Turn on the news on Friday, or check it out online, and you will hear that the Royals' relative Pippa Middleton is being accused of falsely advertising her backside when she walked behind her sister the Duchess of Cambridge during the British wedding of Prince William. During a Women in Advertising and Communications dinner this year, Middleton more or less admitted to her dress fitting "a little too well," according to a May 2, 2014 report from Newsmax, but an etiquette expert from France says it is much more than that, claiming the sister of Catherine Middleton actually wore a false bottom and didn't tell the public when they became obsessed about it.
It was an optical illusion; she knew there were a billion people watching. It was the moment to show it," Stephane Bern, a Knight of the Order of Grimaldo in Monaco said.
Famous women and celebrities might be excused for falsely advertising their..um "wares," if you will, with many women wearing padded undergarments for years, especially at such high-profile events as a wedding to be viewed by millions. But false and misleading advertising from large companies often sparks outrage and anger, sometimes showing up with derogatory terms to describe well-known brands. Take for example this USA Today article about "The Unfriendly Skies" report, which details five years worth of consumer complaints about the airline industry.
Misleading consumers can be costly according to the Business Insider, who reported in 2011 that 14 False Advertising Scandals back then resulted in millions in losses to the brands outed, which included Activia Yogurt, Taco Bell, Definity eye cream, Hyundai and Kia vehicles, Groupon's tourism ads, and cereals Rice Krispies, Frosted Mini-Wheats and Kashi.
In addition, an Airborne product cited at that time claimed it protected against the common cold, the Extenze company claimed in its ad that it could help males beyond their current physical size limit in a way it could not do, and Splenda sweetener made exaggerated claims it was "made from sugar" when it was just a highly processed chemical compound created in a factory environment. Then there was issues cited with Pennzoil, New Balance tennis shoes, Eclipse Gum, and Classmates.com, too.
Yet companies continue to stretch the limits when it comes to running ads in print publications, online ads and even in-store sales booklets that they believe consumers will overlook. For example, the Atlanta Top News Examiner uncovered two such discrepancies with the help of readers just this week. The first, JCPenney, was highlighted because a current Love Mom Sale booklet made available in their Georgia stores this week includes two coupons which are not usable when consumers try to apply them to purchases they make, even thought the booklet's cover touts there are "two great coupons inside!".
The second Georgia incident pertains to a restaurant in the state: Gabriels in Marietta. In an email ad sent to their faithful customers, the company promotes .99 kids meals. The email ad does not say anything about the need for customers to purchase an adult meal for every .99 kids meal requested, according to Melissa M., the customer who contacted this Examiner. And she sent along a copy of the email as proof. Melissa said she only learned about the discrepancy after ordering her meal.
When I pointed out the discrepancy, they claimed there was a piece of paper attached to their menu board that said u had 2 purchase adult meals 4 each .99 kids meal (sic)," Melissa M. wrote.
But she feels that a sign, even if there was one on the store menu, is irrelevant considering the email that was sent out does not state that exception. And many people who are familiar with a company's menu don't look at it if they already know what they are going to order, especially after getting such an email. In addition, the special email could be what lures people into a store or restaurant at that particular time, rather than a competitors, based upon that particular ad's promise.
In Melissa's case, however, she had been a faithful customer until this happened, telling the Examiner:
We had been loyal customers there, and had driven all the way to Marietta from Smyrna and they acted like we were freeloaders. Very embarrassing!"
Coincidentally, in the "our story" section of Gabriel's website, the owner Johnnie Gabriel states that she is the cousin to Paula Deen, another Southern chef who came under fire for alleged unscrupulous behavior in the recent past, although not for a misleading advertisement.
Pippa Middleton may or may not have worn padding when she donned her Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress at the wedding of the century, but how she handles the fallout about it now will determine her future fan base. And the same is true with JCPenney, Gabriels in Marietta, and the rest of the celebrities and companies who may purposefully or unintentionally mislead the public and their consumers in word or deed.
If you have a story about misleading advertisements or store polices, you can reach the Atlanta Top News Examiner with them at TheRealRadellSmith@hotmail.com. But be prepared to show proof of your claims when you do.