FTC Rethinks Bad Pun?

Thom Lambert —  11 June 2007

Geoff’s post last week on the FTC’s move to block the Whole Foods/Wild Oats merger poked fun at a stupid pun appearing in the agency’s press release: “If Whole Foods is allowed to devour Wild Oats, it will mean higher prices, reduced quality, and fewer choices for consumers. That is a deal consumers should not be required to swallow.” Geoff called the remark “very punny.” I, too, thought the remark was a bit too cute when I read it last Wednesday on the FTC’s website. A number of news articles on the FTC’s decision (e.g., here, here, and here) quoted the same pun from the press release. One assumes it was formulated as a soundbite for news stories.

This morning, I began writing a short op-ed on the Whole Foods/Wild Oats affair for the eSapience Center for Competition Policy, and I wanted to quote some language from the FTC’s press release. Lo and behold, the goofy “deal consumers should not be required to swallow” language has been excised! How odd. Did the Commission decide its cutesy language was a bit flippant, suggesting that its analysis might have been as well? Who knows.

Thom Lambert


I am a law professor at the University of Missouri Law School. I teach antitrust law, business organizations, and contracts. My scholarship focuses on regulatory theory, with a particular emphasis on antitrust.

3 responses to FTC Rethinks Bad Pun?


    The FTC has been using “creative punny language” to publicize its consumer protection actions since the Jodie Bernstein era, and might well disagree with your opinion on its talent. This is the first time I’m aware of that it revised a release’s tone. Perhaps it reflects core differences between the goals of advertising and promotion and ‘pure’ news, as well as the usual differences between BC and BCP targets.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. TRUTH ON THE MARKET » PIPEs - June 12, 2007

    […] Diana Bixler on FTC Rethinks Bad Pun?.~Efficient Happiness on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.Non-Sequiturs: 06.11.07 | Fair or Unfair on FTC Rethinks Bad Pun?.TRUTH ON THE MARKET » FTC Rethinks Bad Pun? on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.tim zinnecker on Coffeemaker Found. Time to Move On..Thom on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.Geoffrey Manne on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.Alex on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.Geoffrey Manne on Premium natural and organic bulls**t.market failure, right here on Premium natural and organic bulls**t. […]

  2. Non-Sequiturs: 06.11.07 | Fair or Unfair - June 12, 2007

    […] * The FTC may be good at many things, but creative punny language is not one of them. [Truth on the Market] […]