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Crazy Advertising Gimmicks

Updated on January 16, 2017
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy writes about family, home life, parenting, money-saving tips, and many other topics, as well as essays and occasional humor pieces

Are you buying the hype in ads?

Marketing professionals are experts at telling you what you want to hear. Or making you believe you heard something real.
Marketing professionals are experts at telling you what you want to hear. Or making you believe you heard something real.

Virgin vinyl? What the heck is THAT?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit tired of the trend of using euphemisms in advertising and marketing. I think I first noticed this when I started seeing made-up words for various products (or fake products), and the unbelievable efforts companies make to fool us into thinking something is the real thing, or as good as the real thing.

Years ago, my mother got a new coat. It was white, and rather nice looking, with a leather texture. But my dad immediately began teasing her about her ‘plastic coat,’ which of course didn’t make her very happy.

Finally, she took it off one day and indignantly said, “It’s not plastic!” She fumbled for the label, still talking, then stopped dead in her tracks, pausing a bit before she read it. “It’s genuine . . . Virgin Vinyl . . . ”

Of course, my dad laughed even harder, and the coat was immediately given a nickname. My mom would grab it on the way out the door and say she was wearing “Virgie” that day. Virgie was with us for years – and gave good service as a coat. But why couldn’t the manufacturer call a spade a shovel, and just leave well enough alone by labeling it ‘vinyl,’ rather than trying to make plastic sound more exotic than it really is.

Leather is one of the key targets for this type of marketing ploy – how many times have you seen something labeled ‘leatherette.’ There’s no leather in the product; it’s been given a texture treatment, and a gussied up name to make you think you bought something other than bumpy plastic. At least Virgie’s label had the word ‘vinyl’ in it.

"Faux" is a fancy way of saying "fake"

One common advertising gimmick is to label something with a deceptive name. Faux fur?  Really?
One common advertising gimmick is to label something with a deceptive name. Faux fur? Really?
Face creams can sound great, but may not be magic.
Face creams can sound great, but may not be magic.

An artificial rose by any other name is still plastic

To be sure, some manufactures get a little more honest and preface the euphemisms on their labels with the word ‘faux.’ But that’s actually a marketing strategy as well. Let’s get one thing straight, faux is an uppity word for fake.

So, if you bought a faux leather purse, you bought a plastic handbag. Hey, I’m not criticizing – I’ve bought plenty of plastic handbags in my day! Been there; done that!

Faux fur? No dead animals involved; it’s not fur, no matter how mink-like it might look. Actually, with the Animal Rights trend, manufacturers might make more money and more points with activists if they call it fake fur to begin with.

How about those ‘non-surgical facelift’ creams that used to be quite popular? Women slathered their faces with ointments that didn’t do much in the way of moisturizing, but they did crank up their skin temporarily.

The effect of feeling your face was more taut probably had influence than the actual results in terms of creating a market share. Women liked the idea of thinking they’d had the visual effect of a facelift without going under the knife, so they bought it, and bought the hype along with it.

Advertising and marketing are all about branding and image

There are numerous ways various businesses put a spin on words to make a silk purse out of pig ears. Does the restaurant offer ‘al fresco’ dining? You’ll be eating outside. Just wanted you to know that, in case you need a sweater.

Simulated anything means it’s fake. Simulated pearls – plastic covered in a pearly (or ‘pearlized’) coating. Simulated diamonds, rubies, whatever – they’re all ‘faux.’

Another marketing strategy is to mask the actual effect of something in an elaborately worded phrase. Facial creams ‘minimize the appearance of wrinkles.’ Notice the phrase does not say wrinkles actually go away? It says it reduces the way they look. I guess that means the cream fills in the cracks and gives you a smoother facial surface. Nothing wrong with that, but why don’t they get real to begin with and tell it like it is?

I’m not suggesting that anyone should stop buying facial cream, or plastic purses. I’m just pointing out that we live in a world of hype, and we actually fall for it. Using the right word helps manufacturers to sell things.

Think about it, are you more likely to buy a coat that’s ‘plastic,’ or one that has ‘faux leather’ embroidered on the label?

