What Are False Advertising Campaigns? #5 Ways To Spot Them

In this article guide, I’ll discuss how to spot false advertising campaigns in the simplest ways possible. So, stick with me till the end to learn more. Have you ever experienced that moment of remorse after purchasing a product that didn’t live up to the hype? Or maybe you’ve been tricked by a “bait and switch” scheme, where you thought you were getting a great deal.

But rather, it turned out to be a low-quality knock-off. Well, you’re not alone! Many have been victims of false advertising at one point or another. False advertising campaigns are marketing techniques designed to trick consumers by using false, misleading, or unproven information to sell a product or service. Often, these campaigns are so cleverly disguised.

Such that we don’t even realize we’re being duped! Unfortunately, false advertising is rampant in today’s society, especially with the advent of social media. As well as online marketing, where companies can reach millions of people with just a few clicks. They’ll even go a step further to make false claims about their various products — without any notable repercussions.

To keep away from these, let’s take a look at some forms of false advertising campaigns that you may come across. Always remember, that it doesn’t pay to deceive the public. Bear in mind, that when it comes to content advertising, there’s a big difference worth noting. More so, in regards to those pushing the truth and those making false claims.

What False Advertising Campaigns Are All About

By definition, False Advertising Campaigns (misleading advertisements) are a serious detriment to consumers and, therefore, to one of the groups of interest of the advertising agencies and the advertiser with whom it is related. For instance, in the case of advertising for health products, where audiences are more vulnerable, this fact is more reprehensible.

Realistically, advertisers are aware that today’s brands, and therefore companies, have to combine their sales objectives with a strategic vision of the organization. More so, based on ethics, transparency, and CSR. Nowadays, advertising has a twofold function: its role as a commercial activity and, on the other hand, it has social dimension.

Particularly, by directly influencing contemporary ways of life. Of course, advertising represents one of the most regulated activities in many countries. But, from a social point of view, its management is more complicated and the consumer is not always protected. In short, misleading advertising can pose a risk to both entity citizens and target consumers.

Therefore, it is subject to different laws and regulations that ensure a truthful and ethical message. However, the fact that the message depends on both the advertiser and different professionals within the advertising agency, can lead to a situation where control of the rules is lost. As of today, there are a variety of common forms of misleading advertisements to note.

Some forms of misleading advertisements include:
  • Bait And Switch: This aims to lure customers with a low price or a great deal and switch them to a more expensive product once they’re in the store.
  • Testimonials: Fake testimonials are statements from made-up customers or paid celebrities to endorse a product or service, even if they’ve never actually used it.
  • Misleading Claims: These ads make false claims about their product, such as saying it’s “all-natural” or “clinically proven” when it’s not.
  • Phony Contests: This is when a company runs a contest that’s impossible to win or requires you to purchase their product to enter the game.
  • Hidden Fees: Customers believe they’re getting a better deal, but the business doesn’t disclose all the costs associated with their product or service. 

For such reasons, it has been considered of great interest to learn the opinion of advertising professionals regarding this situation. Perse, in order to explore whether they feel responsible and how this is managed. Arguably, for its part, the radio has a large audience, with an intimate and personal tone, which justifies the interest in its study. Something we can all relate to.

The results will allow us to reflect on the responsibility of all the agents involved. As an example, the European regulations on misleading advertising are in Directive 2006/114/EC, on misleading and comparative advertising. In the likes of Spain, misleading advertising is considered an act of unfair competition. Specifically, as set out in article 5 of the text of Organic Law 3/1991.

Misleading Advertising — Disloyal And Illicit

In Article 2 of the Directive, misleading advertising is considered to be “any advertising that, in any way, including its presentation, misleads or may mislead the people it addresses. Or rather, it affects and that, due to its misleading nature, may affect their economic behavior or, for these reasons, harms or is capable of harming a competitor “.

Therefore, misleading advertising is essentially characterized by inducing error or deception in the possible acceptor of a contract, in such a way that the good contractual faith principle is violated, which must prevail in every legal relationship.

Despite this, in advanced societies organized around the logic of mass consumption, advertisers sometimes use unfair techniques. Geared towards increasing or maintaining or increasing their market share and other business values. Therefore, in all developed countries this type of advertising is considered a crime worth standing on the bench for.

Suffice it to say, this form of advertising disloyalty affects fair play and hurts competitors and the economy of the customer. And now that we know some forms of false advertising claims let’s move on and learn how to spot them.

Ways To Easily Spot False Advertising Campaigns

So far, research on unfair or false advertising campaigns has been carried out from different approaches. Most research is accomplished from the perspective of legal regulations and codes of conduct, based on precepts of the likes of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Some studies reflect on the persuasive effects of consumer deception.

