What exactly is puffery? To prevent legal troubles and expensive reputational damage to your brand, learn how to avoid puffery. As marketers, we are responsible for increasing brand awareness, demand, and authority. We want users to believe that we are the best in the business.
Some common methods for increasing brand awareness and authority include:
- Promoting positive brand perceptions.
- Describe how the product benefits the user.
- Differentiating yourself from the competition.
However, in today’s world, there is a widespread misconception that effective marketing necessitates puffery – or exaggerating claims to an extreme level in order to promote your brand. Puffery as a marketing strategy has the power to make or break your brand.
On the one hand, puffery aids in drawing in the audience and can help create a positive perception of a company. On the other hand, misleading advertising may harm the reputation of your company. Let’s take a closer look at puffery in advertising and how it can harm your brand in this post.
What Exactly Is Puffery?
While puffery is not a new concept in the world, the definition of the term has evolved over time. Puffery as a marketing strategy has the power to make or break your brand. On the one hand, puffery aids in drawing in the audience and can help create a positive perception of a company.
On the other hand, misleading advertising may harm the reputation of your company. Let’s take a closer look at puffery in advertising and how it can harm your brand in this post.
What Exactly Is Puffery?
While puffery is not a new concept in the world, the definition of the term has evolved over time. Using exaggeration and/or hyperbole to advertise a good or service is known as puffery in the modern world.
Whether you realize it or not, puffery is all around you. You may have heard the following examples of puffery advertising:
- The best product in the world.
- The best in the industry.
- It’s more flavorful.
- more appealing
- The preceding examples may appear tame to you.
Other inflated advertising makes statements that are occasionally totally implausible, such as that their beer is as cold as the Rockies. As icy as the Rockies? You read that correctly. That is precisely what Coors Light claimed in their advertisements.
Coors Light has successfully marketed its Rockies temperature comparison to imply that it is the most refreshing beer since departing from its previous “World’s Most Refreshing Beer” slogan. They’ve even trademarked the slogan so that competitors can’t use it.
Is it legal to advertise puffery?
This is a query that appears frequently on Google. Although puffery is thought of as legal advertising, it turns into illegal when it crosses the line into false advertising. The line between puffery and false advertising, however, can be blurry at times. We know this from real-life marketing examples that make false claims.
The primary distinction between puffery and false advertising is that puffery relies on subjective statements based on personal opinion. Facts underpin objective statements. False advertising occurs when an incorrect claim is based on fact.
The question is, who gets to decide what constitutes illegal advertising?
Advertising laws are governed by both the federal and state governments. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary agency in charge of overseeing and enforcing laws governing illegal advertising. In addition, the FTC:
- Advertising regulations are proposed.
- Ensures that all businesses are subject to the Truth in Advertising laws.
- Impose restrictions on a few delicate industries, like those that deal with alcohol, tobacco, and dietary supplements.
Individual states can set rules and take enforcement action at the state level, typically through the Attorney General’s office. False advertising and trademark infringement are both forbidden, according to the Lanham Act of 1946. Even though many businesses have complied with this law and still do, there are still violations and lawsuits filed today. Whether on purpose or not, your brand may be subject to severe legal repercussions if it makes an objective claim.
However, some brands have gone too far with their claims, even though puffery is still occasionally used in advertising. Consider 5-Hour Energy. The company claimed that its energy drink shots were “better than coffee” and that doctors recommended it. 5-Hour Energy’s creators were found guilty of violating the Consumer Protection Act and using misleading advertisements. As a result, the brand was penalized and fined $4.3 million.
L’Oreal’s brand image was also harmed by false advertising. Lancôme Génifique and Youth Code products, according to the company, prevent skin aging by “boosting genes” in users. Behind its claims, the company also used the phrase “clinically proven.” It wouldn’t be a problem, though, if L’Oreal could cite studies to support its claims. The lawsuit did come to the conclusion that L’Oreal did not carry out any scientific research to back up those product abilities.
The outcome? The FTC prohibited L’Oreal from making any anti-aging claims or from using the phrase “clinically proven” without offering concrete proof to back them up, even though no monetary penalties were imposed.
Why Is Puffery Harmful to Your Brand’s Image?
In light of the aforementioned illustrations, the following are the most obvious reasons why puffery is detrimental to your brand:
- Financial ramifications
- Reputational harm.
You may face costly lawsuits if your brand cannot support ludicrous claims. This could spell the end of your brand for any company, large or small. Puffery has the potential to seriously damage your brand’s reputation.
Customers’ trust has probably been broken if a product’s claims turn out to be untrue. Therefore, even though you might have made an initial sale to a customer using exaggerated claims, you risked hurting your long-term relationship with them. Negative word-of-mouth could cause you to lose future customers.
How to Avoid Puffs
There is a fine line between puffery and false advertising, and using puffery can have financial and reputational consequences. Let’s go over the dos and don’ts of false advertising for your brand.
Don’t omit any facts. If you make a product claim that is supported by facts, make sure to include them. This is a precautionary measure for your brand in the event of any legal issues.
Make no exaggerated claims. Many brands are guilty of this, whether unintentionally or on purpose. Make statements that are true to your brand and can be verified.
Make no bogus promises. This is the best way to drive away a client. Customers look to you as a brand to help them solve a problem. If you fail to deliver on that promise, you will lose loyal customers.
Be honest about pricing. Another way to lose customers is to be secretive about pricing. Inform users if you offer a trial in which they must opt-out.
Examine industry and government guidelines. Certain industries, such as supplements and alcohol, are heavily regulated. Always stay up to date on the latest industry laws and guidelines.
Make certain that the advertised products are available to users. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than seeing a product advertised but finding it unavailable. Maintain an accurate inventory to ensure a positive customer experience.
Although puffery is regarded as legal and occasionally effective, it can also result in the demise of your brand. Puffery involves both a financial and reputational risk, the latter of which can occasionally be even more harmful. Use the aforementioned examples to serve as a reminder of the dos and don’ts of advertising so that your future marketing plans will be puff-proof.