True or False? You Decide!
Whether on TV, or the bus or train, consumers face a barrage of advertisements throughout the day. Amidst the enticing slogans and images, it can be hard to tell which products and services are really worth the hype – and which could lead to shopper’s remorse.
Before you dial that toll-free number or checkout your online shopping cart, take a moment to educate yourself about what exactly you are (or are not) buying. There’s more to advertising than you might think, and understanding exactly how advertisers attract consumers can alert you to potential deceit.
False advertising is any type of promotion that deceives consumers. In most cases, false advertising leads the consumer to believe that he is somehow benefiting from a purchase. He may think he is getting a good deal, or saving money – actually, advantage advertiser! These are what we call slippery tactics on the part of advertisers. You need to closely observe the content of an advertisement to spot the misleading subtext and not be sucked in by the design and pop-ups.
Advertisers need to be careful about stating facts about their products. It is necessary for advertising companies to provide the entire information about their product. For example, an Ad about Subway sways the reader to believe that their sandwiches are so healthy that you can actually lose weight from simply eating it. The Ad makes the sandwich look good and surrounds it with slogans that promote weight loss and freshness. However, when you look at the whole Subway menu, some of the items are unhealthy. The Meatball Marinara, a popular Subway sandwich, for example, contains 1,160 calories, compared to MacDonald’s Big Mac only has 590 calories.
Some advertising companies tend leave out information in their Ads just to gain favourable publicity and the dollars.
A common type of deceptive advertisement is any commercial that gives incorrect or misleading information regarding a product’s price. For example, if an Ad claims that a product’s price has been lowered 20 percent, but the advertised product never sold at a previous higher price, the Ad may be deceptive.
Another common type of misleading advertisement is the bait-and-switch. In a bait-and-switch, an advertiser makes a particular claim about the price or availability of a product while never intending to actually sell the product, or to sell it for a much higher price. When customers respond to the Ad, the seller exploits their interest to try to market them either a more expensive product or a different price than was advertised.
Unethical or false advertising also includes perfect images in their Ads to look stimulating for the public. There was a case in 2009. A certain Ad for its Definity eye cream showed former model Twiggy looking wrinkle free and a whole lot younger than her years. As it turned out (and not surprisingly so), the Ad was retouched. Not only was this Ad a misrepresentation of the product, it also raised the ire of consumers, because of its negative portrayal of real women.
The vague claim is simply not clear. This category often overlaps with others. The key to the vague claim is the use of words that are colourful but meaningless, as well as the use of subjective and emotional opinions that defy verification. For example, “Lips have never looked so luscious.” Really! Can you imagine trying to prove or disprove such a claim?
Unethical/False advertising will often distort and misrepresent its product and well as seek secretive means of cajoling or influencing its target audience. Some Ads may give false or misleading information on the value of the product. It is crucial to pay close attention to the specific product Ads before purchasing.
On the other hand, an ethical/truthful Ad never distorts a product’s capabilities, or hide its defects. It is also clear about its intentions, refraining from subliminal messages or hidden agendas.
It’s all up to you – you decide!
By Krizia Ann, CorpMedia