False Advertising

We have all fallen prey to false advertising, often buying a product from a reputable company and ending up with a dud. I did just that two months ago: I bought a pair of Reebok “easy tone”and ended up with a particularly sore foot within two weeks while walking my canines. Like everyone, I’m bombarded daily by advertising everywhere I happen to be, from the television ads at home to “sponsored links” in Facebook, slide adverts in banks & shops, on the buses, in trains, even in taxicabs, and if that won’t get to you there are publicity campaigns afoot via texts and tons, literally, of flyers clogging up mailboxes with promises of a better life awaiting a single purchase of the most amazing elixir man/woman has ever known ad nauseam, or in my case, a pair of shoes which will, magically, tone up my legs as I take my evening walk and make Hollywood stars tremble with envy.

Sure, we know that in order to sell their products advertisers strive to make them look as good as possible, using puffery and weasel words like “better”, “unbelievable”, “finest” et cetera. My dictionary defines “deception” as a form of trickery involving the selling of goods or services to consumers. However puffing and weasel words are generally not considered deceptive in the eyes of the law chiefly because prospective buyers should be savvy enough to avoid being caught. Savvy? Lovely word. Except when one is not. When the major banks & financial institutions call you and sweet talk into remortgaging at an exceptionally low rate the un-savvy (the vulnerable) will fall for their cheap tricks…but that’s another post.

And from Wiki:

False advertising or deceptive advertising is the use of false or misleading statements in advertising. As advertising has the potential to persuade people into commercial transactions that they might otherwise avoid, many governments around the world use regulations to control false, deceptive or misleading advertising. Truth refers to essentially the same concept, that customers have the right to know what they are buying, and that all necessary information should be on the label.

False advertising, in the most blatant of contexts, is illegal in most countries. However, advertisers still find ways to deceive consumers in ways that are not illegal.

Apart from the obvious lies (see pic above) one of the most blatant con is known as “bait and switch,” a lowbrow tactic sellers use to get you to buy an upgrade of the original product on sale: say you’re in great need of a new vacuum cleaner and note a fetching advert in your local paper. When you show up the salesperson will tell you how bad the advertised item really is and how the more expensive item is much, much better. That’s because the item you saw in the advert does not exist, and if it does, they have no intention to sell it hence the “switch”.

However it is in the supermarkets where “false advertising” reigns supreme, with their aisles bursting with products trumpeting health benefits that exist only in the minds of overpaid marketing nerds. Psst…wanna buy a toothpaste that’s going to make your choppers whiter than those of George Hamilton’s? How about a handful of chocolate-coated blueberries rich in “heavenly antioxidants” which will (with luck) make you feel like a teenager on steroids? Why not trying the latest rage, de-ionised water so you can “ditch the Viagra” and get “excited naturally”! The mind boggles.

Another trap is “reduced fat.” What is reduced fat? Fat on holidays? Many don’t realize that the words “fat free” or “reduced fat” do not also mean “calorie free.” As a result we ingest far too much “fat free” food, believing that it will not add weight, since, alas, it is dubbed “fat free” or “reduced fat.” Yet it is the calories in these “fat-free” foods that cause the weight gain. Weight gain, you say? Hey, let me tell you about this incredible new diet which will let you shed pounds as you watch your favorite rerun of Pork & Mindy while eating triple amounts of your favorite takeout! No sweat. It’s all good. I take Pay Pal, thank you.

It seems that my story has a happy ending: Reebok got caught and the company is in the process of reimbursing those, who like me, have found that their lower limbs disliked intensely the “easy tone” rubber shoes. There must be a moral in that.

This entry was posted in Environmental Issue, Food, Health and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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