Fight against misleading advertising |



Ultimately, advertising is important to educate consumers about any product and to serve the business purpose of companies. Standard advertising serves both entrepreneurs and consumers.

But over the years an advertising trend has developed that misleads consumers. In most cases, the advertisements go against the code of ethics in business.

Nowadays, it is obvious that entrepreneurs and companies do not care about their false advertising, that it has serious repercussions on consumers, their only concern is rather to increase their immediate sales volume of products by donating false and colorful information about their products.

In particular, people in developing countries are the first victims of misleading advertising. National and multinational companies are found desperate to achieve their business objective in a fair or crude way. They see enormous potential to deceive consumers in developing and underdeveloped countries. In Bangladesh, misleading advertisements for products, from basic necessities to household appliances, are widespread and affect consumers disastrously.

It is obvious that the advertising culture for promoting products in the market is not a new phenomenon, rather the history of advertising dates back to ancient civilizations. First of all, oral advertising has been recorded in history. Products were advertised by playing the flute and walking the streets to promote the products to consumers.

Undoubtedly, TV advertising is very important to popularize any product to consumers in the shortest possible time. Nowadays, apart from the television platform, goods manufacturing companies have seen online platforms as fertile ground for the promotion of their products.

The results of a study reveal that consumers are strongly influenced to purchase their necessary products by watching advertisements on television. The more products are advertised, the more sales increase. Not only ordinary consumers but also elite class consumers consider the more reliable products which are advertised on TV and many other online and offline platforms.

True, there are multinational and national companies, the names of which are known even to an ordinary consumer who relies on their products. But how well they satisfy their consumers with their business ethics is questioned by many these days. More often than not, media sources expose numerous fraudulent activities of reputable consumer goods manufacturing companies. They intentionally color the quality of their products to replace other commercial competitors.

It is really surprising to see that in the advertising most of the companies claim that their products are clinically tested, proven or experienced, but how obvious their claims are when we see that different testing labs and research experiments reveal the truth that many consumer products from branded companies pose health risks.

Really, it is nothing more than to deceive consumers. Obviously, they have the right to run their business as being certified by the government, but do they have the right to play with consumers with false and exaggerated information about their products in the name of advertising. They actually play with the feelings of consumers in most cases.

These days people are more health conscious and like to eat healthy, low fat foods. Consumer goods manufacturing companies describe the quality of their products by emphasizing certain words like low fat, diet, sugar free and good for you etc. Advertisements lure consumers into thinking that they have selected the healthy products but in reality they cannot be in most cases.

Again, it seems more frustrating when we see the label on the bottle of cooking oil claiming the healing powers produced by some reputable companies. They also claim that the cooking oil they market prolongs consumers’ youthfulness, strengthens their hair, and improves skin health while advertising.

We see that many national and multinational companies are advertising their baby food by providing false information. In advertising, it is commonly believed that by taking their products, children will be taller, more lively and stronger than those who will not be taken. It is truly astonishing that these false allegations are not stopped.

But in many developed countries, multinational companies do not have the ability to provide false information about the products they market. Even in these countries, advertising of baby food is completely banned.

False claims are also common in the advertising of beauty products. Many companies give the guarantee that their products will soften and brighten the skin. In addition, users will have healthier skin because their products are full of vitamins and antioxidants.

Certainly they see huge success on misleading consumers. Many products are said to have anti-aging products, and users will look 10 years younger than their original age. Such types of fraudulent claims induce consumers to use these beauty products.

Experts believe that beauty products cannot make users fairer; if that could be, there would be no more blacks in Africa and Asia. Again, beauty products do little to rejuvenate female users, as aging is very natural. In the case of shampoos and hair conditioners, it is claimed that hair loss should be stopped within 14 days. Think about how they trick us with tantalizing information.

In cities, department stores adopt different sales strategies to achieve their targeted sales in the framing time. They advertise discount offers by SMS on different items of products. Mostly on public holidays, they advertise discount offers on some selected products, but to purchase these products, buyers have to meet certain conditions which customers are not told in the SMS advertising.

Recently my eyes landed on an online ad. The advertisement claims that a single pizza price is one taka only. But when I went through the ad in detail, I found out that the first pizza was to be purchased with 700 TK cents, so the second pizza would be Taka 1.

You may have fun seeing such advertisements and thinking that such offers are really cheap, but things are not like that, instead they have doubled the price of a pizza and defrauded consumers with bogus inducements. In advertising, advertising companies usually claim that they are offering discounts, but the reality is that they are offering discount offers on increasing product prices and deceiving consumers.

Again, we see that national and multinational companies are using beautiful girls and women to advertise their products. In advertising, girls mistakenly show that they are also products. Sexy gestures are displayed to attract consumers to the products they advertise. The sexy image of a model wearing a top, t-shirt and cropped pants is revealed on screen to promote their products. It is undoubtedly an unethical practice in advertising because sex is not related to products or services.

In the age of digitization, offensive, fraudulent, confusing and deceptive advertisements are becoming more prevalent. In recent times, some fraudulent e-commerce organizations such as Evaly and E-orange have lured consumers to their products by stating enticing but false information and misled consumers.

However, the Consumer Rights Protection Act 2009 and the Bangladesh Competition Commission Act 2012 are removed to safeguard consumer rights and prevent anti-consumer activities. There is no doubt that false advertising must be dealt with in light of existing laws and acts. On top of that, to tackle this burning problem, there is no alternative to setting up strong legislative bodies that will work against misleading advertising. To this end, it is very urgent to stop the disastrous false advertising for consumers.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a researcher at the IBS. E-mail: [email protected]


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