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Deceptive Advertising

This article covers meaning & overview of Deceptive Advertising from marketing perspective

Published by MBA Skool Team in Marketing and Strategy Terms Last Updated: June 22, 2023Read time:

What is Deceptive Advertising?

When a company promotes its products with help of confusing, misleading or untrue statements, it is called deceptive or false advertising. This type of advertising is dangerous for consumers as they are intentionally misled by the misrepresentation of nature, characteristics or quality of the goods and services offered by various companies.

Channels, used for advertising and promotion of a brand, like newspaper, magazines, brochures, radio, TV and online; are all prone to deceptive marketing.

Various modifications to advertising regulations have been done over time to incorporate laws, to prevent deceptive advertising.

Deceptive advertising can present itself in many forms. Some of them include the following:

a) Oral or written misrepresentation: where promises or statements made through ads, do not always match the reality.

Eg. A paint may advertise that a coat will cover 500 square feet, when in reality, only 250 square feet can be covered in one coat.

b) Pictorial misrepresentation: when items being displayed in the ads, often show attachments or accessories that are not included in the sale price.

Eg. An ad for living-room set may feature 6 pieces of furniture for a given price, when in reality, only 4 furniture pieces are covered in that price. Furthermore, the sets being offered are very different than the ones featured in the ads.

c) On-Sale Advertising: The discounts offered in a sale offer are misleading. Stores generally raise their prices, so that the prices appear appealing.

d) Free offers: Ads featuring free-offers never mention the items you may need to buy in order to get something for free. Sometimes companies raise their regular prices to cover the cost of such free-offers. In short, the terms of such a free-offer are never disclosed in the ads.

e) Bait and Switch: An Ad lures the consumers with an offer that is actually non-existent in reality.

Eg. An Ad may lure the consumers by featuring a product at a very low price. But once the consumer gets to the store to avail the offer, the seller changes the arrangement. They claim that the product is not available at the price mentioned in the ads and the consumer can be hooked to a much better deal. In this way, sellers try to lure the customers into the stores so that they can be switched to a high-priced deal.

f) Privacy Protection: This is related to online advertising. When the users make purchases online, using credit/debit cards, there is disclaimer by the merchant that the portal is safe and there would be full protection of details, entered by the user. But this is sometimes not the case.

Various tricks are used by advertisers to deceive the customers and make their products look a lot different than reality:

• Using antacids to create fizz in soda

• Using mashed potato instead of ice-creams to feature a solid appearance

• Using hairspray on fruits and vegetables so that they appear to be fresh

• Changing the low angle of camera to feature a Jacuzzi as an infinity pool

• Using Photoshop to change the appearance of food items, fashion models etc.

• Using Brown show polish to color hamburger

• Using shampoo as milk in cereals

• Using Motor oil as syrup or honey

An example:


Hence, this concludes the definition of Deceptive Advertising along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team which comprises of MBA students, management professionals, and industry experts. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

Browse the definition and meaning of more similar terms. The Management Dictionary covers over 1800 business concepts from 5 categories.

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