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What Does The Truth in Advertising (truthinadvertising.org) Do?
American consumers waste billions of dollars annually as a result of deceptive marketing practices ranging from blatant lies to misleading claims intended to confuse. The existence of these fraudulent marketing campaigns is obviously bad for consumers, but they also hurt legitimate companies selling a valuable product or service by directing business away from them.
TruthInAdvertising.org, often abbreviated to TINA.org, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Madison, CT striving to be the go-to online resource for consumers interested in protecting themselves from false advertising claims. The TruthInAdvertising.org mission is to use investigative journalism, education, advocacy, and the active promotion of truth in advertising to limit the impacts of deceptive advertising campaigns on the U.S. economy.
Doesn’t The Government Do That?
This goal runs parallel to several governmental agencies (FDA, FCC, FTC, etc.) and other nonprofits, but TINA.org differs from them in several key ways. First, government agencies tend to spend their time drafting guidelines and rules, not enforcing them unless they get a serious number of complaints. If they do try to enforce something, it is often too little, too late for the consumer as they’ve received numerous complaints already and likely had many victims by that time. The Truth in Advertising commends these agencies for the vital guidelines they provide while working to fill in the enforcement gap that remains.
Other regulatory bodies often have a narrow focus, forcing consumers to visit multiple sites to protect themselves from deceptive advertising in all of its forms. TINA.org handles complaints in nearly all industries, ranging from cosmetics and nutritional supplements to shady car commercials and fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes. This provides consumers with a convenient one-stop shop for all of the information they need regarding deceptive advertising.
That said, TINA.org does not investigate political ads. Other sources, such as Politico.com, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, already do a great job in this arena while some newspapers like the Washington Post used to but have gotten side tracked in recent years, so TINA.org concentrates its resources elsewhere. What qualifies as “deceptive” in a political ad may also depend on the personal views of the audience, a grey area that TINA.org wants to avoid in order to maintain its trustworthy status.
How Does TINA.Org Operate?
TINA.org has three lines of defense against false advertising for consumers to take advantage of. First, they have an Ad Alert program allowing anybody to alert others to a potentially suspicious advertising claim. There is no need to register with the site to recommend a given ad be viewed with skepticism, making it a quick and easy way to alert your fellow consumers about a potential scam.
If you register with the site and have found yourself wronged by an advertising campaign, you may File A Complaint. This allows TINA.org to collect information regarding your claim and file a formal complaint to a pertinent government agency or nonprofit on your behalf. TINA.org may investigate an Ad Alert claim too, but filing a complaint is the best way to help the nonprofit collect the information it needs if you have personally been victimized.
Finally, the site fosters an amazing community of engaged consumers. You can catch up on all of the latest conversations through their email newsletter, Facebook posts, and Twitter feed to learn what ads have earned the ire of consumers.
If a problem ad is removed, the post about it on TINA.org will never be abolished completely. Instead, it will be updated to note that it is no longer a problem while preserving the original post for posterity. This helps ensure that repeat offenders stand out like a sore thumb.
Who Funds TINA.Org?
TINA.org never takes any money from companies that advertise in order to maintain their impartiality. They were initially funded by another nonprofit called the Seedlings Foundation, an organization dedicated to the mental and physical health of children and their families while fostering an engaged, educated citizenship. Today, they raise funds by soliciting donations from engaged consumers so that they can keep doing their important work.
Is TINA.Org Anti-Business or Anti-Advertising?
No! TINA.org appreciates a really good, entertaining ad just as much as everyone else. The organization also acknowledges the importance of ads in modern society, as they serve to introduce new products and services to the marketplace, highlight a given product’s competitive advantages, and enhance brand engagement. TINA.org steps in to eliminate deceptive ads so that the great ones have a chance to shine!
What Kinds Of Companies Has TINA.Org Gone After In The Past?
TINA.org has highlighted a broad variety of deceptive advertising campaigns recently. For example, a dietary supplement called Nutrio2 made the dubious claim that disease is caused by not having enough oxygen in your body. Pathogens such as bacteria and viruses cannot survive if your body has plenty of oxygen to kill them off, and Nutrio2 increases your body’s oxygen levels to prevent you from getting sick.
Of course, the supplement had no science to back up such a claim, and failed to provide any when TINA.org began to press the issue. Ultimately, the ad was listed as an “Ad Alert” on the site, with the note that any product claiming to prevent disease entirely would be a drug subject to FDA testing and approval, not a supplement with light oversight at best.
Likewise, TINA.org calls out companies who claim that their products are “Made In The USA” when they fail to comply with the legal definition of that term. Brands such as Kia, WayFair, RockStar energy drinks, Heinz, and Walmart have all claimed to be American-made when in truth only some of the production process takes place in this country. The investigations were ongoing as of this writing.
Deceptive ads hurt consumers and honest companies alike. If you’re one of the honest companies who has been unfairly attacked then reach out today and we will help you resolve your online reputation issues. The Truth in Advertising is designed to help consumers protect themselves from the predators out there and we’re designed to protect you from the predators who attack you on the internet with fake reviews and online defamation. If you’re interested in learning more about TruthInAdvertising.org mission or in us helping you clean up your image online reach out today for a consultation.