Advertisers Raise Stakes

Here’s an interesting article from Sunday’s New York Times about advertisers stepping up the intensity of their campaigns. In these rough economic circumstances, more advertisers are making head to head comparisons with their competitors. And the competitors are frequently responding by filing complaints with the National Advertising Council or in federal court asserting violations of the federal Lanham Act. And some of those filings are contesting claims that might have traditionally been considered “puffing.” So for example, Fed Ex challenged UPS’s claim that it’s the “most reliable” shipping company. AT&T is going after Verizon over those coverage maps that show vast areas of white (i.e. no coverage) on the AT&T map. Comparison advertising is legal, provided the comparisons are true and you can show that the comparison test was conducted properly. The business decision, of course, is whether to strike back with lawyers, advertising or both!