Category Archives: Ad Watchers

Where is the Line Between Ethical Design and Dark Patterns?



Think about the times you felt tricked or frustrated by a membership or subscription that had a seamless signup process but was later difficult to cancel. Something that should be simple and transparent can be complicated, intentionally or unintentionally, in ways that impair consumer choice. These are examples of dark patterns. Unfortunately, dark patterns are becoming increasingly common as companies look for ways to boost profits. While some may seem harmless, others can have serious consequences for users. 

Where is the line between ethical, persuasive design and dark patterns? In this episode of Ad Watchers, hosts Eric and Annie are joined by guest Deputy Director of the National Advertising Division, Katherine Armstrong to answer that question. Together, these three explore dark patterns and the FTC’s recent report on the topic, provide some real examples from NAD cases, and deliver commentary on the FTC’s response to the proliferation of these dark patterns. Listen now to understand the most common dark pattern tactics and how you can avoid them while still producing compelling, persuasive advertising.   

For more information about this episode, read the show notes here.  


How is Direct Selling Advertising Different?



For years, the direct selling industry carried a stigma of frauds and pyramid schemes, but in 2019, the Direct Selling Association decided to take control of its reputation. They enlisted the help of BBB National Programs to develop a self-regulatory program. From this partnership came the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC).

In this episode of Ad Watchers, hosts Eric and Annie are joined by the Vice President of the DSSRC, Peter Marinello. Peter shares with listeners how the DSSRC has worked to support the direct selling industry. Listen now to understand self-regulation’s impact on the market and what to expect during a direct selling self-regulatory case.

For more information about this episode, read the show notes here


Revisiting the Best Podcast Episode Ever: What is Puffery?



When you hear a claim in an advertisement like, “best in the world,” you probably know that the product has not been measurably proven to actually be the best in the world. And that’s okay, because this is an example of puffery, an exaggerated, blustering, or boastful statement or general claim that could only be understood to be an expression of opinion, not a statement of fact. But where is the line between puffery and a claim that needs a reasonable basis?

In this episode of Ad Watchers, hosts Eric Unis and Annie Ugurlayan revisit a fan favorite episode from season one. Listen to hear Hal Hodes and La Toya Sutton break down the questions they ask to determine whether or not a statement is puffery. Later in the episode, they are joined by none other than current host Eric to judge the Battle Royale of Puffery: each host presents cases that illustrate various types of this practice. Tune in to hear which of our hosts has the best examples of puffery in the universe!

For more information about this episode, read the show notes here


How Should You Present Scientific Evidence to Support Your Ad Claims?



Understanding how to present scientific evidence in a substantiation case can be difficult, especially when the data is complex or no industry standard exists.

In this episode of Ad Watchers, the hosts discuss a complex topic: how should marketers put scientific data to use? They answer this question by diving into different types of scientific evidence and which types of claims they support most effectively. For instance, they provide insight into when to bring forward an expert witness and the supplementary evidence needed to support their opinion. Statistician Tom Rosholt also joins them to share an analyst’s approach to presenting unbiased and reliable data. Listen now to learn what to expect when presenting a case at NAD.

For more information about this episode, read the show notes here.


What Should You Consider Before Making Cosmetics Claims?



The cosmetics industry is booming and it is easy to see why: most people want to look younger, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and feel like they are taking care of their skin. But just like claims for dietary supplements, beauty product claims must be truthful, not misleading, and require substantiation. In this episode of the Ad Watchers, hosts break down the most common pitfalls they see in cosmetics advertising and how to avoid them.

For more information about this episode, read the show notes here.