Name: Emma Kazaryan Lesson: Consumer Law – Deceptive Advertising goals



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Name: Emma Kazaryan
Lesson:
Consumer Law – Deceptive Advertising

GOALS



  • Students will be able to identify deceptive advertising

  • Students will know what consumer protection laws are in place to protect them from deceptive advertising/sales practices

  • Students will know what recourse is available to them

OBJECTIVES

    1. Knowledge Objectives: As a result of this class, students will be better able to:

      1. Understand federal and state consumer protection laws

      2. Understand how to get help if they are targeted by unfair advertising/sales practices

    2. Skills Objectives: As a result of this class, students will be better able to:

      1. Read and interpret statutes

      2. Be able to write an articulate consumer complaint

    3. Attitude Objectives: As a result of this lesson, students will feel:

      1. Confident in making purchases

      2. Comfortable seeking recourse if they are victims of unfair advertising/sales practices

CLASSROOM METHODS

  1. Introduction to Consumer Protection Law - Deceptive Advertising

  1. Go through Powerpoint covering the following material

          1. Overview of consumer law what it is, what it covers

          2. Laws that address deceptive advertising

          3. Overview of what does/doesn’t constitutes deceptive advertising




  1. Exercise: News Report Discussion

  1. Watch the news report on the case that the Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, brought against T-Mobile. http://www.king5.com/news/get-jesse/WA-attorney-general-T-Mobile-contract-free-204765901.html

  2. Pull up the Washington State statute; give students a few minutes to look at it; read through the statute together. Ask the students to summarize in ‘plain language’ what the statute means.

  3. Move on to the next slide which shows the statute ‘simplified’ without the extraneous language; ask students why they think the statute includes all the extra language when its saying something that seems to be pretty simple.

  4. Play the T-Mobile commercial at issue in this case http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuJPXdj7cDI

  5. Go through each of the elements of the statute and ask students to identify whether each element is present in the T-Mobile case.

  1. Did T-Mobile publish or display an advertisement?

  2. Was the advertisement false, deceptive or misleading?

  3. Did T-Mobile know that the advertisement was deceptive?

  4. Did T-Mobile intend to induce people to buy something?

  1. Transition into a discussion about what the outcome was in this case since T-Mobile violated the statute.

  1. Who brought this case?

  2. Why did the Attorney General bring this case?

  3. What was the outcome? What happened to T-Mobile?

  4. What can you do if you see a false or deceptive advertisement?




  1. Exercise: Drafting a Complaint

  1. Explain to students that if they see a false or deceptive advertisement, they can file a complaint with the Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau

  2. Break students up into three groups: group A, B and C

  3. Give each group copies of the sample scenarios (either A, B or C); the students in each group should all have the same scenario

  4. While the students read through the sample scenarios, put up the slide in the Powerpoint that lists the information that a complaint must include

  5. After students have had some time to read the scenarios on their own, have them discuss the questions that go with their scenario.

  6. After the students have discussed the questions for about 5-10 minutes, have the students work with their groups to draft a complaint.

  7. After all of the teams have drafted their complaint, have class reconvene and have each team share their complaint; ask the class whether they understand other teams’ complaints and feel like they have received enough information to make a preliminary judgment about whether the ad was deceptive



EVALUATION

  1. Student participation in the discussion

  2. Student participation in drafting a consumer complaint


Scenario A
Love Spell is a company that manufactures and sells high-end perfume and cologne. The company runs print advertisements in magazines and newspapers. The perfume and cologne don’t smell very good because they are manufactured using foul materials such as old gym socks and cow manure. People still buy Love Spell though because the advertisements claim that if you gift the perfume to the person you love, they will fall in love the very first time they use the perfume or cologne, guaranteed!

Andrew Anderson sees an ad for Love Spell in GQ magazine and is excited. He has been in love with Anita Arden since he first laid eyes on her. Andrew has been asking Anita out forever but she won’t go out with him and wants to be ‘just friends’ even though she doesn’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Andrew saves up his money and when he finally has enough, he heads to Nordstrom to buy the perfume. The smell is horrible, but he is determined to make Anita fall in love with him, so he buys it anyways.

The next day, at Anita’s birthday party, Andrew presents Anita with her gift. She tears the packaging open and is so excited she immediately sprays the perfume all over herself.

To Andrew’s horror, Anita spends the rest of her party hanging out with Alex Ambrose. The next day, Anita calls Andrew to tell him that she and Alex are in love and plan to get married next month.

Horrified, Andrew calls the Love Spell company to demand an explanation for why Anita didn’t fall in love with him after using the perfume. The telephone operator tells him, “Sorry, but the ad only guarantees that the person you give it to will fall in love-it doesn’t say with whom they will fall in love.”

Andrew feels that the advertisement was misleading and deceptive.

Questions to Consider/Discuss:
-What were the express claims made in the advertisement?
-What were the implied claims?
-Did Love Spell deliver on their claims?
-Where the claims material? Would Andrew have bought the perfume even if the claims hadn’t been made?

