Monday, May 16, 2011

Is What You See Really What You Get?

Lauren McGrath

Advertisements can be misleading, especially as technology makes it easier to manipulate images at the drop of a hat. Sadly, lies in advertisements aren't just found in altered images or made up text, some companies are simply trying to fool viewer's into believing something.

False Advertising
Now more than ever, companies are being reprimanded for the claims they make in their commercials. For example, in September 2009, Dannon was sued for exaggerating the health benefits of Activia yogurt. Most recently, Taco Bell has come under fire for claiming the company uses "ground beef" or "seasoned ground beef." Apparently the beef Taco Bell uses contains only 35% beef, leaving the majority of the beef to be made of something else. Consumers are always taken aback when issues like these arise. Taco Bell says it's made with beef so why should they believe otherwise? I'm not suggesting you become a paranoid consumer but think twice before believing what you hear spit out over the radio or television. Even billboards and print ads are guilty of false advertising too. Be conscious of ridiculous claims and you'll be all the wiser.

Unhealthy Food Ads Influence Children
A recent study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University confirmed a connection between food advertisements and children. Children who viewed fast food and candy commercials consumed more unhealthy foods than those who did not watch those commercials. Also, the children consume more unhealthy food overall, as opposed to just the brand advertised in the commercial. However, viewing a certain number of fast food or sugary beverage commercials directly resulted in an increased consumption of fast food or sugary beverages, depending on the type of commercial viewed.

Honesty is the Best Policy
All companies should take Domino's lead with upfront advertising. The pizza brand's December 2009 advertising campaign was a shot in the dark in an effort to address customer complaints after Domino's received reports that pizza was "cardboard" and "boring and bland." Luckily, their truthful and sincere approach won back customers and created a major buzz from other companies. In a May 2011 article from, Sean Gregory reports that "In 2010, U.S. same-store sales rose 9.9%, and domestic store growth was positive for the first time since 2007." It is a rarity for companies to be truthful in their ads but Domino's took a chance and the risk paid off for them.

Check out Domino's ad that ran nationally in response to customer complaints:

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