BP #10: “Infomercial sleeper ‘My Pillow’ gets $1 million wake-up call over false medical claims”

The company My Pillow was accused of false advertising in their infomercials. Since 2005 the infomercials were very successful and had a couple celebrity endorsements helping promote the product at first. The product is a poly-foam design of pillow that promises comfort, coolness, and no flopping around throughout the night.

“My Pillow claimed it could prevent sleep loss associated with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, neck pain, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, migraines and other ailments. This caught the skeptical eye of consumer watchdog group Truth in Advertising.org, which investigated the claims and argued there was no support from scientific evidence” (Guarino).

Another issue is that the My Pillow creator, Micael J. Lindell, claimed to be a “sleep expert” but had no formal training. My Pillow ended up paying over $1 million dollars over the false advertisement.

False advertising is an issue of integrity. Philosopher Lynne McFall states a person of integrity believes their beliefs are difficult to uphold in the face of challenges or temptations. The goal of advertisers is to persuade consumers to buy a product. A potential temptation could be twisting the truth to make a product become more appealing. This was the case in the My Pillow situation but the company caved and falsely advertised benefits. Integrity is about right and wrong action and false advertisement is a wrong action. McFall talks about coherence being intentional, that doing the right thing isn’t enough, it has to be done for the right reasons. Even when there is an opportunity to lie a little in advertising, advertisers should want to be transparent to the public and intentionally do the right thing for customers.

Lindell claiming himself as a sleep expert does not meet any qualifications philosopher, Michael D. Bayles , requires professionals. Lindell does not even match Bayles’ first requirement of a common feature to be professional: certification. Lindell used the title of “sleep expert” when he had “no formal training as such” therefore, he does not hold any certification (Guarino). The rest of the common features include members of the profession enjoy a high degree of autonomy and an organization of members that advocates for the profession in a way that goes beyond their economic interests. In relation to advertising, mentioning the true/proven benefits even if it doesn’t draw in as many consumers as lies would fit this feature because it’s the right thing to do despite economic interest.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/03/infomercial-sensation-my-pillow-gets-1-million-wake-up-call-over-false-medical-claims/

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