Scenario B
Seebok is a company that manufactures and sells special shoes called Slim-Ups that are supposedly made with some special technology that supposedly helps people lose weight. Seebok’s entire marketing campaign for the Slim-Ups is based on the fact that you can lose weight while wearing them. Seebok runs a variety of advertisements on TV that feature people saying that they lost weight by wearing Seebok instead of regular shoes when they go to the gym or exercise. Many of the people in the advertisements boast amazing body transformations and claim to have lost a bunch of weight and really toned their bodies using Slim-Ups. Slim-Ups commercials had lots of big-name celebrity endorsements such as Kim Kardashian and Chris Hemsworth (perhaps better known as Thor).

Brad Barnes was watching television one day when he saw a new commercial for Slim-Ups that claimed that “in a clinical study, researchers found that people burned 700 times as many calories when they exercised using Slim-Ups as opposed to regular shoes (!!!!!)” Brad had seen Slim-Ups commercials in the past that featured celebrities and stories of extreme weight loss, but he had always been really skeptical. However this new commercial really got him excited about trying the product because the results in the clinical trial were really impressive.

After buying and using Slim-Ups for a year, Brad was devastated that his body wasn’t become toned any quicker than usual. He was angry and decided to research those clinical trials that Seebok referenced in their commercial. The unfortunate truth of the matter was that Seebok had NOT conducted any clinical trials. In fact, there was no empirical evidence that supported the claim that people burned 700 times as many calories when they used Slim-Ups.

Brad is livid and feels that the advertisement was misleading and deceptive.



Questions to Consider/Discuss:
-Was Brad reasonable? Would a reasonable person have viewed this ad the same way Brad did?
-What was the claim in this case?
-What kind of evidence did Seebok say they had to support their claim?
-Was there sufficient evidence to back up this claim?
Scenario C
Smokease is a product that is marketed as an alternative to regular cigarette smoking. The Smokease product contains nicotine, tobacco and pretty much everything else found in regular cigarettes. The company claims that they have invented special new technology that prevents users from getting lung cancer. The company also claims that the smoke created by Smokease is less harmful for the environment than other cigarettes.

Smokease has launched an extensive ad campaign that includes radio, print and television advertisements that all focus on the ‘benefits’ of Smokease as compared to other products. The television commercials feature users of Smokease talking about how they have used Smokease for a number of years and have not had any signs of cancer and are in perfect health. The commercials also urge users to “try Smokease-if not for your health, for the environment!” and explain how the smoke from Smokease has no negative effects on the environment, as opposed to regular cigarettes.

Carol Campbell has always been hesitant to try smoking cigarettes. Carol was terrified about the potential health effects of cigarettes, especially getting cancer. However, she had been really stressed out by work lately and she was really looking for a way to unwind. Carol was listening to the radio one day when she heard an advertisement for Smokease. She was really excited to hear that, unlike regular cigarettes, Smokease prevented users from getting cancer. She was also surprised and happy to hear that Smokease was less harmful for the environment than regular cigarettes. Carol drove straight to her local store and purchased a pack of Smokease.

Carol smoked Smokease for a number of years until, to her horror, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. “I don’t understand,” Carol told her doctor, “I used Smokease! They’re different than regular cigarettes! They don’t cause cancer…” she told her doctor all about the advertisements she had heard and her doctor promised to look into it.



At their next appointment, Carol’s doctor informed her that he had looked into the claims made by Smokease and there appeared to be absolutely no evidence to back up their claims. Carol thinks the ads were deceptive and she wants to file a complaint.

Questions to Consider/Discuss:
-Where the claims made by Smokease particularly troubling?
-Is it important that Smokease made health claims?
-Were the environmental claims something that an average consumer would have trouble evaluating for themselves?
TEACHER’S KEY - Scenario Discussion Points


Scenario A
-What were the express claims made in the advertisement?
The express claim was that the person that you gift the perfume/cologne to would fall in love.

-What were the implied claims?
The implied claim was that the person you gift it to would fall in love with YOU.

-Did Love Spell deliver on their claims?
While they delivered on their express claim, Love Spell did not deliver on their implied claim.

-Where the claims material? Would Andrew have bought the perfume even if the claims hadn’t been made?
Yes, the claims were material. The facts tell us that the perfume smelled bad so its unlikely that


Scenario B
-Was Brad reasonable? Would a reasonable person have viewed this ad the same way Brad did?
Yes, Brad was pretty reasonable and a reasonable person probably would have viewed this ad the same way that Brad did.

-What was the claim in this case?
The claim was that Slim-Ups would help him burn 700x as many calories as he would burn wearing regular shoes.

-What kind of evidence did Seebok say they had to support their claim?
Seebok said that they had clinical trials that supported their claim.

-Was there sufficient evidence to back up this claim?
No! They didn’t even have the minimum evidence that they SAID they had.

Scenario C
-Where the claims made by Smokease particularly troubling?
The FTC is particularly skeptical of health/safety claims (preventing lung cancer claim) and claims that the average consumer would have evaluating for themselves (environmental claim)


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