Insights:Really? Truth and hyperbole
As I sat down for “the world’s best cup of coffee” I considered if I needed “wings” today and should have a energy drink instead.
The truth is the coffee was barely drinkable and there would certainly be no wings sprouting on my back no matter how much energy drink I chugged.
Being truthful in advertising materials is not just a smart thing to do, but a law, a federal law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
In a broad stroke this is what the FTC says are the truth-in-advertising rules:
- Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
- Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
There are quite a few other federal laws that apply to advertising and some states have even more. You can visit FTC.gov for more information.
In addition to fines and other penalties for lying or intentionally misleading consumers, you will also most likely hurt your brand.
You may in fact kill your brand.
People don’t like to be lied to, tricked or scammed, and they are very quick to show their displeasure by not buying your product or service.
They are also quick to tell everyone what a horrible company you are and with social media that message can go far and wide very quickly.
Now let’s get back to that “world’s best cup of coffee”. How can companies make claims like world’s best coffee, works like magic or makes you feel ten feet tall?
Hyperbole, an obvious and intentional exaggeration, is a creative device that the FTC allows marketers to use.
The non-scientific approach the FTC uses to decide if you’re being deceptive or just having fun is whether a “reasonable consumer” would understand it as an exaggeration or could be fooled into thinking it’s a real claim.
Hyperbole can be an extremely funny, attention-getting and memorable device for marketing messages, but before you use it be sure to ask yourself…would a “reasonable consumer’ get the gag?
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