Should Automotive Commercials Be Required To Give Their Own 'Fair-Balance'?
This law requires that product claim ads give a "fair balance" of information regarding the benefits and risks of using a particular drug. This means that the content and presentation of a drug's most important risks must be reasonably similar to the content and presentation of its benefits.
The risks included in these fair-balance warnings are not necessarily relevant for the majority of users, however; in fact, only 3% of users experience most drug-related side effects.
So how come the drug companies must still include them, when it's such a small percentage, and other companies, such as automotive manufactures, get let off the hook? Exhaust from cars is a negative effect that the vast majority of drivers have on the environment, yet it's not mentioned at all in automotive commercials! If you think about it, everyone who drives an exhaust-emitting vehicle harms the environment. So, shouldn't car commercials start including a fair-balance warning?
Furthermore, driving a car is actually the most-air polluting act an average citizen commits. Emissions from passenger vehicles continue to increase in the U.S. because vehicle use also continues to increase, and vehicles keep getting bigger. Pick-up trucks, vans and sports utility vehicles often replace smaller, lighter passenger cars.
When we think about TV vehicle ads, we picture a few different categories:
Wilderness and Escape
We are often presented with a picture of solitary, impeccable machines in wild locations. These ads sell a fantasy of fresh air and escape. But in reality, the vehicles are mostly found in suburban driveways and in traffic jams in polluted cities.
Vehicle ads have also started to include aspects of crash protection, interior comforts and overall safety as the main selling points.
There's also the Family-Friendly car commercial category, where not just parents but all family members can find their fun with a car.
And sometimes we even get all in one!
While outdoor-readiness, safety, sexiness and family-friendly aspects of vehicles are all important and welcome, we still do not get a glimpse into the harmful effects driving has on the environment.
The auto industry is not the only one to leave out negative effects -- of course, no company or brand wants to advertise their bad side. But when a product shows direct, negative effects on the environment and on people's health and well-being, how do we let it slip by?