Essay on Deception in Advertisement


The activity of buying and selling in current market does not simply rely on word to mouth or mere dependence on quality for advertising but there is a high level of emphasis on advertising on media like television and other visual modes of advertising for a high level of impact. Mass communication for marketing goes hand in hand as the focus of this research is on advertising on a mass level. The organizations have to rely on mass media marketing campaigns in order to attract the highest amount of customers. This mode of communication used for advertising has been studied and utilized often globally.

Advertising appears in various forms like TV commercials, print media (magazines and newspapers), and web page banners. Advertising in general a collective attempt to influence the buying behavior of consumers, develop attitudes, and spread information about their products. Advertisements are generally made keeping a target audience in mind. Advertising is essentially instrumental to the process of sales in a management perspective and remains to be effective to reach a wide audience.
Advertising at a primitive level was just used as a method to inform the customer about the products by vendors or companies regarding new products or services and new offers related to them. The importance of advertising can be determined by observing the concept of advertising and how consumers experience it. This becomes the basis for the viewpoint and approach of the companies towards advertising in general. Understanding this is important for understanding the purpose of this research.
Advertising as defined by (Bovee, 1994) is
“The non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”
The use of advertising is also increasing day by day as it is evident that customers now witness advertising in some forms every single day from the morning newspaper to the late night TV show, watching a daily soap or a football match, customers come across advertising now more often than at any point of time in the past years. Customers are being bombarded with such an extent of advertisements that companies have started to get creative with their advertisements to grab people’s attention. (Nan & Faber, 2004) The excessive use of advertising can be seen in its many new and old forms from print media to social media advertising.
The level of impact on an economical and psychological level has been a point of focus and stands as one of the critical reasons why mass media advertising has become popular. This intensity of use regarding advertising presents a wide array of opportunity for companies who find creative ways to use advertising to attract customers. Taking the perspective of customers, this type of advertising benefits customers by informing them about the latest products and their features. Focusing on this perspective it is also crucial to observe negative impact of advertising which can occur if the customers are being deceived and the customers are not getting what they are promised.

Deception in Advertising

Deception in its general sense has two meanings. The first one is to lie to someone which is a verbal act while the second thing is to make someone hold a false belief. Deception in advertising is not new and has been adopted by many companies to sell their products. Deception in product advertising is a two-way street. (Attas, 1999) It is intentional in manner as the purpose is to deceive the consumer into believing a lie while the decision is made by the consumer regarding the final purchase.
In most cases, the factor of consumer reaction is not taken in consideration in a deceptive advertisement perspective. This is due to the factor of idiosyncrasies among people being a factor of providing choice among people. Deception has many forms like omission, misinterpretation, misleading projection, etc. can be deemed as dishonest or unethical when consumers who put their faith in the product and purchase it due to the advertisement and end up getting a lesser amount of value from a product which causes consumer dissatisfaction and opens up an area of concerned consumers with an insight on being deceived by deceptive advertisement. (Miluwi, 2011)
The important factor of consideration is the impact on the human psyche or more clearly, the consumer mind regarding deceptive advertisement and how they react towards it after knowing an advertisement is deceptive. (Jakštienė, Susnienė, & Narbutas, 2008) The impact on the ethical behavior and moral perspective of consumers is also a considerable factor.
When an organization acts ethically and supplies the consumer with correct facts regarding their products and consistent quality, a bond of loyalty forms between the customer and the company and this is also how a company cultivates customer retention. On the other hand, when a customer realizes after the use of a product or the utilization of service that the hype regarding the product was made-up and the product or service doesn’t deliver, the customer feels cheated and resents the company at a specific level and doesn’t remain loyal to the brand. (Jakštienė, Susnienė, & Narbutas, 2008)
Deception comes in many forms in advertisements. The common forms of deception in advertisements are false evaluation of products, incomplete comparisons, unconfirmed/unchecked claims and photographic misinterpretation of product data/results. Of course there are legal ramifications of deception in advertisements but many advertisements fly under the radar as consumers either do not realize that they have been deceived, or they shift to other products and services without reporting it. (Perzanowski, 2010)
Other real life examples of deceptive advertisements are highly present in beauty product commercials, fast food commercials, cleaning products with overly impressive figures of effective cleaning, health food products/medicines shown to have a superficial level of effectiveness and health food products which claim to have weight-loss properties. Consumers come across more than one such instance daily where they either use a product feeling that it wasn’t up to the mark which was set by the advertisement or that they see an advertisement and automatically categorize it mentally under “deceptive” and try not to purchase those products.

Research aims and objectives

The subject in focus emphasizes on the concept of deceptive advertisement but there are two sides of people involved in the process, those who make those advertisements and the consumers. This research takes into consideration the impact on the consumers regarding the deceptive advertisements. This impact can be categorized recorded on the basis of factors like: “did the consumer realize the advertisement was deceptive?” or “How did the consumer react after realizing that the advertisement was deceptive and did not deliver what it promised?” The answers to these questions will provide answers related to the consumer reaction to the mass media advertisements present in all mediums.
It is ethically and legally wrong that the companies make such deceptive advertisements through making superficial claims regarding the effectiveness of their products or hiding certain conditions which are important to know. Other form of deception that is observed in fast food industry is that in the advertisements, the quantity of food shown is different than the servings provided at the outlet of the fast food chain. The in-depth analysis of these factors is important considering the factor that the results will be significant to determine the nature of consumers about the deceptive advertisements and the extent of deception being practiced by the companies which can be observed in mass media.
The level of deception being projected by the companies in their advertisements will help determine the level of awareness and intelligence of the consumers and also that how much truth is actually out there in the advertisements. Analyzing the advertisements of various types will provide data regarding the various levels and types of deception that are present in the current marketing scenario. This will help the research with sufficient data regarding all the types of deception tricks that the companies are adopting in their advertising campaigns. This specific branch of research will gather data about different advertisements to observe how companies exaggerate the effectiveness of the products in order to market them. This in crucial in order to determine the level of truth found in the advertisements.
There is also an area of focus in the research which is critical for knowing the state of the consumers. This aspect will take into account the level of perception of the customers about the deceptive advertisements in general. The rigorous study of the advertising tactics of the companies and advertisement campaigns will provide the research with data and the primary research of the consumers will provide us the clear idea about the level of perception of the consumers through an elaborate survey. The level of perception of the customers will help determine the tolerance level of people regarding the degraded quality of products that the customers get in comparison with the ones displayed in the advertisement. On a collective level, this research will provide us with data from two viewpoints: one of the companies about the consumers and other about the consumers regarding the perception of the advertisements.


Posted on

March 7, 2018

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