THE CONSUMER watchdog has vowed to crack down on misleading advertising and endorsements in advertorials, infomercials, lifestyle and current affairs programs.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel said the ACCC would target advertising agencies and media outlets to provide it with crucial information to inform consumers’ buying decisions.
“In the ACCC’s view, everyone involved in the preparation and broadcasting or publication of misleading or deceptive advertising is in potential breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974,” Samuel said.
Citing extravagant claims for weight loss, exercise and cures, Samuel said the ACCC would “be particularly concerned to address conduct that targets and seeks to exploit disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers”. These are the areas, he explained, where the media would find it difficult to argue it had no reason to suspect the advertising was misleading.
The ACCC will also be spotlighting areas where representations appeared to be clearly contrary to generally known facts. It might also be reasonably apparent on the face of the advertisement that a claim was false and misleading.
As well, the watchdog would be examining areas where the media outlet may have had prior experience which indicated an advertisement may give rise to compliance problems.
Samuel concluded that these moves were essential as it provided the community with crucial information to inform buying decisions. “[The community] has every right to expect that the industry take all reasonable efforts to maintain a high level of compliance with the Act,” he said.