Advertising has awesome power, and sometimes that power is not used all for the good," Iowa Attorney General says.
WASHINGTON, DC.-- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was guest speaker today at the 13th Annual "Harlan Page Hubbard Lemon Awards," a ceremony organized by national consumer and health organization to recognize what the groups consider some of the most misleading, unfair, and irresponsible ad campaigns of 1997.
"The Lemon awards are fun, but they carry a very serious message," Miller said. "Every year, consumers are invited to spend billions of dollars on products and services that are misrepresented, that undermine good health, and that sometimes are downright dangerous."
The public interest groups present "winners" with a "Hubbard" -- a bronze-colored victory statuette grasping a fresh lemon. For example, the groups cited a Cadillac television ad they said was irresponsible for showing its new Catera model illegally crossing a double yellow line to pass other cars. Nine ads received "Hubbards."
The groups recognized Sprint, saying the company advertised free phone calls on Monday nights without disclosing a variety of hidden restrictions, including that the free Monday night calls were limited to the month of November for current Sprint customers.
Groups behind the Hubbard Lemon Awards this year are the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Center for Auto Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence, National Council of Senior Citizens, National Women's Health Network, and US Public Interest Research Group.
The groups say the Hubbard Awards are named after the 19th-century advertising impresario who pioneered the use of deceptive advertising techniques on a national scale.
The groups conduct the ceremony in "Oscar"-like fashion at the National Press Club in Washington.
In his remarks as guest speaker, Iowa Attorney General Miller said the public interest organizations were trying to recognize ads with qualities such as "excellence in deception" and "outstanding performance in an irresponsible role."
"Advertising has awesome power, and sometimes that power is not used all for the good," Miller said. "When it is misused or abused, advertising can be unfair and unscrupulous, misleading or deceptive."
"Deceptive ads also cheat honest businesses that treat consumers fairly," Miller added. "Deceptive ads undermine the principle of a level playing field for all business."
Miller is past Chair of the Consumer Protection Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and now chairs the Antitrust Committee and the FTC/States Working Group of NAAG.
"Action against deceptive advertising long has been a focus of multi-state action by the State Attorneys General, often in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission," Miller said. "We know that by working together we can bring more pressure to bear against national retailers or manufacturers who use misleading health claims, who falsely tout their products as being friendly to the environment, who hide consumer costs, or who try to mislead Americans in some other way."