Insincere advertising has been around as long as, well, advertising. In the 1920’s Listerine (the mouthwash) was declaring itself a cure all for conditions like the common cold, dandruff and hilariously, a good way to prevent cuts and bruises. Yes ma’am, a bit of Listerine on your skin will prevent you from cutting yourself when you chop vegetables!
It’s easy to laugh at the gullible folk who were taken in by this back then but companies haven’t really learned their lesson and honestly, neither have we. In 2009 Olay released an ad with the 60 year old former model Twiggy looking wrinkle free and positively radiant. It turns out that the images had been touched up (you don’t say). And wasn’t it just recently that mascara and hair product companies were forced to reveal (in microscopic print of course) that the models in their ads were wearing inserts or extensions*?
Hair product manufacturers are particularly bold in their claims. Tresemme had it’s advertising banned not too long ago by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for promoting it’s products with the claim ‘Giving you hair that’s ten times stronger after only one wash’. I don’t know about you but if I use a product that says it will make my hair 10 times stronger, I fully expect my hair to have the strength of steel wire! Surely I can’t be the only one?
With Tresemme, it turns out that their claim referred to making hair more resilient to combing and brushing rather than increasing the strength of the hair strands themselves. Well big whoop, all conditioning products do that.
Many beauty industry brands are still making downright crazy claims in their advertising and don’t even get me started on products that are aimed at African American women. This advertising will usually continue until someone calls them up on it with a class action suit. Even then, any settlements that the courts order them to pay still amount to much less than the profits they make from the product!
Usually it goes something like this:
‣ Product is launched amid much advertising hype and outrageous claims.
‣ Suppliers can barely keep up with demand as the product flies off the shelves.
‣ Class action suit is filed as consumers realize that the product simply doesn’t work as described and authorities step in to ban current advertising.
‣ The product remains on sale with new approved and toned down advertising.
‣ Company settles out of court for $65 million and consumer groups hail this as a victory for the public but this development is largely kept out of the news.
‣ Consumers still remember the original advertising and most have not heard or have forgotten that the product does not work as advertised so they continue buying it.
‣ Company makes $500 million profit in a few years. That $65 million settlement doesn’t seem quite so huge now does it?
Funnily enough, it was straight after seeing this Tresemme advert on TV that I first went online to find out if it would work for relaxed hair. During my Google search I found a popular black hair forum and discovered to my great astonishment that I didn’t have to navigate my way through life with weak neck length relaxed hair.