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Advertisers Mum on Proposed Legal Industry Ad Regulations

May 9, 2017

Green overlay on blurred image of legal advertisers collaboratingThere have been many articles written recently about the rise of class-action lawsuits and the attorneys who employ the help of advertising firms to help them find plaintiffs to join them. We’ve examined possible ethical issues regarding social media recruitment, which is why a short story from Ad Age caught our eye. Let’s dive in.

A History of Opposition

Typically, advertising firms and organizations rail against proposed new legislation regarding ad rules in an effort to promote free speech and their bottom lines. The firms they represent usually do, too. However, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) sent a letter to the American Bar Association last month proposing new regulations for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) that neither group out-rightly condemned.

A Rising Health Problem

We’ve all seen the commercials on television asking if we’ve been harmed by a certain medication or surgery and if so, to call now. We could be leaving money and justice on the table! These ads have become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, and now social media posts have joined the proverbial party. One unfortunate side effect of this form of advertising is that many patients stop taking their medications once they join a class-actions suit, oftentimes against the advice of their physicians.

The Proposal & Response

Rep. Goodlatte’s recent proposal asks the AAF and ANA to require laws for ads seeking plaintiffs on the basis of medical malpractice to warn them of the dangers of abruptly stopping a medication without first speaking with a medical professional.

In a bit of a surprise, both advertising organizations have yet to voice resistance to the proposed legislation. Though there’s plenty of time for them to weigh in, their silence implies they, too, might see how precarious this form of advertising can be in regard to public health. It’s unclear as of now where, if anywhere, this proposal will go, but it is encouraging that it seems all parties may be united on this very important front.

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