The Arizona Attorney General recently issued a warning about deceptive advertisements being distributed in Arizona about the installation of solar power systems. The Arizona AG's office appeared to be concerned that the ads misled consumers about whether the services were being provided by a government agency.
According to the Arizona AG, the ads claim to be a “Public Notice” from the “Maricopa County Solar Initiative,” and claim that the government is "paying to have solar energy systems installed on qualified homes in this neighborhood.” The Arizona AG also alleged that that the company improperly used a modified version of the Maricopa County seal. When consumers responded to the ad, the Arizona AG said that they are subjected to a solar sales pitch by a private company.
The Arizona AG said that similar advertisements appeared in Nevada earlier this year.
Federal and state regulators look closely at ads that use government-style seals -- or that appear to be official government notices. If you're using an actual government seal, or something that looks like one, you should make sure that the ad isn't going to mislead consumers about whether the product is being provided by a government agency or is endorsed or approved by one. Similarly, although it may seem like an effective marketing technique, it's probably going to be considered to be a deceptive practice if you trick consumers into reviewing an ad by making them think that it's an official government notice, when it really isn't.