The whole idea of an advertisement is to manipulate a person into desiring a product they previously did not care much about. Many consumer advertisements do not actually give real facts about the product, but rather aim at altering the lifestyle of the audience, by creating a new self image. Deceptive advertisement, as this form of advertising is called, is not a good trend and should be appropriately controlled by the relevant mechanisms.
Generally, the consumer holds the advertiser in high esteem and as such, expects nothing short of honesty in the message delivered. The belief that advertisements are rich sources of information is captured in results of several studies carried in the past. According to studies spanning from 1974 to 1989, the majority or 70% of the consumers trust advertisements (Coulter, Robin A. 2001).
If the confidence that the consumer has regarding a particular product is lost, regaining the same level of trust is next to impossible. Most of these advertisements use weasel words or practice what is referred to as puffery in order to draw customers. Examples of such advertisements are “Omo, the most powerful detergent” and “…help control acne”.
This practice is seen to be harmful and unethical towards the consumers, who consequently turn to defensive reactions towards any further advertisement. Deceptive advertisement is a direct contradiction of the first of the three moral principles of advertisement, which is the upholding of truthfulness at all instances. As Peter R. Darke and Robin J.B. Ritchie (2007) say, deceptive advertising triggers these self protective reactions through biased systematic processing and biased heuristic processing.
Generally, consumers perceive all the information emanating from the advertiser as whole some truth. However, if they do not get the desired results from the product, then the advertiser can be deemed to have failed the limit of moral behavior.
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