Friday, 15 July 2011

Deception in Advertisements

Every day we watch several commercials on our television that inform us about a new product, give a recall of the already existing ones or entertain us because of their attractive concepts. But ever wondered why these concepts look interesting to us? Why so much money is spent on copywriters, marketers and advertising agencies? That is because they tap into the world of creativity and produce such concepts that not only show unrealistic traits of their products but also play with our emotions to a great extent.

Advertisements are usually built through either oversimplification or exaggeration techniques; that is they do not display the actual characteristic components of their products. And we all know that for a fact. But we still tend to fall for what the commercial is depicting. Take a look at a few examples that are deceptive to such an extent that they deviate from their true functions.

It is a universally accepted fact that tea is not really good for health. Research has proved and testified it. A very famous brand “Brooke Bond Supreme Tea” shows that tea is good for health through its latest advertisement and that our forefathers were superstitious when they used to say that it was not the case. The commercial had renowned celebrities as its endorsers who have a fan-following, thus letting the masses believe in what they wanted to show.

Now let us look at Veet, Anne French, EU cream, and Care hair removing cream commercials that always state that their product inhibits hair growth and prevents it from coming back. A great number of users have testified that this is not the case. In fact hair removing creams foster hair growth and it comes back even darker and harder.

Anti bacterial soap commercials have shown renowned actors as doctors who guarantee that the product counters skin problems and kills germs up to 99%. They have also started some CSR activities to promote their products so that people start considering the manufacturers as people of ethics and values when they even forget that the person guaranteeing the functionality of their products is not a professional himself.

Many print ads use such strategies of psychological pricing that our masses don’t even figure out. Let us see the print ads of Pizza Hut. They show a particular deal in the paper along with a mention of the price in big fonts and bolds. But the same figure has an asterisk attached with it which shows the hidden terms and conditions that apply at the time of purchase.

One of the popular mobile networks has also used deceptive techniques to market themselves. Zong has made this commercial where a consumer gets a load of PKR 100 and the shopkeeper tells him/her that he/she got an additional balance of PKR 100. The entire commercial talks about how one can get that credit and the same commercial ends with the message that the additional balance will be provided in the form of minutes.

Most TVCs show that the products they are offering to the market are needed by the customers. False needs are created and consumers are made to exceed the limits of their pockets to buy those goods. TVCs and ads make a person feel inferior by making them realize that they lack something somewhere. For instance fairness creams make a person believe that they lack complete beauty and confidence if their skin tone is darker.

There are a thousand more examples to quote if not millions that show such ridiculous associations of products with unrealistic traits. Most of us zip, zap or mute these advertisements but they do carry certain latent messages that impact us in some manner. Concrete steps should be taken to produce quality advertisements so that issues like women objectification, product influx, cut throat competition, male dominance etc. can be eliminated from our society because advertisements are one of the underlying reasons behind these.