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Asterisks Banned In Advertising, Marketing
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WASHINGTON - "You're Pre-Approved*", "You May Already Be A Winner*!", and "Credit Limit Up To $5,000*" are now going the way of "Cures what ails you" in the face of new legislation aimed at encouraging honesty in advertising. Rather than trying to target specific language, the bill bars use of the asterisk and other footnote symbols in advertising and marketing materials. "The only purpose these symbols serve is to explain why the text they are attached to isn't true," said Senator Conrad Burns, author and sponsor of the bill, "We have taken that weapon out of their hands."

Without a way to distance the truth from the marketing-speak, advertisers will now need to find ways to word their materials that still mislead the reader, but without the use of the ubiquitous asterisk. "The pharmaceutical sector has held the vanguard in the area of misleading consumers without words," said advertising expert Hugh Ingrid, "They can show you a smiling man and subtly clue you in to what caused the smile, without uttering a word. That's the wave of the advertising future."

Other advertisers don't agree with Ingrid's roll-with-the-punches attitude. "Let's face facts," said Wilford Dancer of Greater Health and Happiness, Inc, "Nobody wants to hear the truth. You're fat. Guess what? Eat less and exercise. Duh. But nobody wants to hear that. They want to hear, 'Take Oatmeal enriched Gingko-Bobo-Fen tablets, you'll lose ten pounds a day!*' So I say that. I explain that the statement hasn't been evaluated by the FDA and the product isn't intended to actually treat obesity. Is that so wrong, giving the people what they want? "

Under the new law, it will indeed be wrong, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Charity groups and political groups will, of course, be exempt.
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