when he called Obama a fairy tale.

We fully expected all the destruction and all the lying.

It’s the liberals who bought his act, hook, line and sinker, who are awash in disappointment, embarrassment and humiliation. They believed he was different. That he would respect them in the morning. They are discovering the only way he’s different. He’s worse.

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, adviser to business owners, sought-after speaker and author of 13 books. More information about Dan can be found at, and a free collection of his business resources including newsletters and webinars at

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