False Advertising - Is Deception A Selling Point?
Selling Tactics - False Advertising
This article discusses advertising that has been created to generate sales via deception. This is done by misrepresenting available product data to create non-existent plus points to promote the product or service concerned.
Deceptive advertising or advertising that is designed to make the viewer of the ad draw conclusions in favor of a product or service that could lead to the viewer to making a purchase, is indeed unacceptable.
Ambiguous statements made in certain advertisements followed up by suggestions to the viewer to pay attention to that part of the ambiguity that conveys a favorable view of a product or service, is quite common in recent times.
These ads are cleverly worded with impressions generated by ambiguity and other forms of verbal juggling and made conducive to be defendable by a disclaimer that would normally be displayed alongside.
Business Ethics - Or Else?
False Statements In Advertisements
The consumer is aware that disclaimers are always associated with the legal aspect involving the product or service and is known to have no bearing on any description of the quality of the product or service concerned.
Nobody reads disclaimers and very few would care to analyze the text of an advertisement. Often an ad is taken on face value. An existing interest in a product or service is exactly what causes the consumer to be attracted by the caption of an ad.
If the text or the headers or sub headers of the ad makes reference to the qualities of the product or service that the consumer is hoping the product or service would have, then automatically the consumer gets the feel that this is exactly what he or she is looking for!
It's purely psychological. Sales are generated by this method. Enhancing the plus points or hamming up the quality of a product within acceptable limits is all right, but to go beyond is a form of deception.
Disclaimers In Avertisements
Existing laws against deceptive advertising or false advertising are "dealt with" by carefully worded disclaimers.
Of late I understand that in online advertisements, it has been stressed that disclaimers be placed at prominent points on the ads that promote products and services.
These disclaimers should clearly indicate the negative side or the conditions under which the product could malfunction and also give an indication of how such conditions could arise.
There are also guidelines on how to word disclaimers and what aspect of the promised qualities of whatever it is that is advertised should be referred to, by such disclaimers.
Conditions Do Apply
Ethics Of Selling
My Story - How I was Deceived
Here is my story of how I was deceived, not exactly by ad, but by the label on an item which I once purchased from a reputed store.
I happen to be a music fan from my childhood in the sixties. I still have some of the vinyl records which belonged to my brother when I was a kid.
With the advancement of technology and the emergence of CDs, I developed a desire to have all my favorites of yester-year on compact disks.
The story revolves around a purchase I made at a reputed CD shop in the city. The sleeve of the CD contained a picture of a particular musical group which happened to be a favorite of mine.
The caption on top read "The very best of ... " followed by the name of the band. Looking at the picture on the cover I was able to recognize the leader of the band as well as the other members.
The list of tracks printed on the sleeve mentioned all their number one hits.This was indeed a selling point, all their number one hits squeezed into one compact disk.
Ethics In Advertising
Deceptive And Misleading Forms Of Advertising
There was just one copy of that CD available that day. So I picked it off the shelf, and safely clutching it in my hand, lest somebody else notices it and wants to grab it, continued to look around viewing the other CDs on display.
The price was marked $6.00. It contained eighteen tracks and included two of my favorites. I would have gladly paid that $6.00 even if it had contained only these two tracks and nothing else.
I have done such things in the past, like having purchased a cassette tape although it contained only one track which happened to be a favorite. Many people do.
In a case like this, the consumer notices something that he is looking for, or has stumbled upon something that he would like to have. The purchase has been induced not by any form of deception but by simply indicating what the product offers.
The Psychology Involved In Advertising
About Ethical And Unethical Forms Of Advertising
Unethical Advertising - A Selling Point
I then walked up to the cashier, pulled out my credit card and handed it over to him along with the CD. While he scanned the magnetic strip and punched in my credit card details, I said to him how fortunate I thought I was to grab that last available copy. He confirmed that I was indeed fortunate.
My CD player at that time was not in working order. It needed to be repaired. So, as I reached home I put on my earphones and inserted the disk into my computer's drive. The music started playing ... but ... the band sounded somewhat different from what they usually sound! I kept on skipping tracks.
Since they sounded different, I thought some of those tracks may be older versions of popular songs which were recorded before the band gained fame. But it wasn't so. None of those tracks sounded similar to the original versions that I was used to hearing.
I put away the disk hoping to play it on my CD-player once I get it repaired. When my CD-player was finally put right, I gave this CD another spin and listened to the tracks once more via my two high wattage speakers.
Mind Invasion In Advertising? The Future Of Ethics In Advertising
You see, this time, to my utter disappointment I realized without any doubt at all, that this was not the band that I wanted to listen to.
A thought came into my mind. Have I been a victim of some kind of deception? Well, one more look at the picture of the band that was on the sleeve of the CD dispelled all doubts that this was indeed the band whose music I wanted.
Their music sounded totally different. The music was definitely not generated by the band whose music I wanted to listen to. It was not them at all. It was some other group playing the very same music, and they were sounding somewhat alike too.
Having been exposed to all types of music from my very young days, and having had many favorite artists, it was my experience that told me that this was certainly not the musical group I had hoped it would be. Then what about the picture? Well, the picture was the selling point.
Law In Business And Advertising
Once more I carefully examined the cover of the CD and the flip side of it.
I thought of reading the introduction which preceded the list of tracks. I did, and It was then that I spotted a cleverly worded statement which was hidden within the introductory phrases. It went like this ... "This collection contains faithful renditions of ... "
So that's it! "Faithful Renditions." I have purchased a CD containing music played not by the band whose picture adorned the cover of the CD, but by another band playing similar music.
The picture of the band whose music has been copied by an unknown band appeared on the CD cover to "encourage" the music enthusiast to buy.
There was no mention of the name of the band that was reproducing the music originally played by the band in the picture.
