Watching the small print – fun with TV ad disclaimers

| 7th April 2010

Most people are too busy watching the content of  TV ads to notice the small print at the foot of the screen. But disclaimers deliver fascinating insights into the claims made by TV ads. 

Small print TV ad fails

Take the cosmetics industry. There’s absolutely no scientific evidence that anti-ageing products work. One cosmetic industry expert even acknowledged recently that because it isn’t regulated, the cosmetics  industry can use practically any ingredient it likes.

Worse still, they manage to make unsubstantiated claims about their products’ efficacy without anyone objecting. Why? Because most women are so desperate to avoid ageing that they’ll accept any old rubbish the cosmetics industry throws at them. Cosmetics marketers are getting away with marketing murder.

The language used in the body of TV adverts is equally sneaky. They never use definite propositions, preferring to duck and dive the truth by claiming things like ‘Our cream may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles’. Pick that particular sentence apart and it reveals itself as vacuous. Talk about the emperor’s new clothes.

If the financial services industry took the same approach their regulators would slap them so hard their teeth’d rattle. A marketer’s advice? If you’re a consumer, keep an eye on TV advert small print and you’ll empower yourself to make better buying decisions.

Category: copywriting and marketing 2006-17

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I've had a passion for words all my life and this is my fourteenth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve, garden, read, decorate, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I'm a member of The Poetry Society and the Labour Party. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a 'Lookerer'.

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