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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Attorney General Files Action Against Sony Pictures for Deceptive Advertising of Movies

August 13, 2001

Attorney General Hardy Myers today sent a strong message to the motion picture industry by filing a court action against a national movie producer/distributor for deceptive advertising in promoting five new movies. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed today in Marion County Circuit Court is Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. of Culver City, California.

"The entire movie industry loses credibility with the public when advertising campaigns use phony movie reviewers and employees in testimonials to promote movies," Myers said. "Oregonians were mislead by deceptive advertisements and consumers' perception of advertising in general was damaged."

The Department of Justice, following leads from a New York Times article about possible deception by Sony, obtained information concerning misleading advertising campaigns for the movies, "Hallow," "Vertical Limit," "Knights Tale," "The Animal," and "The Patriot."

The campaigns contained quotations attributed to a movie reviewer named David Manning from Ridgfield, Connecticut such as "one heck of a scary ride!" for "Vertical Limit" and "this year's hottest new star" in reference to actor Heath Ledger in "A Knights Tale." Investigators found that Sony fabricated the quotes and the person.

Testimonial spots were used by Sony in "The Patriot" campaign with several supposedly ordinary movie-goers just leaving a viewing and describing the film as a "perfect date movie." In fact, the average movie-goers turned out to be Tamaya Petteway, the executive assistant to Columbia's executive vice president for creative advertising and another Sony staff member, Anthony Jefferson.

In the court action, Sony agrees to only use actual movie reviewers and actual quotes in any promotion, to disclose any fictitious persons used in promotions as such and to never use employees or others paid by Sony to provide testimonials regarding movies unless those facts are clearly disclosed.

Sony also paid the Oregon Department of Justice $25,000 for its consumer protection and education fund.

Consumers wanting information about consumer protection issues in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. The Oregon Department of Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.


Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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