If Your Ad Claims 'Save More Every Time You Shop,' Does That Need To Be True?

from the questions-for-the-ages dept

Two supermarkets based in the northeast are involved in a legal dispute after one of them, Stop & Shop, put out an advertisement with the tagline “Save More Every Time You Shop.” Competing market A&P (which few people remember actually stands for The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company) is complaining that it’s false advertising to say that you’ll save every time. While I generally tend to have a problem with false advertising claims, you do have to wonder if a throwaway line like the one here actually leads anyone to believe that “every time” they go to this one store, they’ll save money. A&P does have a few more specific claims about the details of the ads, which show two shoppers who apparently saved a certain amount compared to the same items bought at a nearby A&P (including the fact that they have no records of bills in the amount in question at the local shops on the days the comparison was supposedly made). Those might have a bit more sway, but it seems like a silly tagline is unlikely to really lead to any actual harm in terms of people believing it to be true.

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Companies: a&p, stop & shop

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Comments on “If Your Ad Claims 'Save More Every Time You Shop,' Does That Need To Be True?”

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Scote (profile) says:

I have to disagree with you. I’m not a big fan of the idea that exaggerated claims should be exempt from regulation.

If you don’t mean “unlimited” minutes, for instance, then don’t say “unlimited”. If you don’t mean that people actually **will** “save more every time” they shop then don’t say that. The advertiser can easily add proper qualifiers to the slogan. There is no sound reason why they shouldn’t, nor any sound reason why they shouldn’t have to only make true claims.

Cynyr (profile) says:

but wouldn’t it then be okay to claim “unlimited internet” as 95% of our customers won’t notice it not being unlimited. I generally assume that anything that makes an claim like “unlimited” or “every” or some other such thing is lying. I do think that if i want Comcast to not use “unlimited” that all other such claims should also go away, or Comcast gets to keep its not quite unlimited “unlimited”.

justok (profile) says:

I’m thinking worded poorly is the intent of the ad tagline…they mean “On any given shopping occasion, you’ll save more if you shop with us than if you shop with them.” Otherwise, they are implying some sort of progressive savings increase.

Maybe one day there’ll be a Grammar Association empowered to sue people and businesses for violations of write rights.

Bob Bunderfeld (profile) says:


The difference in the Comcast ad is the *. That’s right, look close on the screen when they run that ad and notice that there’s an asterisk after the word Unlimited. Now, this is true in the Midwest where I live, and I think it’s probably true where most live too.

I agree that if you say something in an ad, and you MEANT to say it, then you should be held to it. Let’s not get silly and say if someone was doing a Live Commercial spot and they said the first 50 people get a free car when they mean to say that the first 50 people get a chance at a free car, then you can’t hold them to that. Actually we do have laws stating that exact thing, no matter how many times Best Buy Web Content personnel put Terrabyte drives on sale for $1.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Comcast*

I actually think your argument is BS. I don’t care what you meant to say; I care what you actually said.

Also, I don’t think you should be allowed to use asterisks (*) on marketing material.

As Americans, we are feed an endless stream of lies on a daily basis. Everything from diet pills to cell phone plans, come with 10 pages of contractual conditions and people have increasingly begun to accept this as OK. Soon (if not already) it will be almost impossible for anyone to get through a given week without running afoul of some type of fee, service charge, overage, or accidental purchase of a misleading product (think Worlds Best Dish Detergent*).

*product contains no soap or cleaning materials of any kind, no guarantee of satisfaction is intended, meant, or implied. Product not suitable for use on surfaces which will be used to prepare, store, or serve food. May contain trace elements of the following: lead, poison, horse manure, human hair, and milk.

Scote (profile) says:

What the big print giveth, the little print may not taketh away

identicon Bob Bunderfeld, Aug 16th, 2010 @ 9:10pm

The difference in the Comcast ad is the *. “

Except that is wrong, too. Generally, the FTC holds that what the big print giveth, the little print may not taketh away. Clearly saying “UNLIMITED” in big print and then saying “*not actually unlimited” in tiny print is a violation of that principle, and it is an important principle since saying one thing (“N”) in big print and then saying the opposite (“Not N”) in little print is a deliberate misrepresentation, aka, a deliberate lie, one not materially different than crossing your fingers when lying.

Charlie Potatoes (profile) says:

Truth in advertising

I passed a new beauty salon opening in the Asian part of Richardson, Texas. On a portable sign by the street were the words “Blow jobs … $5.” By the time I got turned around, parked, and made it to the door, several guys were ahead of me at the entrance. But Richardson Police, who came to sort out the traffic jam, said that the owners could not be forced to give us the blow jobs when it was obvious that they meant “Blow drys”. But everyone I talked to that day said that they believed it was a $5 blow job that they were offering. I think they should have honored their ad.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do hate misleading ad’s but I don’t think the state or any other entity should force anyone to be honest, what I think it should happen is that people should be free to picket in front of the store and say they are liars, people should be able to say the store is a lying about and not fear prosecution, that is why I also think laws about defamation are a bad idea.

Let people sort it out, it may not be pretty, but it force them to define unspoken rules and be vigilant.

okwhen (profile) says:

Bull and plenty of it

This is precisely what is wrong in the US today. Children witness their parents and others telling lies during their impressionable stage and grow up thinking that this is normal. Everywhere we look we see lies and hear lies. Advertising is only the tip of the iceberg. Politicians lie to obtain office and continue the practice until death. What was once considered an out right lie is now the new baseline for the truth.

If you read a new story on six different networks you will receive six different versions even though they obtained the information from the same place, for instance the AP. I guess Christians are failing in bible school these days or they have all decided the hocus-pocus is bull.

Porkster says:

And junk food.

Fast food companies have been lying for years, look at the advertising for a Big Mac, now look at the burger you purchased. A Universe apart. KFC chicken doesn’t really bulge out of the bucket and doesn’t look like the ad. And mash potato and gravy. I’ve never see it like in the photo. Is the whopper really that big, no I’ve never seen lettuce like that in my burger!

It’s no wonder that our kids are fat!

Lies are everywhere in advertising. Time to make a change!

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