The newest AT&T Yellow Pages appeared on my doorstep the other day.
At the front of the book, I noticed a full page promoting AT&T’s White Pages: “White Pages advertising complements your Yellow Pages advertising to get you results!”
This headline intrigued me: “High Usage”
“67% of consumers reference the White Pages on an average of 2.8 times per week.”
I searched for and found the source, alongside an asterisk in the smallest font on the page:
“Yellow and White Pages Usage Study, October 1999.”
Hmm. I wonder if White Pages usage has changed during the past 13 years?
Is This Legal?
AT&T’s declaration that “67% of consumers reference the White Pages on an average of 2.8 times per week” is a lie.
Does that mean AT&T is at risk of legal action by the Federal Trade Commission?
I dunno. But I’m guessing no, because the page is not identified as an advertisement. The claims are made by the publisher in what probably would be considered “editorial” content.
Editorial content can be erroneous, false, misleading, dishonest…and it’s none of the FTC’s business.
If my guess is correct, then:
1. AT&T lied to the world.
2. AT&T’s lie is immune to action by the FTC.
3. AT&T should be ashamed of itself. “Don’t worry, we can’t be prosecuted” does not justify lying in your marketing.