The Talismanic Use of Incomprehensible Writings: An Empirical and Legal Study of Words Displayed in TV Advertisements
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 285, 1988-1989
Many television advertisements include textual disclaimers that are displayed very quickly. This Article presents empirical research showing that these words often fail to communicate their meanings to viewers. It suggests that when 1) a commercial's message would be deceptive without additional information and 2) a disclaimer with that information is shown too quickly to be comprehended, the advertisement should be treated as deceptive by the Federal Trade Commission and by courts in the context of private false advertising lawsuits. Also, the Article suggests that continued use of video "fine print" may propagate the mistaken idea that incomprehensible words have legal significance in consumer transactions. Reinforcing that idea may deter consumers from asserting rights and may reinforce people's notions that the law treats symbolic compliance with legal requirements as equivalent to actual compliance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 46Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 13, 2007
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