Maybe there ought to be a law. The next time you’re shopping for clothes, creams, accessories or anything else, check the semantics of the labeling to see if they’re trying to ‘faux’ you out.

This little Canadian Advertising Standards video says it all

What do you think?

Should manufacturers be required to use plain language rather than fancy marketing words?

See results

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Ha - LOL! Virgie appreciates your lovin'. Audra Leigh! I'm with you - my plastic purses are great, and I'm keeping them! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • profile image

    audra leigh 4 years ago

    I love this hub an virgie...lol! Great hub and idea! Voted up! ps...I am proud of my plastic purses too :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Ah - I get it better now. I'd probably have still pointed out to the store that the small print greatly overshadowed the photo and other false info used as a ploy. Interesting story, Quicksand.

  • quicksand profile image

    quicksand 4 years ago

    Well Marcy, the phrase said "faithful renditions" of popular hits by Herman's Hermits! This had them legally covered.

    My only gripe was that I was deprived of the chance of adding a CD of this band to my collection. The loss was only a mere six dollars and the fault was mine ... that's because I did not read the small print!

    Cheers! :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Quicksand - You are kidding! I hope you ignored the phrase 'discouraging' legal action and gave them a few things to think about? I've tackled such things and usually won - they know they're wrong, and they're afraid of further action or that their scams will become public.

    Thanks for sharing this experience - what a bummer!

  • quicksand profile image

    quicksand 4 years ago

    I once purchased a CD from a reputed music store. The sleeve contained the picture of a band that was a favorite of mine.

    The tracks listed too were some of their top hits. When I brought it home and spun it, I discovered that it was a different band.

    I recall there was a phrase in small print to discourage any legal action!

    Cheers. :)

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    You're probably right, Perspycacious - as long as they follow the law, it doesn't matter if people can't read (or even audibly understand) the rapid-fire statements.

  • Perspycacious profile image

    Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

    Yes. Speed readers with exceptional eyesight! It is a typical law passed by a Congress that gets rewarded for "fudging" the laws they pass. "Loopholes" is what those "in the know" call them!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I've often wondered about those drive-by statements, too, Perspycacious. Do they think we are all speed-readers?

  • Perspycacious profile image

    Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

    What gets me are the required footnotes that TV ads have to include in some cases, but which are so small, and go by so fast, that no one can read what they are required to post! What a joke, to think that those footnotes are for the purpose of protecting the public!!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Jaye - those courses would be fascinating to take! I admit, I'd enjoy learning the psychology behind them, even if I am cynical about the practices. I've sometimes gotten into watching commercials just to figure out their motives, too. At least it gives you the ability to see through them a bit!

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    This is a delightful hub, Marcy. These days the retailer would probably label your mom's coat "pleather", but--as we all know--"A rose by any other name...."

    It's ironic, but in college I majored in marketing (though I later "fell into" the field of human resources management and never climbed back out). I wanted to be the world's most clever ad copywriter, and read the biographies of all the great ones at that time.

    There was one advertising class where we watched tape after tape of TV commercials and analysed them to define what elements of an ad were more likely to create "product recall" in a consumer's mind. At that time, I actually enjoyed watching commercials more than I enjoyed watching TV programs. I regularly read the ad trade magazines and especially loved the ones that showcased annual ad award winners. I was really eager, wasn't I? It's embarrassing now to remember how badly I wanted to influence people to part with their money! Ha-ha....

    Another facet of that advertising class was learning about consumer psychology and how to use it to make people buy a product. I've thought of that many times when hearing an advertising spiel, reading print ad copy or even walking through a store. Consumer psychology is still hard at work to part you from your dollars.

    Voted UP, FUNNY and INTERESTING.

    Jaye

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, pmccray - I appreciate your comments. I'd forgotten about the Wonder Bra - good one! We could turn this into a series if we all put our heads together. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

    I love your title, excellent hub and subject matter. I too tire of the endless barage of lies on the one eyed monster. I now check out reviews online before ordering anything advertised. Wonder bras, all age creams and cosmetics are nothing but out and out falsehoods. I feel that the bodies that police these ads have let the consumer down. Voted up, marked useful and interesting.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I'm so sorry, drbj, for ruining your chances of ever again having a day of successful Retail Therapy. It's all true, though. I researched all my old science books. There are no more Fauxs left in the world; they're all extinct. So anything labeled Faux Fur is, indeed fake. We should all ask for a refund. (Vanishing money is spot on!).

