Imagine that Megan Thee Stallion told you that by investing as little as $1 in Bitcoin, with her knowledge and your hustle, "you'll have your own empire in no time." Would you think that $1 is all you need to amass a fortune? No, I wouldn't either. What if Megan was stacking shiny bars of gold while she told you that? I still wouldn't be convinced, but if you're on the fence, NAD is looking out for you in a recent decision involving an ad for Cash App.
NAD initiated its own inquiry into the ad, worried that viewers who may not be familiar with the "risks associated with investing or the volatility associated with Bitcoin" might be misled into thinking that it's easy to build an empire of their very own. The advertiser argued that the "empire" claim was puffery, and that no reasonable consumer would think that they could amass a personal fortune by investing $1 in Bitcoin through Cash App. NAD wasn't convinced.
Although the express claim that "you'll have your own empire in no time" standing alone might be puffery, NAD was concerned that "it is accompanied by images of bouncing coins beside accumulating gold bars." Even if reasonable consumers understand that the claim "exaggerates the expected results from investing in Bitcoin on the Cash App," NAD was worried that the ad may still convey "a message that consumers can achieve significant wealth with small investments."
The advertiser noted that a disclosure warns that "investing has risks" and "you may lose money" and that Megan tells viewers that the price of Bitcoin "can go up and down by the hour." NAD wasn't swayed. The on-screen disclosure appeared in "a long mice-type super" that consumers were likely to miss. Although the audio disclosure was "spoken slowly and clearly," NAD didn't think it was enough to counter the "net impression" of the ad "that Bitcoin investing generates significant wealth with minimum investment."
In this decision, NAD seems to take a narrow view of what constitutes puffery and a broad view of how viewers will interpret the ad. It's hard to say whether NAD is likely to take this approach on all ads or whether NAD thought that the audience for this ad was particularly vulnerable and likely to be misled. Either way, this case demonstrates that there can be a very thin line between puffery and a claim (and a very wide line between $1 and a stack of gold bars).
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