Deception comes in many forms, from outright lies to the amount and sufficiency of information, and the degree of truthfulness, clarity, relevance, and intent. A study by Ukaegbu reveals that some people do not find it easy to identify whether an advert is misleading. Consumers should be aware that their buying behavior may be the result of deception by advertising methods.

They must know how companies present and advertise their products or services to avoid deception. Education constitutes a determining variable of the level of influence of this type of advertising. And now, with that in mind, below are five simple ways to spot a false advertising campaign. Some that will be of great use — as you move around the internet.

1. Look for exaggerated consumer claims

When evaluating an advertisement, it’s important to be realistic. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For example, a weight loss supplement that promises you’ll lose 20 pounds in a month will likely not deliver.

Or, a skincare product that claims to make you look 20 years younger will probably not live up to that claim either. In general, being skeptical of any advertisement that makes grandiose claims is a good rule of thumb. 

2. Check for testimonials and reviews

One way to spot a false advertising campaign is to check for reviews online. For instance, a properly advertised restaurant should have plenty of reviews on social media platforms. But if there are no reviews, that’s a red flag. However, be careful with fake reviews. Some companies may pay people to write positive reviews to make their business look popular and trustworthy.

You can spot fake reviews by looking at patterns like same-day posted reviews. Additionally, deceitful companies use testimonials from celebrities or unqualified individuals. If an acne cream is endorsed by a  celebrity who doesn’t have acne,  it’s likely that they were paid to say positive things about the product and may not have used it themselves.

3. Inspect the fine print statements

When you’re looking at an advertisement, be sure to check the fine print for any disclaimers or qualifications. There are times when companies make bold claims in their ads but then include a disclaimer in the fine print that invalidates those claims.

Such as a claim that their car wax will make your car look “like new,” but then in the fine print, they say, “for best results, use on a car that is no more than three years old.” Or, a garment ad claims to be “ wrinkle-free,” but the fine print says “requires ironing after washing.” So, read the entire advertisement – not just the headline – before making any purchasing decisions. 

4. Be wary of time-sensitive (quick) offers

Some false advertising campaigns will pressure you into buying a product by offering a time-sensitive discount or deal. They’ll tell you that the offer is only good for a limited time or while supplies last to get you to purchase before you can think about it. You might see an ad that says, “50% off all shoes, today only!” Or,   “Buy one, get one free – but only for the next 24 hours!”

If you see an offer like this,  take a step back and ask yourself if the deal is as good as it seems or if you’re being pressured into buying something you don’t want or need.

5. Research more on the credibility of marketers

Lastly, it’s also essential to consider the source when looking at advertisements. Is this a credible company that you’ve heard of before? Do they have a good reputation? Find information about a company’s reputation through a quick Google search.  If there are a lot of negative reviews or articles about the company, then that’s a sign that it might not be reputable.

On the other hand, if you can’t find much information about the company at all, that’s also something to be aware of. Fly-by-night companies will create false advertising campaigns to make a quick buck. But after they’ve made their money, they disappear, and you never hear from them again.

How To Avoid A False Advertising Campaigns Strategy

Eventually, the arrival of the internet and new technologies poses a challenge for misleading advertising. The most recent studies show the use of these recommendation techniques as illicit or misleading advertising. And, as a result, this is something that requires a legal regulatory framework. As well as awareness of the self-regulatory bodies and the networks themselves.

Specifically, in order to fill these gaps and guarantee the quality of communication between brands and the public. Firstly, the most common demands of clients are enquired through an open answer. We can observe that almost half of the respondents refer to budget-related requirements (41.17%). Secondly, there’s the fulfillment of the briefing requirements (20.58%) too.

In addition, there are also the timelines that are needful as we carry out the advertising campaigns (17.64%) stand out. Last but not least, it’s also good that we are clear on highlighting the logo of the brand that we are advertising. But, there are also some other key questions that we can pose to marketing experts as well as advertising professionals prior to any ad campaigns.

Such key questions to pose alongside include:
  1. Which responsibilities will advertising professionals want to assume?
  2. What will these marketing experts assume in the advertising process?
  3. Do these professionals have sufficient knowledge about consumer laws and liability?
  4. How does it influence the creative process and the use of rhetorical resources?
  5. What media will professionals consider the most prone to misleading advertising?

In nutshell, the advertising sector is one of the most regulated, but due to its social impact, self-regulation has acquired a fundamental role. Self-regulation has become an indispensable way to defend consumer rights. Not to mention, associations such as Autocontrol in Spain seek to ensure responsible advertising: loyal, truthful, honest, and legal.

