Patten acknowledges that Consumer Reports and some other organizations have done good work in alerting consumers to a variety of cases of fraudulent ad claims. "Where we are a little different," adds Patten, "is that this is our exclusive focus."
Patten points to their first legal action, a letter warning a company called NourishLife "that they were engaging in deceptive advertising."
According to the company, it produces "Nutritional support for healthy speech development," and touts its products as "a patented nutritional formula developed by a pediatrician to support normal and healthy speech development and maintenance."
Except Patten says her group believes the products "may have health risks." She says that, in addition to the warning letter to the company, Truth In Advertising also plans to file a complaint with government agencies.
Vlock believes too many consumers still have no idea that the site is up and operating and — in what could be considered by some an ironic note — wants a major advertising campaign to promote the organization and its goals.
"My inclination is to go with TV advertising," Vlock says; he hopes to begin the campaign within the next two to three months. In order for the site's concept of consumer involvement to work, he says, "It needs to be used very broadly."
The idea of advertising a truth-in-advertising website may sound a little counter-intuitive, but Vlock insists the advocacy group isn't in the least against good advertising.
"Advertising plays an absolutely essential role" in telling consumers about the products that are out there, he says. In fact, Vlock adds, "There's nothing at all wrong with putting a hot girl in a beer advertisement."
Another advantage to a big national publicity campaign about the new website is that it will put American industry and commerce on notice.
Vlock believes there will be industry organizations that will cheer the creation of this ad watchdog group because it will help weed out the bad players in the system. But there will also be plenty of businesses and industries that won't like TruthInAdvertising.org at all, he says.
And for those types, Vlock believes, a big ad campaign telling the world about the new organization "will be sort of a shot across the bows."