Advertising / Business


The Tangled Web They Weave
Truth, Falsity, & Advertisers
Ivan L. Preston

"A powerful analysis of what's wrong with advertising."—Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America

Written for the ordinary consumer as well as for advertisers and trade regulators, this book aims to demonstrate how advertising can better serve its audience. Ivan Preston takes us down the slippery slope, from the high ground of honest product information to the unscrupulous bottom-of-the-barrel claims that are wholly false. Along the way he documents the subtle misrepresentations, half and lesser truths, and exploitations of our gullibility that abound in contemporary advertising.

From reviews of the first edition

"In this fascinating examination of contemporary 'ad-speak,' Preston reveals the logical tricks behind familiar ads and reviews their legal status. He then goes on to argue for a 'revolutionary' new standard for advertising, saying that ads should be constructed in such a way that consumers can rely on their content."—Robert Herrmann, former President, American Council on Consumer Interest

"[Preston] meticulously dismantles advertisers' arsenal of dirty tricks: implied but spurious claims, 'minimal facts' promoted as significant, puffery, infomercials disguised as news programs, and empty 'nonfacts' vaunting a brand's superiority over all others.... A potent handbook for consumers awash in misinformation."—Publishers Weekly

"Preston discusses the tools of the advertising trade and what the law will and will not allow, citing several memorable cases, involving Sears, Volvo, and Heileman Brewing and its PowerMaster malt liquor, among others.... So what's a little, or maybe more than a little, deception, or image-building, in love and competition? Everybody, or almost everybody, does it. And consumers don't really believe all they see and hear, anyway. Preston begs to differ, and he does so strongly and effectively."—Chuck Hutchcraft, Chicago Tribune

Ivan L. Preston is the Journal Communications–Heyse Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has been honored three times by the American Academy of Advertising, including serving as its president. An expert witness and author of numerous articles on advertising law, he is the author of The Great American Blow-Up: Puffery in Advertising and Selling, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

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The book cover is black with red and white lettering.

July 1994

240 pp. 6 x 9
ISBN-10: 0-299-14190-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-14190-5  
Cloth $24.95 s
ISBN-10: 0-299-14194-2  
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-14194-3
Paper $15.95 x

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