Advertising Strategy / Opinion

I’ve got an idea, let’s lie to our customers.


Three more adverts have been given a rap over the knuckles today by the ASA. Confused.com ‘misrepresented’ statistics. Lancome and Maybelline were found guilty of ‘excessive retouching’.

‘Misrepresented’. ‘Excessive retouching’. Stop, please beating around the bush.

The advertisers lied. Simple as that.

As a consumer, one thing I hate more than anything else is being lied to. The idea that a brand respects me so little that they’re willing to bend the truth or, in the case of Confused.com, Maybelline and Lancome, lie.

Excessive airbrushing is lying.

Misrepresenting statistics is lying.

Not bending the truth. Not trying to present themselves in the best light. Lying.

And it does all come back to the issue of respect – something I examined in an earlier post – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Consumers aren’t, on the whole, stupid. And perhaps they see through these little games that some brands and their creative agencies decide that they want to play.

So why do they keep on doing it? What possible benefit is there, aside from a short-term sales uplift, in treating the consumer like an imbecile?

Actually, the brands aren’t treating the consumer like imbeciles. They are trying to pull the wool over the consumer’s eyes, hoping that they won’t notice.

In my eyes, that’s worse.

It’s one thing to create a barefaced lie. It’s another to cloud a lie in a shred of truth and hope that you won’t get found out.

OK so you might think that I’m barking up the wrong tree here, and I’m not exactly the target market for the beauty products mentioned above. But it’s the principle of the thing that’s at stake.

Take the various TV spots for lash extension products that litter the airwaves. You won’t get results like those you see on TV. Why? Because the images are all enhanced in post-production.

And why do you enhance something? Because the original isn’t good enough. Simple as that.

Another classic, while I’m on a misrepresenting/lying rant, is an ad I spotted recently, encouraging you to buy mosquito nets. £3 will buy a mosquito net and save a child’s life.

All well and good.

But, if you read the small print (and there’s not a lot else to do when relieving oneself in a motorway service station), your £3 goes into a general pot that may, or may not, be used to buy a mosquito net. Or spent on admin. Or on something else that isn’t a mosquito net.

While the £3 statement is true, the ad is pretty misleading. Needless to say, my shiny coins will be staying in my pocket for the time being.

So, my plea is this.

Advertisers – have some respect for the people who buy your product. Respect them as intelligent human beings. Respect them as people who probably could handle the truth that they won’t look quite as good as Julia Roberts, no matter how much slap they apply.

Quit playing games. And quit lying.

Maybe, just maybe, the consumers will appreciate it.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “I’ve got an idea, let’s lie to our customers.

  1. Pingback: VOICES: I’ve got an idea, let’s lie to our customers | The Ad Buzz

  2. Pingback: Advertising Wednesday’s pick of the headlines (Daily Strategic Bulletin for 15 Feb 2012) «

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