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Wintertime for Deceptive Advertising?

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  • Jonathan Zinman
  • Eric Zitzewitz

Abstract

Casual empiricism suggests that deceptive advertising about product quality is prevalent, and several classes of theories explore its causes and consequences. We provide some unusually sharp empirical evidence on the extent, mechanics, and dynamics of deceptive advertising. Ski resorts self-report substantially more natural snowfall on weekends. Resorts that plausibly reap greater benefits from exaggerating do it more. Data on website visits suggests that consumers are appropriately skeptical of weekend reports. We find little evidence that competition restrains or encourages exaggeration. Near the end of our sample period, a new iPhone application feature makes it easier for skiers share information on ski conditions in real time. Exaggeration falls sharply, especially at resorts with better iPhone reception.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Zinman & Eric Zitzewitz, 2012. "Wintertime for Deceptive Advertising?," NBER Working Papers 17829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17829
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sauer, Raymond D & Leffler, Keith B, 1990. "Did the Federal Trade Commission's Advertising Substantiation Program Promote More Credible Advertising?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 191-203, March.
    2. Christine Jolls & Cass R. Sunstein, 2006. "Debiasing through Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 199-242, January.
    3. Glaeser, Edward L. & Ujhelyi, Gergely, 2010. "Regulating misinformation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 247-257, April.
    4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Coarse Thinking and Persuasion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 577-619.
    5. Ginger Zhe Jin & Andrew Kato, 2006. "Price, quality, and reputation: evidence from an online field experiment," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 983-1005, December.
    6. Sophia Rabe-Hesketh & Anders Skrondal & Andrew Pickles, 2004. "Generalized multilevel structural equation modeling," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 167-190, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rhodes, Andrew & Wilson, Chris M, 2015. "False Advertising," MPRA Paper 68869, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • K29 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Other
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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