Statement of Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson
In the Matter of Beck's North America, Inc.
Docket No. C-3859
The Commission has now voted to accord final approval to the consent agreement with Beck's North America, Inc. ("Beck's") in Docket Number C-3859 on grounds that Beck's disseminated or caused to be disseminated unfair television advertisements. I joined in that vote. I also believe, however, that the advertisements at issue were deceptive. The Commission has defined deceptive advertising as "that which contains a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer's detriment."(1) In my view, the Beck's television advertisements fit this definition.
First, I believe the advertisements imply to reasonable targeted consumers that consuming alcohol while boating is appropriate and/or safe. In fact, the actors begin one advertisement by stating "Wanna have some fun? Mix hot music, cool people, [a] big boat and a great German beer." Unfortunately, the advertisement does not disclose that consuming alcohol while boating poses a heightened danger not only to the boat operator, but also to passengers. It also fails to disclose that such behavior may violate applicable Federal boating laws.(2) Second, as evidenced by the actors and the language portrayed in the advertisement, I believe that the message is targeted at a youthful audience. Accordingly, it can be justifiably inferred that a reasonable youthful consumer could easily be deceived by not appreciating the danger of imitating the behavior featured in the television advertisements.
For these reasons, I would find that the Beck's advertisements were deceptive as well as unfair under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
1. See Cliffdale Associates, Inc., 103 F.T.C. 110, 176 (1984) Appeal dismissed sub nom., Kovan v. FTC, No. 84-5337 (11th Cir. Oct. 10, 1984) (Deception Statement).
2. This problem has become so serious that the U. S. Coast Guard has recently launched a new campaign to better inform the public of the dangers of mixing boating and alcohol.