Deceptive advertising can be quite funny… but usually it isn’t.
I didn’t see that advertising board pictured above but I did come across one that said ‘FREE’ on one line and then ‘BEER’ on another in great big letters so that was all I could read as I drove by.
When I stopped, parked and went up to the bar, however, I discovered there was some fine print.
Between the word ‘FREE’ and the word ‘BEER’ there was a line that said, in very small letters, ‘internet, and draft’.
So the sign actually said, ‘free internet, and draft beer’.
I thought that was pretty good, and I don’t mind at all if the misleading sign brings in business because anyone who checks out signs like that should be expecting to find a catch.
But still, one of the main reasons it is funny is because most of us accept there will be a catch in pretty much all the adverts we see. That bothers me.
It’s not that the adverts are out and out lies; it’s just that they don’t really say what they appear to be saying.
For example; there is one for a tooth paste that promises to make your teeth up to three shades whiter.
What does up to three times mean?
I guess it mean your teeth will not get any more than three shades whiter but it doesn’t guarantee they will get any whiter at all… or even that they won’t get darker.
And how much is one shade?
There is another one for a skin care product that claims 91 percent of the women surveyed would recommend the product to a friend.
Yeah, I guess that sounds good, but how many women were surveyed, and what did the nine percent who wouldn’t recommend the product think was bad about it?
Then there are all those promotions we see in stores for up to 50 percent off this and up to half price on that.
It just doesn’t mean anything; up to 50 percent off could mean 1 percent or even 0 percent off.
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit idealistic here; advertising has always misrepresented the facts, but I worry that this lack of respect for the truth is becoming far too acceptable in all areas of the business world.
The other day I went into a bank over here in England to set up a student account for my daughter before she went off to university.
The bank we chose offered more interest than any of the others so it was an easy choice but while we were in there the man setting up the account told us my daughter would get £50 in Amazon vouchers if she recommended me to set up a different account of my own.
That’s over P650 in vouchers. It was a no-brainer so the next week I went back and opened my account and was assured once again that my daughter really would get the vouchers for referring me.
Guess what? She didn’t. The banker had got his facts all wrong but when he realised his mistake he wouldn’t admit he’d done anything wrong or unethical.
He seemed to think we should have known better than to expect such a good deal.