    Thanks for your comments - I got a laugh out of them!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

    You've gone and done it, Marcy. With this literate hub, in one fell swoop, you have herewith dispelled some of my most favored beliefs. Faux leather does not come from an animal called faux? Virgin vinyl is just normal, every-day vinyl? The only thing that vanishing creams vanish is your money? My life will never again be the same. :(

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    LOL! Oh, that is funny, alocsin! Good one! Thanks for your comments!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    You are so right, Millionaire Tips, we fall for the social & fashion hype, too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Ardie! Oh, I have those plastic handbags, too - and shoes, etc! Your comment made me laugh!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, LaThing! You are right - we still fall for it!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, dmop! That was just a fleeting moment of fame! Looks like it's lower now, but I can always hope it will climb again! I'm glad you liked the hub!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh Jerrico - you are kidding - someone actually thought faux fur was from dead fauxs? I love it!

    You are right, by the way, many fruits are given that sheen to make them look more appetizing. All part of the picture. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh, yes - the automotive industry! Good point, tsmog! Just take a look at the history of car models in the last several decades. We went from boring stuff, such as the Model T (which doesn't say anything to the consumer), to increasingly sexier names that imply speed, wealth, etc. etc. LOL!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, homesteadbound! I think I used to fall for it a bit years ago, but once you start parsing words, it becomes so transparent. And then it's either funny or it can irritate you!

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    Sometimes calling a rose by some other name makes it smell sweeter. My favorite annoying marketing phrase are "pre-owned cars" and "semi-detached homes." Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

    Because so many people shop for image rather than just practicality, I think that the hype has to be presented. Having the right car is going to help you get the girl, and drinking the right beer makes you the life of the party. I've seen some clothing that looks like it was cheaply made and would fit on a bargain rack in a discount store, but it is advertised as trendy and hip, and people flock to buy it.

    Voted up.

  • Ardie profile image

    Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

    Hahah I laughed the whole way through this Hub. You make an awesome point in a very funny way. I must proudly admit I have purchased a plastic handbag once or twice before. And your mom's coat and dad's reaction to it? A hoot. But I did get the point of this article - advertising makes fake schtuff sound fancy to appeal to the consumers. Let's call a shovel a shovel. Enough with making dirt diggers into spades!

  • LaThing profile image

    LaThing 5 years ago from From a World Within, USA

    Great hub, lot of info. The funny thing is that most of us do know what is going on, but we still fall for it. I guess, we as consumers, are brainwashed with all that TV ads, billboards, Internet ..... you name it!

    Enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing......

  • dmop profile image

    dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

    Thank you for writing this, I enjoyed it, though you know that we writers are likely among the guiltiest of this tactic. Voted up and interesting. By the way congratulations on your 100 Hub score, that is awesome.

  • Jerrico Usher profile image

    Jerrico Usher 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    The reason they don't call it fake fur, or bs cream, is that the very reason they DO these things is to sell you stuff at the highest possible price-

    which is dependent on market perceived value...

    It's a dirty industry but nothing is going to stop it, slow it down, or change it. The best we can hope for is that we're intelligent enough to see past the "cover" and buy the book- after doing some actual research/due diligence.

    The reality is that most people are followers, they live by the words and perceptions others feed them- it's the lazy way to live but with so much going on most people are doing well just to stand up in the morning :)

    The hardest thing I have to do is shut my mouth when a commercial comes on, when I see an ad, a flier, anything- as I'm always trying to "school" those I see buying into this stuff, but it only serves to irritate them or get a heated verbal battle on whose right and whose wrong-

    Often ending in me just surrendering to whomever it is that their right, faux fur IS just a fancy name for or a type of fur from an animal (I really had that answer from someone!).

    The more I realize how the world is, the way advertisers are, the "real world" around me, the less I like what I see, the more I want to abandon television for torrents of those shows :), with no commercials, and live in the country, away from billboards, and if you think the advertisements that bombard us daily are bad, wait till you find out what you've been eating most of your life!

