Advertising Deceit: Manipulation of Information, False Advertising, and Promotion

Advertising Deceit: Manipulation of Information, False Advertising, and Promotion

Philippe W. Zgheib (Lebanese American University, Lebanon)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1793-1.ch068
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Deceptive advertising denotes a producer's usage of mystifying, deceiving, or blatantly untrue statements when endorsing a product. There are several illegal methods for attempting to deceive consumers. This can be done through concealed fees or the usage of surcharges. Deceptive advertising can also take place when “going out of business sales” charge consumers more for products that had already been marked down. Advertising law identifies the manipulation of standards as dishonesty under customer law. Undefined terminology is also considered a violation under consumer law. Marketing deceit is a practice that can equate to a crime. Thus, a marketer should not get involved in deceiving their potential customers for this manipulation would lead to various harms: it erodes one's self-confidence and hinders the development of responsible advertising. Big companies make big mistakes, this is to say that trust associated with big companies holds severe uncertainties. This chapter explores advertising deceit.
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Current Research

Deceptive advertising can take on many forms. An example of that is visual puffery. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines visual puffery as “term frequently used to denote the 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,” (Fetscherin and Toncar, 2009). A study authored by Marc Fetscherin and Mark Toncar and published in 2009 sought to investigate the presence and effects of puffery in advertisements about women’s fragrances. The final results of the research showed that “… visual puffery does exist, and can generate expectations that in many cases exceed actual product evaluations” (Fetscherin and Toncar, 2009). Other studies have shown that the mental state of consumers has a severe effect on their susceptibility to false advertising. In fact, one study conducted by Kathryn and Michael LaTour reveals that consumers who are in a good mood are more likely to identify false advertisement. What’s really surprising, however, is that these people are also more likely to develop positive feelings towards the brand that’s being falsely advertised (LaTour and LaTour, 2009).

After having established that consumers’ moods affect their susceptibility to false advertising, marketing and behavioral researchers began exploring the neural processes that take place when consumers are exposed to deceptive ads. Along those lines, Craig et al (2012) collected neuroimaging data of participants while they were exposed to three types of advertising: believable advertisements, moderately deceptive advertisements, and highly deceptive advertisements (Craig et al, 2012). The results showed that there is greater brain activity associated with viewing advertisements that were moderately deceptive than there was activity when the consumers were subjected to ads that were either believable or highly deceptive. These findings suggest that consumers are more attentive to ads that are moderately deceptive and are thus more inclined to believe them. (Craig et al, 2012).

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