Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Deceit as a marketing tool

There is a term called "puffery". Ever heard of it? Maybe not. Have you seen examples of it? Oh yes, you most certainly have.

Puffery is a nice way of saying, "Okay, this product is making a claim that we really can't prove or disprove, so it really isn't against the law."

Heck, the US Federal Trade Commission even has definition for it: "a term frequently used to denote the exaggerations reasonably to be expected of a seller as to the degree of quality of his product, the truth or falsity of which cannot be precisely determined."

What are some examples of such a thing, you may ask. (Even if you don't ask, I'm going to show ya)

If there is actually a product that can do this, why are there so many wrinkly actors on TV?

It's the neon sign that really gives it credibility.

I'm glad it specified it as Planet Earth. I guess that's so we don't confuse it with Earth, South Dakota.

Ah, so they finally made their best pizza ever. I'll bet within a year we'll see they have a different pizza that is "new and improved." (By the way, which is it? New or Improved? How can it be both?)

These people have gone as far as to name their brand "World's Best". After all, millions of pounds of cat poop can't be wrong.

So what inspired me to write about this subject? I got a letter today that was addressed to me in normal handwriting. It was a smaller sized envelop--one that you would send to a friend. There wasn't a return address on it, which has me curious. I opened it up, and inside was a folded up newspaper page with the following sticking note:

"J? Who the heck is J?" I'll sometimes get stuff like this sent to me if it has a blurb about my book or about something I'm a fan of. I open it up and behold! (Granted my scanner isn't big enough for the whole page)

I don't usually call out people or companies by name, but I'm going to make an exception this time.

Shame on you Leith AutoPark Chrysler Jeep of Cary! It was obvious that you were trying to make me think that a friend sent me this incredible news--when in fact, it was all a marketing ploy. Was it illegal? No. Was it ethical? No. Would I want to buy a vehicle from someone trying to pull a fast one on me?



  1. Jason,

    That's the best post you've ever written! :)


  2. I loved your examples!

    I got an ad just like that one once - for weight loss. With a PostIt note. If anyone wants to jab me about my weight, they should do it to my face and not send a PostIt note in to do their dirty work for them. :)