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29th Jul 2011, 9:05 PM
29th Jul 2011, 11:47 PM
This is an interesting question. UK recently banned some images of a makeup product being hawked by Julia Roberts, because the makeup ads were retouched using airbrush, and weren't accurate depiction of the results of using the makeup.
I think that adds should reasonably reflect the product that is being sold. IF you are selling an age-reducing cover up makeup, and then airbrush your model, that is disengenuous. If you show a trailer of a game, with events and images that cannot be reasonably expected to occur in a normal game, then I think it is false advertising.
I'm of the opinion, if an item is good, then it will sell based on its own merits. Not based on trick photography and false advertising.
I was recently victimized by this type of advert. I bought a lipstick based on a magazine add. The color was great, and I wanted lipstick that shade. But after I bought it, the lipstick wasn't that color. It was a clear beige. When I Went back to the add, a very tiny blurb in fine print, said the model was wearing a special lip liner in addition to the advertised color. Well, I was kind of mad. The color was based on the pencil, not the lipstick. The lipstick alone could never be that color, because it was clear, not tan. To me, they mislead the consumer, and should be honest about the pencil being the source of the color.
Now, granted, if I were a makeup artist, or had read the eensy teensy print, I might know this. But, I think it is reasonable to expect that when you purchase a lipstick, that it should resemble the color worn by the model. Otherwise, they should've advertised the pencil instead.
29th Jul 2011, 11:55 PM
People complain because EA manipulates their trailers (ie the LN trailer where every band looked like it had a singer but there was not singers in LN) but I don't consider that false advertising because it never said that it had singers, there were no microphones shown and no sim was actually singing. All the stuff they showed could be done in the game.
I agree about makeup and similar products, if you retouch the photo then you're really not being truthful.
30th Jul 2011, 12:09 AM
I'm kind of on the fence on this. On the one hand, yes, the advertising should reflect the actual product - though I have no problem with games using concept art instead of in-game pictures, as long as it's fairly clear that's what it is, for example with something like Tropico 3 (http://www.playnewera.com/upload/game/0909/2009-09-03-19-26-05-24012.jpg) or ACII (http://www.wallpaperez.org/wallpaper/games/Assassins-Creed-2-backgrounds-2008.jpg). However, on the other hand, advertising is always going to be misleading, because no product can ever make you perfectly happy, or incredibly wealthy, or turn you into a completely boring-looking woman (don't ask me why the latter seems to be such a popular ideal). It's common sense to double-check, and to try before you buy, wherever possible - read reviews, do your research etc. So, I guess I don't have total sympathy for people who are misled by advertising, except in cases of blatant falsehood, or in cases where there's no way to check that you're getting what you think you are.
30th Jul 2011, 12:18 AM
I think it's all about having a healthy level of scepticism about you. You've gotta read into things, do your background research etc. before making any decisions - especially if it'd be a large purchase.
I personally hate those spot/pimple/acne ads where the model is clearly not without some sort of cover or makeup, or where they've put a fake spot on. I even think that using attractive people is in it's own way misleading, because most people take the appearance of a person as a whole. So having big beautiful eyes or a perfect nose may contribute to the appearance of the person, leading the buyer to believe that the models skin does look better for the product. The model in the ad probably hasn't even used the product because their skin is fine anyway. So it's false advertising in that sense, but it's fair game to those gullible enough to buy the product after only watching the ad.
30th Jul 2011, 2:09 AM
I am a skeptical consumer and I am that way because I'm aware of blatantly misleading tricks within marketing but I feel that the consumer should not have to be skeptical. Marketers keep getting away with this and I think it needs to stop. I applauded the decision to ban the ads that were so clearly photoshopped because I do think the responsibility of the marketer is to truthfully advertise the product. It shouldn't have to be responsibility of the consumer to not be tricked and it's really long overdue for that mindset to change.
Sociological Images had a fairly amusing example up a few days ago: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/26/advertised-objects-may-be-smaller-than-they-appear/
Now, if I were out shopping for an item like that and saw that picture, I would buy it expecting that it would be large enough for more than one kid to play on. That's blatantly false advertising and I, the potential consumer of this product, shouldn't have to spend hours researching this item. The picture shown on the box should be accurate.
30th Jul 2011, 3:21 AM
If the product is good... It should be able to withstand real scrutiny. I don't think we really need more snake oil fake products which do not accurately represent what is being sold.
Advertisers who falsely recommend bogus products harm our most vulnerable populations, young, elderly and those who can ill afford to lose their money. It is time that we as customers no longer put up with such things and hold companies accountable. I applaud the Brits for putting their foot down, and hope more countries do the same.
30th Jul 2011, 7:38 AM
All advertising is false to some degree, some worse than others. In this day and age I would not believe any photo since pretty much anything can be photoshopped. I do think beauty products in general are some of the worst offenders. They make false promises and use misleading photo's to convince you they have the fountain of youth in a bottle. Well if your gullible enough to really believe it then you probable deserve to be fleeced. My worst offenders are the mascara ads where the models are obviously wearing lash extensions but your supposed to believe it's just their fabulous new mascara and its specially designed applicator.
30th Jul 2011, 7:54 AM
In another scenario, you are a hardcore gamer and ardent lover of The Sims series. You see in the trailer that Sims can walk on runways and make different poses, but when you purchase the game, you cannot find the runway object or know how to make your Sims walk on a runway-like thing. Would you consider this fair game or false advertising?
To speak to this in particular, some might argue that the special poses or apparent interactions (like the runway) might be EA engaging in creative storytelling the way many fans in do. I would not, because those images are put forward to generate interesting in a certain product, and as such are advertising for it, and presenting possibilities that do not exist is akin to showing a kid riding a bike on water. (Actually that's a bad example because real-world physics come into play where they would not in-game, and there's no physical reason for there to not be runways, but anyway).
The thing I find interesting is that EA did not always feel the need to get creative with their promotional content. At this point it's sort of hard to track down copious preview images from TS1 days, but the ones you see have no storytelling component at all, at least not in the "creatively posed, use your imagination" sense. They're all just simple screenshots from the game, and the only apparent manipulation in some of them is that they try to capture as many unique gameplay options (that are actually available) in one shot. Somewhere along the way they started fudging their screenshots-- e.g. that Free Time screenshot that seemed like a scene from a toddler daycare, or the aforementioned LN "singers."
It's a noticeable shift in marketing. This isn't the thread to speculate on why they started it doing it that way, but it's easy to see the difference between "all these images were just screenshots" and "many of these images were crafted to mislead." It's easy to see the difference between a Superstar image of models on the runway and an H&M image of models on a runway. From there it is a small step to say that yes, those images are more false advertisement than not.
Of course, once you notice that pattern, it's harder to be misled. I remember threads on the BBS discussing the FT image I described, split between the jaded older Simmers who knew it was just clever photography and those hopefuls who expected it was an implicit revelation of daycares or at least toddlers being able to visit community lots. So, as with any other type of advertising, it comes down to being able to read between the lines and maybe getting burned a few times before you realize what's what. The fact that you [I]can get burned, though, suggests that there's nothing "fair" about it. Knowing how to navigate a rigged system doesn't make it any less rigged.
30th Jul 2011, 8:24 AM
It depends on the situation, I really mean that. Would you want to see a Depends commercial in a real life situation?
With shopping catalogs you should always be suspicious of strange wording because it means that the seller is trying to lead you to the wrong conclusion so that you are already at the counter with your card ready by the time you realize it. In the case of commercials, misleading the buyer has been happening so long that it is an unspoken agreement that the advertiser can get away with anything. Weasel words and hyperbole are thrown around like they're going out of style. 9 out of 10 dentists recommend your toothbrush? In what study? And when you bite into that chocolate cereal does it really transport you to a land where everything is chocolate? These are bald lies that nobody can disprove.
30th Jul 2011, 11:57 AM
EA's staging of Sims marketing (screenshots, trailers) is very weaselly and always has been. With most other popular games, at least you can usually tell "Oh, this is a CGI trailer" or the like. With The Sims, EA believes it can get away with flat-out staging gameplay in promotional materials since the game mainly caters to the casual market (read: People who may not be hardened to this sort of bullshit in the gaming industry). Hell, even I fell for it with TS3. I had no idea that 3/4 of the locations were rabbitholes, as the concept had never been used in the series.
In other words, EA thinks you are stupid and would like your money. Perhaps if The Sims Division was given more time between expansions, they could show off features that were actually there.
30th Jul 2011, 12:19 PM
Sociological Images had a fairly amusing example up a few days ago: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/26/advertised-objects-may-be-smaller-than-they-appear/.Aaaand that would be a perfect example of "blatant falsehood" >.<
30th Jul 2011, 1:30 PM
The reason the advertisements for the products talked about above were banned in the UK was because they broke the rules. We have laws about false advertising. That kind of banning depends on people making complaints to the government organisation responsible about the adverts. Once (enough) complaints have been made, an investigation is set up and a report and decision follows. The decision is legally enforceable - hence the ban - and prosecution is possible in the worst cases. We had a firm prosecuted and fined last year for advertising a Christmas sort of theme park thing that was just basically crap bits of plastic in trees and not as advertised: a couple of guys ripping families off with promises of an extravagant 'Christmas experience' and then not delivering anything of the sort. I'm not sure how that's going but last I heard the idea was everyone who stumped up money for tickets has a legal claim to get their money back. It's not a perfect system, of course. For one thing it depends on people making complaints which many people can't be bothered to do (on the other hand, if something really ticks you off, you have somewhere to go with it) and, clearly, there are going to be judgements made about whether it is worthwhile to go the full hog and investigate and/or prosecute something (this is public money we're talking about so more minor, borderline or less popular infractions of the code slide by). Anyway, personally, I think those decisions about the cosmetic products were correct - the Julia Roberts advert was a joke. I'm kind of surprised though from the comments from our American friends, reading between the lines, that you seem to lack similar legal codes about advertising? Is that right?
30th Jul 2011, 6:25 PM
@Maxon - I'm pretty sure that if they stick a disclaimer on it they can get away with almost anything. There are ways to get tagged for false advertising but in my experience it's usually involving pricing.
I work in the travel industry my company runs weekly ads for trips, all of the destinations feature lead in pricing. They give you the pricing based on the lowest category of hotel, in it's cheapest room based on the least expensive dates to travel, but they show you a picture of the 4 or 5 star property featuring one of it's higher room categories. They get away with this by using the phrase "prices starting at" so that all that has to exist is the possibility of being able to book the quoted price if you meet all the requirements. Even at that they never include the taxes and fees that add hundreds of dollars on.
This is standard operating procedure in the industry, everyone does it, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, tour companies you name it. The whole point of lead in pricing is to get the consumer to call in the first place then it's up to the sales staff to make a sale. This is pretty much the case in all forms of sales based industries. I don't know why it's this way I've never understood the reasoning behind it I would much prefer if it was more straight forward both as a salesperson and a consumer. Having spent more than 20 years in the industry I've gone through so much sales training it's ridiculous. All of it is based on how to manipulate the consumer into buying your product.
31st Jul 2011, 2:09 PM
You're right, Clashfan, in the sense that disclaimers have to be on the product if there's likely to be any variability in things like pricing (which is reasonable, after all) and you're right in the sense that it can be misleading. However, as I understand the law, there is a line over which British advertisers are not allowed to step. Saying the price starts at XXX (for off-peak, smallest room etc) is one thing (and most people would expect that anyway) but showing a different, swankier hotel that is not available at all under the scheme they are offering is false advertising and that would cross the line. You can't say, 'you could stay in this hotel', when that's not possible. Or if you did, you'd be in danger of someone reporting you. Consumer protection here is quite powerful if you know how to use it - the relevant acts put the power in the hands of the consumer not the companies. It's been like that since the Consumer Protection Act of 1979 (you can tell I've made use of it several times, can't you?).
31st Jul 2011, 3:42 PM
I just looked up the US false advertising law, which apparently depends on proving that consumers received a false impression. Punishment consists of ordering the advertiser to stop, which is not much of a deterrent when there are no fines or criminal punishment. Unfortunately the real scam artists will just change their company name and the product name and start in again.
I also believe that it shouldn't be the responsibility of the buyer to find out if a product is legitimate or not. Cheating is cheating, no matter how foolish or uninformed the victim may be, and the blame lies entirely with the cheater. Unfortunately we have to live in the real world, though, and the reality is that people have to learn to protect themselves. If something looks too good to be true it probably is, do a Google search before you buy, blah blah.
Some false advertising is pretty blatant. Like the weight-loss ads that claim you can lose weight without dieting or exercise, complete with pictures - the 'before' pictures are usually blurry and badly lit, the person is wearing awful clothes, has messy hair, poor posture, etc. Then the 'after' picture is nicely lighted and posed, the person is made up and smiling, and often has acquired a surprising amount of muscle tone for not having exercised. I agree that cosmetic ads are also pretty bad; they make claims that just aren't true and get away with it with disclaimers that 'results may vary' etc. (And often they use the same kind of before and after pictures, come to think of it.) I've fallen for them myself and bought stuff that doesn't actually do anything.
Sociological Images had a fairly amusing example up a few days ago: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/07/26/advertised-objects-may-be-smaller-than-they-appear/
Wow. What did they do, use elf children for that picture?
4th Aug 2011, 9:20 AM
If you show a trailer of a game, with events and images that cannot be reasonably expected to occur in a normal game, then I think it is false advertising.
sorry, i just had to say that.
as for whether its fair game or false advertising...its very obviously false advertising. it would be 'fair game' if it were actually fair--an accurate depiction of what was being sold and its details, none of this 'slightly altered' or 'fine print' bullcrap.
but most advertisers know that their product doesnt look so shiny if theyre upfront with you about its every crevasse, so they tend to take the approach of first appearing as a mysterious date who every so often gets up to 'go to the bathroom' and by the time you know that theyve been leaving to shoot up heroin in the alleys behind your romantic buildings of choice, youve already gotten married and become pregnant and its too late to take it all back for a full refund.
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