Advertising and marketing are frequently accused of manipulating and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, ads and commercials, although belonging to the realm of old-fashioned outbound marketing, are still among the most popular advertising strategies, and it’s unlikely that this will change anytime soon. We’re all aware that we won’t get a dazzling, white teeth in just two weeks with the help of that expensive toothpaste, just like all those anti-aging wrinkle creams are a far cry from being miraculous. Why, then, we always fall for those promises? Is there truth in advertising and is it possible to promote a product without at least a small amount of bending the truth?
The power of advertising
No matter how unpleasant it sounds, people are very susceptible and easily influenced by advertising. They can’t be blamed because this practice heavily relies on psychology and that’s exactly what makes it so successful and persuasive. Instead of simply stating features of their products, brands pay more attention to highlighting their benefits and how they will improve customers’ lives. This emotional appeal is what highly influences customer behavior and drives them to spend hundreds of dollars on particular smartphones, which have become more than mere communication devices – they make their consumers feel like members of an exclusive group.
We can’t be unfair and say that brands haven’t warned you that their products won’t exactly work magic and deliver what commercials and ads claim. They always do, but the trouble is that nobody wants to read the fine print, so companies can tell you: But, we told you, didn’t we? Our magical pill can help you lose 20 pounds in two months only if you pair it with a strict diet and regular, strenuous workouts. This controversial practice can be observed not only when it comes to beauty products or cosmetics but also in the pharmaceutical industry, where information about less favorable effects or terms and conditions displayed in mouse print can lead to some more serious consequences. This may be unethical, but on the other hand, it’s irresponsible on the part of consumers to expect certain results without reading relevant information and guidelines.
A thin line
Fortunately, there are situations when your complaint can be accepted. Namely, besides bending the truth to make their products more attractive and desirable, companies sometimes make false claims. If you think that only shady businesses that make unrealistic promises resort to this, you’re wrong. For example, one of the most popular car brands, Volkswagen, was caught red-handed trying to modify emissions tests, and it’s still one of the biggest scandals in the auto industry. Believe it or not, but Red Bull, the Austrian energy drinks company, was sued in 2014 over its “Red Bull Gives You Wings” slogan, by a customer who said that despite the fact that he had been consuming the drink for 10 years, he never grew wings. New Balance was also engaged in false claims over their special toning sneakers, that could allegedly prompt the body to burn more calories by activating several major muscle groups. In all three cases, the companies had to pay significant amounts of money to their customers. If you feel that you’ve been deceived and led to believe that a certain product has certain features and benefits which it doesn’t, seasoned consumer fraud lawyers can help you out.
Right or wrong?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between bending and sugar coating the truth. Various countries have established regulations with the aim of protecting consumers, and companies have to comply with those regulations. For example, in the US, claims in ads and commercials have to be evidence-based, and this especially refers to food, OTC drugs, dietary supplements, and various health-related products. However, there are numerous loopholes that sometimes help them get away with fake claims or hide unfavorable information. One of the most striking examples can be found in the cosmetic industry. Namely, whenever manufacturers want to smuggle harmful chemicals without disclosing it directly, they simply put the term “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label and they’re off the hook. Canada has a very strict Consumer Protection Legislation, and the latest addition to this set of rules is so-called CASL, which will save Canadians from unsolicited emails and spam.
It’s hard to tell whether there’s truth in advertising, but it’s clear that some brands are even ready to risk their reputation by using false claims in order to make a profit, but in the long run, this strategy has a boomerang effect.