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Examples of misleading advertising

Do you ever see ads for a product that looks too good to be true? The problem could be that the ads are misleading, selling something that the product cannot deliver.

Of course, this can look vastly different from one product to the next. To get an idea of how it works, let's take a look at a few famous examples:

  • Volkswagen marketed diesel cars as an environmentally-friendly option that produced low emissions when the reality was just that they spent years cheating on the emissions tests. The Federal Trade Commission said: "Volkswagen deceived consumers by selling or leasing more than 550,000 diesel cars based on false claims that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly."
  • Kellogg said that Rice Krispies could help kids have a stronger immune system since it contained"25% daily value of antioxidants and nutrients — Vitamins A, B, C and E." This made parents think it was a healthy choice for kids, like giving them vitamins. The FTC had to step in and tell them to stop that marketing campaign.
  • New Balance claimed specific shoes would burn more calories than the competition. This seemed odd, so follow-up studies were done, and they did not find that the shoes helped people burn extra calories or get in shape. New Balance had to pay out in excess of $2 million.

One key takeaway here is that major companies get embroiled in false advertising campaigns. These are companies people trust. They're long-established brands -- and they're brands that still exist even after the scandals. This shows just how important it is to keep an eye out for consumer fraud and to know what legal steps to take when it impacts you.

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