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Philosophy 305: Business Ethics and Public Policy

Essay II: False Advertising

Write an essay, type-written, no more than 4-pages in length (4 pages is the maximum),

with 12-point font, 1.5 spacing between lines, and standard margins in which you

answer prompts (I), (II), and (III) completely. Essays are worth 100 points: 90 for

content, and 10 for grammar. Essays are due by the beginning of class on Saturday,

November 3. The late penalty is: -20 points each 1 week (each Saturday) your essay is

late, no exceptions. You may turn in a paper copy of the essay, or email your essay to

me as an attachment at but the deadline applies in real time: If I

do not have, cannot open or print, your essay by the start of class on November 3, it

receives the late penalty, even if you sent it on time. Once I print an essay, I will reply to

let you know I have it.

(I) Choose 2 of the 3 advertisements (Coolsculpting, LifeLock, and Super Beta Prostate)

and find 3 separate deceptions in each. Prove each of those 3 deceptions are in fact

misleading and deceptive, first by quoting the entire portion you are using as presented

here, and then by analyzing exactly why those exact words mislead a reasonable

consumer. What would a reasonable consumer assume based on those exact words?

What is implied and what is really the case? Explain. (Do not use any other ad or online

source of information for this essay. Analyze exactly the words given here and no

others. Do not use any online research to make your case. Use only facts and principles

known by any reasonable and informed person.)

(II) For the Loreal Shampoo ad, create a government regulation which would extend to

all such ads: How should the government regulate all such ads to ensure they are not

deceptive or misleading but in fact genuine and true depictions of the product? Explain.

(III) Describe an ad (radio, TV, internet, magazine, or billboard) you find to be a false

advertisement based solely on the ad itself. Give a description sufficient for a reader of

your essay to understand the ad. Do not portray a product you purchased which failed

or didn’t live up to expectations. You are describing an advertisement which itself

(without buying the product) is deceptive. What makes it a deceptive ad?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Act, advertising must be truthful and non-

deceptive to be legal. Advertisements are deceptive if they contain information which is

likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably. The FTC reviews ads from the vantage

point of a “reasonable consumer.” Considering at individual words and phrases, entire

sentences, images, and the context of the ad, if an explicit or an implied claim in an

advertisement is misleading or deceptive to a reasonable viewer, the ad is considered

false and illegal. The advertisement deceives if it causes a reasonable customer to

believe something that is false or extremely unlikely (given a basic understanding of the

world). Puffery, however, is legal: “Smoothest shave,” “greatest movie,” “happiest place on earth”: such superlatives are considered to be exaggerations or opinions that

are obviously exaggerations or opinions to a reasonable consumer. They are not

considered to be misrepresentations since everyone knows “best cereal ever” is not a


CoolSculpting Advertisement:


renowned Harvard University scientists, Dieter Manstein, MD and R. Rox Anderson, MD.

CoolSculpting technology was born of the observation that some children got dimples

due to eating popsicles. The idea that cold can selectively affect fat cells was the insight

behind Cryolipolysis, the proven science on which CoolSculpting is based. CoolSculpting

is the coolest, most innovative, non-surgical way to lose those annoying bumps and

bulges of stubborn fat. This revolutionary technology targets and cools unwanted fat

cells in the selected area to induce a noticeable, natural-looking reduction in fat

bulges. Unlike most other methods of fat reduction, CoolSculpting involves no needles,

no surgery, or downtime. Patients often spend procedure time reading, working on their

laptops, or simply relaxing. It’s safe, FDA-cleared, and effective. Results look natural and

can be seen as early as three weeks following treatment, with the most dramatic results

after one to three months.

LifeLock Advertisement:

Protecting Against Identity Theft: Not only do we monitor your personal information

within our extensive network for new credit and non-credit applications and address

changes, but also we search known criminal websites for illegal selling of your personal

information. LifeLock Ultimate protection–the most comprehensive protection

available–includes all standard LifeLock protection services to scan for identity threats,

plus adds nationwide monitoring for payday loans and expanded surveillance for the

opening of new checking and savings accounts. We review each attempt to misuse your

identity, and proactively contact you anytime we detect an exposure or threat. LifeLock

Ultimate protection goes one step further–if we detect a change to the contact

information on your bank accounts, we’ll contact you to help correct the situation fast.

If you become a victim of identity theft while you are a LifeLock member we will spend

up to $1 million to hire experts, lawyers, investigators, consultants and whatever else it

takes to help your recovery.

Super Beta Prostrate Advertisement:

America’s #1 Prostate Supplement. Claim your free bottle! Supplies are very limited.

The Life-Changing Formula. The product no man with frequent urination problems

should be without. Features and Benefits: Fewer bathroom trips. Sleep More through

the night. Support more complete bladder emptying. Feel younger and more energetic.

“Before Super Beta Prostate, I couldn’t sleep through the night. I heard a commercialon the radio for Super Beta Prostate and decided to order my free bottle. Now I am sleeping through the night. I am really happy.” –Ron. “It’s kind of embarrassing, if

you’re riding in a car with some people, all of the sudden, you’ve got this urge to go to

the bathroom. Like going to the ballgame or something, and to keep making these trips

to the bathroom. There are no physical risks to taking Super Beta Prostate. Try it, you

know. You will be amazed with the results from it.” –William. Super Beta Prostate has

long been the most trusted supplement for men’s prostate health. Over 5 million

bottles have shipped in the last 10 years, and it continues to be a national best-seller.

From the tremendous feedback we’ve received, it’s clear why this natural supplement is

so popular: men tell their friends about the life-changing benefits they experience.

Why Super Beta Prostate? Your prostate starts as just a little gland, but as you get older

it can have a big impact on your quality of life! That might be why so many men over 40

experience changes in their bathroom habits: they need to go much more each day. A

lot of men also notice they’re waking up at night once, twice or more to urinate. If this

sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. Super Beta Prostate is a nonprescription,

natural supplement made with powerful ingredients. It was made for men like you who

want a safe and effective way to support their prostate health. “Now, I sleep through

the night. I don’t have any sudden urges to go to the bathroom. It worked!” Super

Beta Prostate is a natural dietary supplement, and it’s made with some of the best

available ingredients for prostate care. Beta-sitosterol is found in nearly every plant,

and it’s an inactive ingredient found in saw palmetto berries. Super Beta Prostate was

specially formulated with a concentrated amount of beta-sitosterol.

Loreal Shampoo and Conditioner Ad

TV advertisement (30 seconds long): Jennifer Lopez (“J Lo”) is shown with beautiful,

long, flowing, almost glowing brown-red hair (with additional highlights?). She then

turns and looks at the camera and says your hair also deserves Loreal shampoo and