In the answer to the question about the meaning of “being responsible” in advertising campaigns, it follows this way: First, being responsible means respecting the values that prevail in society. Secondly, it has to do with compliance with all legal requirements. Otherwise, we believe that responsibility implies “thinking about the consumer” first, at all times.

Meanwhile, consumer associations warn of misleading and disloyal messages in relation to the nature and ownership of goods or services, their availability, and after-sales services. Despite this, different sectors are identified -some with a serious effect on health- where the practice of this type of advertising is a reality today.

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By all means, all advertising professionals for advertising companies and agencies should work cooperatively. More so, in order to build successful campaigns that position brands in the minds of consumers. However, these professionals may have different views on the same issues — due to the different perspectives from which they work. But, there’s more work to be done!

As marketers, it’s interesting to find out what these opinions are. As well as knowing the perception of responsibilities in the process of preparing a campaign — depending on the side from which it is viewed. Basically, we can even try the division of questions into two main issues. So that we can arrive at the best decision-making stage in any advertisement plans.

Consider the following:
  • One: The overall experience and professional practice in terms of customer relations.
  • Two: The lead professional’s opinion on the practice of advertising related to the likes of health and the media.

One thing is for sure, looking at the ad campaigns — from a creative point of view — there’s a clear division between advertising professionals. Keep in mind, that according to recent surveys, 47.1% of those in the survey state that the creative person in charge of a campaign is the agency. While, at the same time, 50% think that both the agency and the advertiser are responsible.

False Advertising Campaigns: An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is ijerph-18-06912-g001.jpg

In terms of Figure 1 above, regarding the legal responsibility in relation to a campaign, 50% of advertising professionals consider that both the client and the agency are responsible. While 13.2% of them consider that it only belongs to the advertising agency. And, only 36.8% attribute the legal responsibility to the advertiser.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is ijerph-18-06912-g002.jpg

Let’s also consider Figure 2 above. As a result of the above, 83.3% of those surveyed assure that advertising should always be responsible. On the other hand, 11.8% consider that it should be, but it is not always necessary. So, regarding advertising legislation, it’s necessary to have knowledge of legislation on the part of the advertiser, the media, and the advertising agency.

Learn More: Advertising Tactics Outlook | #10 Topmost Best Novice Methods

Overall, to avoid false advertising campaigns, responsibility implies “thinking about the consumer” first, at all times… It takes into account even external (environmental) factors. In addition, among the open responses, a call is made to always “stay away from misleading advertising,” where needed. It’s all about being honest, not lying, and not sending offensive messages.

Forthwith, regarding the level of demand of advertisers, 72.1% describe their clients as very demanding. On the other hand, 23.5% consider that only some of the clients are, but not the majority. Lastly, 4.4% do not consider the clients they work for demanding. As such, we can code the variables on a scale from 0 to 2 in terms of the level of demand.

Whereby, the mean of such variables — on a scale from 0 to 2 on a level demand basis — is set at 1.68 with a median and mode of 2. On the contrary, only 8.8% of them assure that these types of demands are not a determining factor in the creative process. And, almost 60% of them indicate that it is more difficult to work on a creative campaign that has many conditions.

While only 32.4% indicate that it is somehow complicated — though they do not consider that it conditions their creativity excessively. Likewise, you can also start coding from 0 to 3 in terms of the level of demand. Whereby, as a result, together with its conditioning of creativity, it allows us to establish a mean of 2.29 with a mode of 2 and a median of 3.

Takeaway Thoughts:

As you can see, the main objective of this guide is to understand the perception and opinion that advertising communication professionals have about misleading advertising and their liability in relation to it. Specifically, the work focuses on misleading advertising in relation to the likes of health-related products in the radio medium. The work is structurally state-of-the-art.

Precisely, after having raised a brief introduction on the relevance of the topic and the objectives. Then, the methodology for presenting the relevant results is explained. The last part collects the conclusions and the discussion separately. On that note, by answering some of the key questions above, we’ll be able to note if the likes of radio are one of the misleading channels.

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Whatever the reason is, always trust your gut! At the end of the day, you should always trust your gut instinct. If something about an ad doesn’t feel right, or if you have a bad feeling about a company, it’s probably best to steer clear. Remember, there’re a lot of scams out there, and it’s not worth risking your hard-earned money on something that will not deliver.

Simply put, if you have doubts about an advertisement, it’s always best to err on caution. But, if you’ll need more help, you can always Contact Us and let us know how we can come in handy. You are also welcome to share your additional thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, or even contribution questions (for FAQ Answers) in our comments section below.

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