ADVERTISING: The Elusive Truth

To advertisers, the Federal Trade Commission lately has often seemed like a relentless white tornado, working to make them come clean about their products. But the agency's most ambitious undertaking—a program to make thousands of big advertisers produce documentary evidence backing up their claims for product pricing, safety and performance—has so far proved a disappointing dud. Over the past year, the effort has produced a mountain of data but little more than a molehill of definite proof or definitive disproof of product plugs.

The FTC has so far received written evidence from...

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