NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A wave of criticism that started two weeks ago reached a crescendo this morning when Washington-based advocacy group Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, charging General Motors with deceptive advertising.
CEI claims the Detroit car maker misled the public when it said in a national TV ad it has paid back its Troubled Assets Relief Program bailout loan from the government. The spot, which was created by McCann Erickson, Detroit, ended its run last week. A McCann spokeswoman referred calls to the automaker.
The commercial featured GM Chairman-CEO Ed Whitacre walking through an assembly plant and saying that "we have repaid our government loan in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule."
Critics, however, argue that the ad is somewhat disingenuous, saying the repayment came from another government bailout account provided by TARP -- or as one TV pundit described it, "paying off your MasterCard with your Visa."
In the complaint filed with the FTC, CEI says the ad "gives the false impression that GM has used its own funds to pay back all the bailout money that it received from the federal government. In fact, GM has only repaid a fraction of those funds -- barely 10%. Moreover, GM apparently repaid its loan by using other federal funds."
"GM might argue that its ad is literally accurate, but the fact is it's completely misleading," said Hans Bader, senior attorney for CEI, which describes itself as a "public interest group dedicated to free enterprise and limited government."
On a completely different topic - from a simpler media time, so long to Ernie Harwell. Ernie was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 40 years. His voice was part of summer as a kid growing up within earshot of Detroit radio.
So long Ernie