Top News

Advertising And Its Deceptions; Don’t Be Fooled by Commercials

When it comes to advertising, companies will say pretty much anything when selling their product.
Commercials are filled with so many false promises and fake guarantees that you can’t let these “great deals” pull you into buying something that’s really not worth it in the end.

Commercials are filled with so many false promises and fake guarantees that you can’t let these “great deals” pull you into buying something that’s really not worth it in the end.  | Howard Young/ flickr.com

Commercials are filled with so many false promises and fake guarantees that you can’t let these “great deals” pull you into buying something that’s really not worth it in the end. | Howard Young/ flickr.com

Even if it’s just the way a company decides to word something on the product, they can get away with so much based on technicalities.
That’s why it helps to know when one of these things is being used just to get your attention.

Starting off with the fake guarantees companies use: they can get away with them because the thing they’re guaranteeing really can’t be proved at all!
For example, Old Spice advertises for a body wash which has the phrase, “3X clean guaranteed” printed on the front of every bottle.

That brings me to the question of, “What the hell is ‘3X clean’ and how could Old Spice ever guarantee that?”
Should I believe if I went back to CVS and claimed the body wash only got me “2X clean” I could get my money back?

Probably not, but that would be a very interesting conversation to have with the cashier.

Another trick companies love to use is throwing in some special deal with the product when in reality it’s worthless and comes with many stipulations.
For example, companies say all the time if you buy their product you’ll receive a “free gift.” Awesome!

Except, if you read the small print below, it’s bound to be filled with things like, “Gift only eligible if purchase is over $500.

Availability of the free gift is subject to change. There is a service fee of $8.00 for the free gift. Free gift is only available at participating stores in the downtown Detroit area.
If you are reading this right now you have become ineligible to receive the free gift. Free gift does not actually exist.”

Even if it’s not an actual product, companies will try to draw people to events with deals like, “guys drink free,” or “free food and drink provided.”

When a promotion company says, “guys drink free,” what that really means is guys get free Dixie cups of toilet water mixed with the alcohol mopped off the floor from last week’s event.
Technically with the phrase, “guys drink free” they could just direct you to an old runoff pipe hanging from the side of the building either pouring rain water or sewage — it’s up to you to figure it out.

And when an event claims there will be “free food and drink provided,” “free food” could mean an old bag of cotton candy they found. And by cotton candy they mean wall insulation. (Yum!)

Finally, one of the best methods used is the time constraint. This is only used on products being sold on TV, but they’ll say something like, “If you call in the next 15 minutes we’ll double the order for free!
But you need to call right now before it’s too late!”

First off, nobody needs one order of whatever’s being sold on TV; that’s why it’s being sold on TV.
Second off, even if you called after the 15 minutes, they’re still going to double your order no matter what.

If you ever try to order one of these products, you’ll never hear the sales representative say, “Oh wait, looks like our commercial on Cartoon Network at 3 a.m. was on 18 minutes ago.
Sorry, sir, I can’t give you the double order on the ‘Shake Weight for Men.’”

So, next time you’re watching a commercial or reading about some product, look out for a few of these tricks companies use to try to get your attention.
As long as you never buy something, attend an event solely based on a bonus deal, or believe some fake guarantee, you should be fine.

Except that getting a free “Snuggie” for my dog with the purchase of one is just so damn hard to turn down.

John Jacobs can be reached at jjacobs@spartans.ut.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: