I love advertising. Hence I am here. And I love watching ads – be it the hilarious Vodafone commercial or the message-oriented Ariel’s “share the load” campaigns I love them all. I even watch old Indian commercials on various Youtube channels. Such is my love for advertising. But some advertisements really irk me. Not because they aren’t creative and appealing, but because they are untrue. They make tall claims that aren’t substantiated and mislead by implication and exaggeration - The provoking shampoo commercials that promise to turn your tresses to silken and strong, the creams that claim to whiten the skin, the diet supplements that commit to diminish your waistline or the worst of them all the ‘Health’ drinks for children.
It’s not just me who is angry at this trend of ‘over-exaggeration in advertising. Read this: The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) received complaints against 243 advertisements in November 2017; complaints against 182 ads were upheld. Suo Moto action was taken against 152 advertisements. In January 2018, it upheld complaints against 171 advertisements out of 247 for mainly "gross exaggeration of product efficacy"
From healthcare to food and beverages to personal care to even education, there have been instances where brands have made claims which have no research to back them and cannot provide supporting evidence to the so called ‘proven results’.
Advertising agencies, more often than not, look out for most appealing ways of communication to target audience and fetch results. Advertisements give visibility to products and are designed to create hype among consumers. But making tall claims, I believe, is taking undue advantage of the medium.
Exaggeration is a norm in advertising. While many make tall claims and over-exaggerate to the point that it is hard to digest. I’m glad there are brands that make exaggeration acceptable (and in some cases lovable). The Liril's famous 'girl under the waterfall' advertisement is an exaggeration, but it doesn’t hurt or make any false claims or mislead, similarly, Fevicol advertisements are adorable, they just portray ‘larger-than-life scenarios’, which although exaggerated, hit the right chord.
The difference here is that when brands make serious exaggeration like ‘this product will change your life’, it falls flat. You need to be realistic in your ‘enhancement’ of the product or service on offer. Brands should instead exaggerate on the human aspects of advertising and show the big picture.
Lastly, I would like to say that responsible brands create responsible customers. Umpteen laws and regulations will be created, but it is only when we follow the path of ‘self-regulation’ that we will be able to create advertisements that will not exploit the medium.