If you ask Brits whether they trust advertising claims made on TV, online or in newspapers, would you expect them to give ads the thumbs up? Well, a recent survey found that over two thirds of us trust them. Why?
Are they wise or bonkers?
Two thirds of respondents agreed that advertising has a social value, such as raising the profile of issues like drink-driving, healthy eating or even mis-sold PPI. That’s fair enough, but this isn’t the type of advertising we should be wary of.
Misleading ads are everywhere
What about broadband providers’ “unlimited” declarations, misleading anti-wrinkle cream ads, or a chocolate spread’s healthy breakfast claims? There are a whole host of ads which put forward misleading statements that too many of us are duped by.
I’m still embarrassed to admit that I was somewhat won over by Nutella’s healthy claims, even though each tub contains a whole bunch of sugar. Still, I wasn’t the only one, commenter Sandie & Gray admitted to falling for it too:
‘I am one of the goodness knows how many who believed that Nutella was diet friendly due to its wholesome contents.’
I’m sure we’ve both learned our lesson. Thankfully, ComRes’s poll also found that just 49% of respondents thought favourably of the advertising industry, which suggests that there’s still some unrest with advertiser’s tactics.
Anti-wrinkle creams debunked
At Which? we’ve put anti-wrinkle eye creams through our thorough lab tests. None of them came close to eliminating the appearance of wrinkles, so any ads that claim otherwise are probably talking out of their behind.
Plus, when we asked whether you’ve ever been misled by beauty ads, only one solitary vote said that they hadn’t felt tricked and were ‘happy with what they had bought’.
The rest of the votes were split between those who had regretted buying certain products and those who were wise enough not to buy stuff based on ads. Commenter JR put it well, ‘Some of the small print in adverts these days are verging on something from a comedy spoof show’.
Trussst in me
So why do so many of us trust adverts? Sam’s reply to my Conversation on video game advertising – something I feel can be very misleading when mocked up computer-generated graphics are played instead of actual gameplay footage – sums up why we shouldn’t:
‘I don’t think it’s unique to [the gaming] industry. Endless “health” products and hair things use fake science in their ads, and stupid buzzphrases like “wrinkles appear reduced” and “most women say” which only exist to manipulate.
‘Advertising is not a business I associate with morals, so although I hope that practices like this will end, I know they won’t.’
I’m not sure we’ll ever see the back of misleading adverts either, so keep your beady eyes on them and take everything you watch with a hefty pinch of salt.