    Did you know schelac (spelling?)that stuff they use to give furniture a shine, is the same stuff they put on candy, apples, and any food with a nice beautiful glisten of shiny parts? Do you know where that comes from? Beetles, beetles secrete the stuff to stick to the leaves, we eat pounds of this a day, week, or month...

    and anything red in color comes from a scary place I won't infect your brain with- just knowing will make you hate red foods, candies, and anything else you consume...

    the more we evolve in technology the more humanity devolves...

    The true origin of our foods or food preservatives, "shine" makers and more are also advertised to fool us... when people started to realize what that Shelac stuff was actually called, they stopped putting it on the label replaced with the words "natural preservative" of which beetle secretions are...

    some "food" for thought.

  • tsmog profile image

    Tim Mitchell 5 years ago from Escondido, CA

    A fun read Marcy. Great food for thought. I have to admit I still haven't decided if organic bananas are real or not. :) Being in the automotie industry I have experienced much. Though I understand its use, something or other will give you better performance comes to mind.

  • homesteadbound profile image

    Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

    I'm wondering what non-virgin vinyl looks like... hmmmm

    Does that make it any less faux? LOL

    I really enjoyed this hub. I do not fall for the hype nearly as much as I used to, but I used to occasionally.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Mmargie! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  • Mmargie1966 profile image

    Mmargie1966 5 years ago from Gainesville, GA

    Love it, Marcy! So, so, so true! Thanks for the Hub!

    Voted up and useful!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Billy - I confess I'm guilty, too - an entire career of massaging the message! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Alright! Virgie had a sister! LOL - thanks for the comment, Rusticliving!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I not only have fallen for these techniques but I have used them myself. Great hub and great subject!

  • Rusticliving profile image

    Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

    Marcy.. so so true and so funny! I love the story of your mom's coat! I think my mom had the same coat! haha

    Great Job! Voted up and across!

    Lisa

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for your comments, gmwilliams; you make excellent points. And you're right - money is the motivator.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Good point, Capedium - I'm not sure how things would change. I guess I just prefer the real truth (even if it sounds strange to buy a plastic coat!).

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thank you, sholland - I'm glad you enjoyed the hub, and I'm happy I'm not the only one who feels this way!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Pamela - I'm so glad you liked the hub! I appreciate your comments.

  • gmwilliams profile image

    Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

    Marcy, this is an excellent hub. Advertisers are embellishing their product in order to make it more feasible regarding the selling ability to the public. That is the name of the game. However, consumers must read between the labels and the hype regarding the actual authenticity of the product.

    Advertisers are going to keep embellishing their product because the bottom line is the dollar. However, the consumer must become more savvy(which they are) and educated regarding what they purchase. If consumers research the product and decide not to buy the product then the advertisers would rethink their selling methodology.

  • Capedium profile image

    Capedium 5 years ago from Texas.

    I think I learnt a thing or two from here... And for the question, honestly I don't know.. Wouldn't change anything too much, would it?

  • sholland10 profile image

    Susan Holland 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

    I love this, Marcy! 1) It is true, and 2)I have fallen for many of those things at one time or another. LOL I begin to wonder if they make products and drugs to create dependency so the big manufacturers can make more money off our backs. Some things are quite benign, but other things can be quite harmful. A Great Hub! Votes and Shared!!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

    I agree with you fully. I like advertising to be upfront and honest also. Love the video.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Ha! I think you should write ad copy, Sunnie! It would use less ink by getting rid of the long, elaborate words, too! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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    Sunnie Day 5 years ago

    This was great Marcy..and so true..I loved the video...They should just say what they mean and call it a day..thats what I think...

    For sale 29.99 Plastic coat! lol

    Thanks for a great hub!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Anamika! I confess I do, too - even thought my entire career has been in wordsmithing! Oh well - maybe that cream really works after all . . .

  • Anamika S profile image

    Anamika S 5 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

    Having worked in Sales and Marketing for over 13 years, I know what you are talking about. To sell thing we use all kinds of sugar coats. Even though I am well aware of the truth behind the sugary talk of sales staff, I often get carried away and purchase such things too... Nice Hub, Voted up!

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