However, the picture of the five members of the group was an original. Of course the picture was deliberately placed there to deceive the buyer.
The picture was indeed the deception, the very point which induces the buyer to make his decision, the most important selling point from the point of view of the producer of the CD.
In a court of law, the declaration would be that he who intends purchasing this CD is supposed to read the text on the cover and properly interpret the term "Faithful Renditions," and then make his decision.
This is how the law works. The law has loopholes, exploitable by anyone. Loopholes, almost as if to say "come on, give it a shot!"
Marketing And Advertising
Advertising is an integral part of marketing. Of course marketing a product or service involves a whole lot of issues. Once these issues have been addressed the focus turns to advertising in order to generate the final results, which is sales.
Advertising is the main ingredient that deals the final blow in announcing the product or service to the public. Along with announcing the existence and availability of the product, its special qualities also need to be mentioned in order for the consumer to compare with existing brands and make a decision.
This is where the advertising component of the organization over performs. Creating and designing advertisements deliberately to mislead the consumer into making a purchase by means of deceptive advertising. This is exactly what needs to be contained and prevented from taking place.
Laws Governing Advertising Methods
Existing business laws have to be called upon to address these issues such that the consumer is protected from deception. Restricting the hamming up process in the product description is one way this could be achieved.
However, making statements like "World's Number One," or "The Choice Of The People," are quite common and clearly understood as simply stock phrases that are used to "tidy up" the advertisements.
Phrases like these are commonly used by advertisers only to dress up the advertisement itself and similes of these phrases are used by competitors too. Being too common these statements are hardly noticed by the viewer.
Speaking Untruths To Sell?
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False Declarations And Disclaimers
The reliance on disclaimers to protect the ambiguous statements made in advertisements or totally false declarations concerning the merits of a product or service is on the rise, Especially so after new laws were introduced requiring the posting of disclaimers on advertisements.
The advertiser could ham up the description of the product to beyond the capacity of the product's function and yet create a disclaimer which could protect his action.
This phrase "Results Vary From Individual To Individual." is quite common and appears in most disclaimers associated with ads that promote "how to" e-books that are sold online.
The consumer is at fault if he has not read and understood the disclaimer. Quite apart from that, when it comes to e-books that are sold online there is a guarantee period during which time a refund in full could be obtained if the customer is not totally satisfied with the product or service he has ordered.
This is viewed as a kind of ethics which involves the seller. In this case the disclaimer does not serve any purpose at all and even the hamming up process in the ad could go full blast as long as the money back guarantee is displayed prominently.
Here the ethics of the consumer is also put to test. Buy the e-book, say you are dissatisfied with the info contained within and get your money back. Surprisingly according to an online retailer of e-books known as ClickBank, the refund rate of e-books containing the money back guarantee, is very low.
Advertising - Methods Of Drawing Attention
Laws Governing Unethical Advertising
Advertising Campaigns Involving Aggressive Advertising
The understanding is that the law is for the benefit of man. In a case like this, it is "that" man, the producer of that CD who deliberately put a deceptive picture on his product to induce a purchase.
He benefits since the loophole in the law is in his favor. Deception in advertising is on the rise, especially with technology supporting the creation of graphics, and pictures which can replace words, using clever psychology, giving impressions that create favorable conditions for the seller.
In this case it was only a picture that gave a false impression of the product it represented, clearly creating the much needed attention to that product and inducing a sale as well..
Have you experienced anything similar?
Have you ever purchased anything and discovered afterwards that the product is not exactly what the advertisement described?
Applicable Business Law
Most information products sold online have disclaimers that clearly state that the results expected from usage of the product may vary from individual to individual. The factors that have bearing on the results are also discussed.
This is often the case in work at home programs. The attention of the viewer is drawn to the disclaimer and more importantly to the money back guarantee. There is also a period of time within which the buyer is entitled to a refund with no questions asked.
The seller, knows for certain that the buyer will instantly ask for a refund if he is not satisfied with the product and so he ensures that he provides real value for the money that he charges.
When purchasing info products online, often the buyer goes through the ad thoroughly and the disclaimer as well, and takes comfort in the fact that there is a confident money back guarantee from the seller.
He strikes a balance between the exaggeration of the merits of the product in the ad and the corresponding disclaimer and more or less knows what to expect when he makes the purchase. That is the reason why ClickBank information products sold online have a minimal refund rate.
The Law And Advertisements
However in my case the product I purchased was a tangible one, purchased from a store. The conditions that governed drawing attention to the product could certainly not be termed ethical.
Even though I was the victim, I am more at fault than the seller, as I should have read the text on the sleeve and properly understood it before purchasing. The text clearly referred to all the tracks as "Faithful Renditions."
The fact here is the picture that appeared on the sleeve of the CD was the picture of the band that recorded the original versions of all the tracks that were listed on the sleeve.
This picture was the element that generates sales. I simply didn't read what could be called the "disclaimer." So the fault is mine. As often it is the victim who is at fault. That's the way the law works.
E-Commerce - More Article By The Same Author
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- The Rich Jerk And Internet Business
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- HubPages - Make Money Writing Articles
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- The Rip Off Report
The discussion here is about customer dissatisfaction, the causes of it, and the advertising techniques involved in having sold to such customers.
- Adressing Deceptive Selling Issues In The UK
It is all about the number of hits a website gets, and merely by indicating this number, referring to it as the potential of the website, is viewed as an attempt to deceive.
- Australasian Deceptive Selling Practices
This is a PDF document which examines issues involved in deceptive selling practices, with emphasis on many of the basic factors which contribute to selling goods and services by sheer deceptive tactics.
- Misleading Statements
The use of misleading statements in advertising, deliberately designed to confuse the consumer, leading him to purchase.
© 2008 quicksand