What’s Trending in Misleading Ads in 2014?

We’re on it!

| Bonnie Patten

Our prediction for 2014 is that there will be deceptive ads aplenty. So what’s ahead in the false or misleading marketing arena? Here’s what we know will be making news this year:

Now trending in misleading ads

With the popularity of native advertising  on the rise, hopes that the Established in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson, the FTC is the United States government’s primary regulatory authority in the area of consumer protection and anti-competitive business practices in the marketplace. Its Bureau of Consumer Protection assumes the lead in the Commission’s efforts to eliminate deceptive advertising and fraudulent business practices at work in the economy. will bring an enforcement action (or ten) against publishers disguising their ads as independent content. No doubt will be alerting the FTC to a number of these bad apples. In addition, spam filters will continue to be necessary as ever more technology-sophisticated scammers search for ways to steal our money.  And with still no government agency overseeing the supplement industry, it is certain that supplement marketers will continue hawking cure-all, organic, 100% guaranteed, rip-off products that purport to cure cancer or melt pounds away.

Learning their lessons

It is our hope that some markets will see a decrease in false advertising. For example, after the abundance of “all-natural” and “organic” class-action lawsuits filed against food and beverage companies, it appears that some in the industry have learned their lesson and are refraining from using the terms. Similarly, mascara manufacturers have been scolded on both sides of the Atlantic for secretly using eyelash inserts and should know by now that they cannot enhance the lashes in their ads without disclosing it to consumers. And finally, we’re crossing our fingers that between the ongoing efforts of the FTC, state attorneys general, and continuing investigative journalism we will see a decrease in payday loan marketing deception (but this may be too much to wish for in 2014).

We are on it!

This year will bring more of our own investigative journalism and legal complaints to regulators as we continue to put pressure on companies to stop their deception and on regulators to take action. Check back with us for’s investigation and upcoming action against a financial service company and a health-related apparel manufacturer. We are also pursuing an investigation of a supplement company, and will continue our coverage on the perils of multi-level marketing tactics.

In addition, will launch its first major marketing campaign. Watch for our online video (warning: the jingle will get stuck in your head), and our print ads (yes, we’ll have ads about false ads). And we will continue to pursue the tips you send us. You are our eyes and ears on the ground regarding false ads. We look forward to working with you in 2014.

Bonnie Patten

Bonnie, executive director of, is an attorney and mother of three. Her commitment to educating the public about deceptive marketing stems from her belief that education is the only…

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