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First, the radio commercial.

Yes, this is a stupid, badly written commercial. But no worse than the typical stupid, badly written radio commercial.

The problem is the advertisement lies…twice.

Lie #1:  “We’re broadcasting live from the ship.”

No, they’re not.

Sure, it’s possible to create such a lame, artificial sounding spot from a cruise ship. But you and I (and they) know this was done in a landlocked recording studio.

Lie #2:  “Today we’re with top cruiser, Kathryn.”

No, they’re not. They’re with a voice actress. Everything she reports is fictional, although she does her best to make it sound like a real person reporting her real experiences.

The Federal Trade Commission would consider this to be a “testimonial,” and as such it’s in violation of their regulations that prohibit faked testimonials.

“But Dan, what about all the dialog spots that feature people who obviously are characters? Are you saying those violate FTC rules, too?”

No. Those aren’t pretending — or, worse, proclaiming themselves — to feature real customers.

There’s nothing wrong with airing radio commercials with fictitious characters and situations. Unless you tell people it’s real, when it’s not.

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  • Jon Schweizer March 18, 2013, 10:25 am

    This sort of thing came up a lot at one of my stations. I tended to be alone in objecting to them. Water under the bridge now, but I appreciate knowing that I was right all along. 😉

  • Austin Michael March 18, 2013, 12:27 pm

    Where do event spots, like Home and Garden Shows, fall when they pre produce a guy saying he’s there and how awesome it is, but he’s doing it alone and not pretending to pull random people to “testify”? Does the rule lie, no pun intended, in the fake consumers?


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