Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
I was going through Forum Posts that had not been placed in a category and came across your question... Personally, I nominate James Ziegler for the position of National Dealer Advertising Claims Czar! However, on a more serious note I have some experience on this topic.
First and foremost, if nobody files a formal complaint about claims made in a dealership's advertising, then there will most likely never be any need for that dealer to provide any substantiation of those claims... However, in many states it is getting easier and more convenient for any citizen to go online and report allegations of false or misleading statements to that State's Attorney General (AG). In California the is the Department of Consumer Affairs (CA) which contacts dealers and demands proof or evidence of claims made in a dealer's advertising, regardless of media channel... Or, at least they did back in the day before California entered the "Undeclared Bankruptcy" that they are currently in!
Several States which have well funded and staffed Attorneys General will periodically contact dealers who make claims in their advertising to request validation, certification, OEM Letters and other means of validating claims made. This type of "Proactive Enforcement by a States's AG is getting far more scarce since the onset of declining tax receipts caused by the Great Recession and the current stagnant growth in our economy which drives government funding... In other words, it is now a good time for the liars and cheats of the business world to get away with false claims made in advertising...
I can tell you from first-hand experience that before California went bankrupt the Department of Consumer Affairs sent me several letters about my dealership's advertising which required me to provide third party substantiation within ten days of receiving their Certified Mail. In most cases I was able to provide a letter from my OEM District Sales Manager on the car company's letterhead which satisfied California Department of CA. In cases where I tried using internally generated reports or evidence, that California CA deemed inadequate, they required my dealership to pay for equal sized and run frequency advertising campaigns retracting the alleged "False Statements" I had advertised previously... Which is far worse than a fine! Since many dealers experienced this sort of "Smack Down" at the hands of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the REALLY egregious false advertising of the 70's and 80's died off throughout the 90's and 2000's... However, given the current Statewide reductions in government services, it may become open season again in California...
Here in Arizona it is still the Wild Wild West and virtually any advertising claims are immune from negative repercussion unless a consumer or competitor files a formal complaint... But, the Arizona AG makes that difficult enough that most whiners do not have the where withal to complete the process... BTW, the Bus Shelter advertising poster shown above features an awesome "Car Guy" friend of mine who worked with me at the time in Phoenix because he could no longer obtain an automotive sales occupational license in California. Truly, he was a great car guy who simply made a mistake while selling Toyotas in California that resulted in his banishment from the car business in that State... But, here in Arizona he is like an Automotive God!
And, if you piss off the wrong dealer, then our own Sheriff Joe Arpaio will arrest the anti-dealer miscreant and stuff their ass into a tent city on the middle of the desert without any air conditioning for a few weeks to see if you still want to continue complaining about legitimate Arizona businesses... The Feds keep trying to get rid of our very special Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but witnesses against him are quickly neutralized to prevent any effective action against the Law of Sheriff Joe from continuing to rule Maricopa County unabated. The good businesses of Phoenix are safe from persecution as long as they make donations to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and do not publicize any criticisms against his lawful reign.