Quite often those nasty jokes about lawyers come dangerously close to the jokes about advertisers. It seems that we're all in the same rocky boat, bending the truth to our own version of events, raking in the money, and caring less about people than the bad guys in Bond movies.
Now, there is no smoke without fire, and there are clearly many rotten apples that have ruined both professions, in the eyes of the general public anyway. Lawyers are slimy liars who will do anything to win a case. Advertisers are slick liars who will say anything to get a sale.
However, this is just not true. The "truths" about us are lies 99% of the time.
Does advertising exaggerate the benefit? Absolutely. Does advertising stretch (sometimes to breaking point) the hard truth? Yes, it does.
Does advertising lie? Generally speaking, no it doesn't. Obviously it's impossible to weed out every shady advertiser and bait 'n' switch retailer, but overall the profession is not in the business of telling lies. And the reason is simple…it will be the death of your business, especially with the power of social media. But the truth will set you free.
Lies Will Bite You. Hard.
Yes, you will see bad ads from worse agencies, and they will outright lie or aim to mislead in the most tricky ways possible. Some places walk a fine line between legal and illegal, using every loophole in the law to avoid prosecution.
These are the ads that feature copywriting atrocities like:
"Compare at $100!" - That does not mean the product is worth $100, it means that you should compare the product you're about to buy with one that costs $100. That's often like comparing a Cubic Zirconia ring with a diamond ring. Yes, they're almost the same, but come on. Similarly, that $59 generic tablet I not one that can be honestly compared to an iPad, but these lies often exist
"Call in the next 10 minutes…" - And what happens? You get free shipping? You get your order doubles at no extra charge? You get a free pony? It doesn't matter, the time is irrelevant. You get those deals no matter what, this is simply a way to get people racing to the phone. But they don't say "if you don't call in the next ten minutes you won't get it." It's blatant deception to make you think your quick response gets you something other, lazier people won't get.
"Pay NOTHING For Covered Services." Oooh, more tricky language. That phrase means nothing. Nothing at all. But it sounds like it means everything. It's like saying "pay nothing to breathe the air in your back yard." Well, duh. If a service is covered, it's paid for. See.
So, those are the kinds of "lies" that advertisers will tell. They are not breaking any laws, they are just messing with language. But out and out lies, they are disproven quickly and will result in some very bad karma for the brand. Imagine if brands said things like:
"Guaranteed to make you 25 IQ points higher."
"Our bacon cheeseburgers are 100% fat and calorie free."
"We'll be there in 29 seconds or less, every time."
That just leaves advertisers wide open for lawsuits and dismayed customers. Anything that blatantly false will be discovered, and through word of mouth the brand will be ripped apart.
Advertising does bend the truth, but usually it's so exaggerated that no one ever believes it to be anything other than entertainment to raise attention. From talking crocodiles to cars driving on the ceiling, it's simply razzle dazzle to get you to customers to pay attention.