Buyer Beware: Don’t Believe Everything You See on TV

Posted on: 07-23-2014

Buyer Beware: Don’t Believe Everything You See on TV

We love Dr. Oz as much as anybody. He does a great job simplifying complicated health news. He seems so warm and caring. It can be easy to believe that any product he endorses must be really great.

But the good doctor was recently called to appear before Congress, answering all sorts of uncomfortable questions about the truth behind claims he made for various diet products. He hemmed and hawed a bit, and instantly reminded us of something we all learned as kids: Don’t believe everything you see on TV. 

That’s always good advice, and you would think advertisers would be careful to avoid making false claims. Think again. Even though we can all troll the Internet to research their claims, post complaints about their products, and read others’ reviews, TV remains full of people who just might be crossing their fingers behind their backs.

Remember Jamie Lee Curtis’ original ads for Activia, claiming the yogurt had super-strength ingredients that made it healthier than all others? False. Activia was just like any other yogurt (and now there’s a lot of cynicism about all those pro-biotic claims you see everywhere). Consumers sued Dannon, the company paid millions in damages, and Curtis took a hit to her reputation. When it comes to advertising on TV, every profession has its own code of conduct. Medical professionals adhere to privacy rules that fall under HIPPA. Lawyers in South Carolina are governed by BAR rules that outline what can – and shouldn’t – be said or done on television.

Many firms work hard to adhere to those rules, and the same can be said of products that refuse to make false claims. In the cases of Dr. Oz, Jamie Lee Curtis, and countless others, citizens ultimately questioned their claims and brought them to the attention of legislators. See something on TV that’s too good to be true? Then it probably is.

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