Complaint: What responsibility does a mainstream, market-leading newspaper have to police its advertisers and prohibit blatantly misleading and deceptive advertisements? Common sense would seem to dictate an abundance of caution so as not to breach trust with loyal readers. Or, so it would seem. For months now, FLORIDA TODAY has been running an extraordinarily and deliberately deceptive advertisement in its car section entitled ECONOMIC CONDITIONS FORCE MASSIVE AUTOMOTIVE SHORT SALE. The last two words jump out in gigantic letters highlighting a nearly full-page of reversed-out text, sans dealer logo and pictures of cars. At first glance it looks legit. Not so. The ad seeks to trick the reader by 1) passing itself off as an official public announcement, and 2) playing on the legitimate term short sale that has gained popularity in real estate sales where buyers, supposedly, can save money on distressed, pre-foreclosure homes. But neither is true here and the advertiser and newspaper both know that the layout and headline of the ad is a rouse. And it gets much worse. The body of this egregiously deceptive ad, written and placed in FLORIDA TODAY by Boniface-Heirs Chrysler Dodge Jeep, is so purposely misleading as to be malicious. Boniface-Heirs wants Brevard County residents to think that they can separate desperate dealerships needing to liquidate inventory from their merchandise at 70% off of the original MSRP because it has been so ordered by authorities. The ad flagrantly uses the terms foreclosures and, repeatedly, short sale even though these terms are not usual and customary to the automotive industry, only real estate. Why? To deceive the public, pure and simple. Why else would the ad state that Short Sale representatives will be on hand at the dealership to show customers the Short Sale price immediately upon arrival? Translation, as soon you step onto the lot, a car salesman will greet you with a smile and a hand shake to show you the dealerships discounted inventory. Why dont they just say that and lose all the trickery? FLORIDA TODAY should require a rewrite of this ad, or take it down.
Tags: Auto Dealers
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