Thursday, April 26, 2007

Advertising Puffery...

"When you go on a date, you dress up and say nice lies so the other person likes you."
– anonymous 8-year-old boy (paraphrase)

In advertising, we’d call that Puffery. Puffery is exaggerating your selling claims to make your product or service look it’s best. For example saying "World’s Best Apples."

The FTC defines Puffery as "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." And the FTC says it’s acceptable and expected marketing behavior.

Calling your product safest or cheapest is not puffery. You have to substantiate those kinds of claims. But saying your product is "greatest," "best" or "tastiest" is all a matter of opinion. That is acceptable as "Puffery."

But just because Puffery is legal, doesn’t mean it’s effective.

Unlike in dating, most consumers are not easily lulled into believing every claim. In fact, a classic study showed that realistic product claims are more effective than extreme puffery (Journal of Marketing Research, 1987).

Sorry, I can’t cite any scholarly research about dating claims!

So, although, polishing your apples before putting them on display can be a good idea, you might want to stop short of claiming they’re the world’s best. It may be legit, but you might sell more if you call them "sweet and juicy" or "tart and crunchy".

Sometimes honesty is the best marketing.

- Phil Sasso

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