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Nissan has been running a commercial showing their truck snowboarding down a mountain and executing a barrel roll. Below this impossible stunt, the commercial super-imposes the disclaimer: "Fantasy. Trucks can't snowboard. Do not attempt." The font is small and white, overlaying a background of white snow. Clearly, Nissan wants me to be able to read this.
Why is Nissan allowed to run this commercial at all? The Federal Trade Commission Act requires that "advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive." But there is no truth in this advertisement; Nissan admits as much in their disclaimer. Is it not deceptive to show a car doing something that it cannot do if you put small, hidden text on the screen contradicting what you are seeing? If that's the case, we'd better prepare for a tidal shift in advertising in 2012.
Under this same pretense, ads should show Kellogg's Frosted Flakes -- used as part of a complete breakfast -- as the secret to passing standardized testing without studying. So long as the voiceover denies what is being shown, advertisers could show Lipitor giving people the heart of a lion, Ambien makes someone sleep like a hibernating bear, or Cialis grows your cock into that of a stallion. If you pop the top of a Bud Light, a super model will immediately come and jump your bones. Literally.
Will consumers have any idea what these products actually do? No, but we will be entertained. And Nissan obviously thinks that is more important than making cars that we would want to buy.
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