Comparative Advertising…I'm OK…You're Not OK.

Jack Roberts

Unlike some other "hot buttons" on our communications keyboard, the Comparative Advertising issue has been a key portion of the Standards of Practice (of the A.A.A.A. Creative Code) since 1924. It was endorsed by the ANA, the NAB, the AIA, the MFA, the NBP and the rest of the alphabet in 1962. It reads: "we will not knowingly produce advertising which contains – (d) Comparisons which unfairly disparage a competitive product or service."

Evidently, some advertisers were unknowingly doing just that... and, four years later, the A.A.A.A. found it necessary to issue a Policy Statement.

This 1966 Statement "discouraged the use of competitors' brand names, packages, and trademarks–without the express permission of such competitors."

Three years later, the now-well-worn hot button was hit again and the A.A.A.A. Board adopted a Revised Statement whereby that which was "discouraged" in 1966 was now "deplored" in 1969; Le., "We especially deplore advertising which makes use of a competitive company's trademark or brand name in an effort to trade on the reputation which that brand has built."