Dishonest Ads Are No Laughing Matter -- Or Are They?

Advertising Watchdog Uses Humor in Push To Get Consumers To Combat Untruthful Claims

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Advertising watchdog TruthInAdvertising.org will launch its first national advertising campaign early next week aiming to get consumers to report false advertising and marketing.

Using humor to gain support, the spot features people uttering the kind of truths they normally wouldn't dare say out loud, such as a man telling a woman her tush looks too big or a driver nonchalantly admitting to an officer that he's been driving 20 miles over the speed limit. Folks are seen repeatedly singing "The truth's not always easy..." with a closing message that drives home the point: "But in advertising, it's the law."

The ads were created by creative director Jonathan Cranin, formerly of McCann, who led MasterCard's "Priceless" campaign and directed by Justin Reardon, who co-created Budweiser's "Whassup" ads. They will run in display, digital, and video forms in major newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, in addition to Google ads and social-media sites including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Zito Partners, New York, is the agency.

Founded in 2012 and funded by Karen Pritzker and Michael Vlock's Seedlings Foundation, the organization says it "uses investigative journalism, education, and advocacy to empower consumers to protect themselves and one another against false advertising and deceptive marketing." The group claims that in its first full year it sparked four legal actions, more than 200 ad alerts, more than 200 news articles and blog posts, reports on 232 false-advertising class actions and three petitions.

"Our mission is to empower consumers to protect themselves against false advertising" said Bonnie Patten, exec director of TINA.org. "We used humor about a very serious subject in order to get people interested and look at our website."

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