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Ad watchdog slaps cellphone, popcorn vid maker on the wrist

November 17, 2008 |  7:02 pm
Popcorn
False advertising! (From a YouTube video by mrvmtz that appears to debunk the claim.)

Remember those videos from a while back that showed groups of friends pointing ringing cellphones at popcorn kernels, which then popped, implying phones emit enough radiation to heat kernels to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature at which popcorn pops)? And then remember how those videos turned out to be a viral marketing hoax? That was fun, wasn't it?

Well, the fun is over.  Today, a short five months after the videos were revealed as a phony, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus released a statement (PDF) that whips a ruler across the knuckles of Cardo Systems, the company that released the videos.

"In non-traditional media, to the extent that advertising claims are communicated, advertisers are required to substantiate those claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence," said the statement.  Which means you can't just totally make stuff up to scare people into buying your products.

The original videos are no longer publicly accessible, suggesting that Cardo may have been sufficiently chastened.

And they say industry self-policing doesn't work! 

Still, these NAD guys may be tough, but I'd take them any day over the riotous crowd of mommy bloggers that set angry fire to this Motrin ad.  The ad dared to poke fun at the idea of wearing your baby in a sling, and then compounded its sin by suggesting that baby-wearing may lead to back pain.  Motrin, seriously, next time you want to claim that funny-looking things look funny, or that carrying a heavy weight on your back for hours could hurt it -- make sure you substantiate.

— David Sarno

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