What is Puffery and how it affects your brand reputation

As marketers, our mission is to create awareness, demand and authority for the brands we represent. We want our users to think we are the best in the business.

Some common ways we can build awareness and brand authority include:

  • Promote positive perception of the brand.
  • Explain how users can benefit from the product.
  • Demonstrate differentiation from competitors.

However, there is a misconception in today’s world that effective marketing requires bragging — or exaggeration to an extreme degree to promote your brand.

Using bragging as a marketing tactic can make or break your brand.

On the one hand, touting helps attract the attention of the audience and helps to shape the brand image.

On the other hand, flashy advertising can negatively impact your brand image.

In this article, let’s take a closer look at puffiness in advertising and how and why it can harm your brand.

What is a powder puff?

While puffery is not new to the world, the definition of the word has changed over the centuries.

In today’s world, puffery is a use exaggerate and/or exaggerately promote products or services.

Whether you know it or not, Puffery is there for you. Some common examples of flamboyant ads you may have heard of:

  • The best product in the world.
  • Best in the business.
  • It tastes better.
  • look better.

The above example may seem unremarkable to you.

Other boastful ads sometimes make totally unbelievable claims, like claiming their beer is as cold as the Rockies.

As cold as the Rocky Mountains? You heard that right. This is exactly what Coors Light claims in their ad.

Image credit: Screenshot taken by author from coorslight.com, July 2022

Since deviating from its previous slogan of “the world’s most refreshing beer,” Coors Light has successfully marketed its Rocky Mountain temperature comparison to escape that it is the most refreshing beer. They also trademarked the slogan so competitors couldn’t use it.

Is it legal to brag ads?

This is a common question asked on Google.

While bragging is considered legal advertising, it becomes illegal when it crosses the line of false advertising.

However, the line between bragging and false advertising can sometimes be blurred. We know this because of real life examples of marketing with false claims.

The main difference between bragging and false advertising is that bragging relies on subjective Opinion-based statements. objective Statements are based on facts.

If an incorrect claim is fact-based, it becomes false advertising.

So, who decides what constitutes illegal advertising?

Both federal and state governments regulate advertising laws. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary body that oversees and enforces laws regarding illegal advertising. The FTC also:

  • Propose advertising regulations.
  • Enforce the truth in advertising laws that apply to all businesses.
  • Regulates certain sensitive industries such as alcohol, tobacco and nutritional supplements.

At the state level, individual states can make rules and take action to enforce them, usually through the attorney general’s office.

This Lanham Act of 1946 Forced false advertising is illegal, as well as trademark infringement. While many companies have and continue to comply with the law, violations and lawsuits have so far occurred.

If your brand makes an objective claim, whether intentional or not, you could face serious litigation and repercussions.

example of bragging

While bloat is still somewhat common in advertising, some brands’ claims have crossed the line.

Take 5 hours of energy. The brand claims its energy drink is “better than coffee,” and doctors actually recommend it.

The manufacturer of 5-Hour Energy was found guilty of violating the Consumer Protection Act and using advertising to mislead users.As a result, brands have to pay $4.3 million In terms of fines and fees.

Another brand image damaged by false advertising is L’Oreal. The brand claims that its Lancôme Génifique and Youth Code products prevent skin aging by “enhancing the user’s genes.” The company also used the word “clinically proven” behind its statement.

Now, if L’Oreal had scientific research to back up its claims, that wouldn’t be a problem. However, the lawsuit concluded that L’Oréal did not conduct any scientific research to support these product capabilities.

result?While there are no fines, the FTC prohibits L’Oreal from using any Anti-aging claims Or use “clinical proof” without providing hard evidence to support it.

Why boasting is bad for your brand reputation?

Considering the examples above, the most obvious reasons why bloat is bad for your brand include:

  • Currency impact.
  • Damaged reputation.

If your brand can’t substantiate outrageous claims, you could be hit with a massive lawsuit. For any business large or small, this could mean the end of your brand.

From a personal point of view, your brand reputation can be seriously affected by pomp.

If consumers are disappointed with some of the product’s claims, you may have lost trust in them. Do you think they might recommend your product to a friend after that?

maybe not.

So while you may have made an initial sale from a consumer by bragging, you may have destroyed a long-term relationship with that customer.

Potentially, you may lose future customers due to negative word of mouth.

How to keep a puff

We know that there is a fine line between bragging and false advertising. We also know that using puffery has an impact on money and reputation.

Let’s review the do’s and don’ts to avoid false advertising for your brand.

  • Don’t leave out the facts. If you’re making a claim on a fact-backed product, make sure to include it. This is a safeguard for your brand if you run into any legal issues.
  • Don’t exaggerate. Many brands have committed this crime, either innocently or deliberately. Make a true and verifiable claim about your brand.
  • Don’t make false promises. This is the best way to lose customers. As a brand, consumers expect you to help them solve their problems. If you fail to deliver on this promise, you will lose loyal customers.
  • Be honest about pricing. Another way to lose customers is through opaque pricing. If you offer a trial version that users must opt ​​out of, let them know.
  • Review industry and institutional guidelines. Certain industries are highly regulated, such as supplements and alcohol. Always check the latest laws and guidelines for your industry.
  • Backup claims. Again, the best way to protect your brand is the truth. Even if you do have an outrageous claim, backing it up with facts will protect you from lawsuits and win you over in the eyes of consumers.
  • Make sure advertised products are available to users. There is nothing worse than when consumers see an advertised product but find it unavailable. Keep abreast of your inventory to ensure a great customer experience.

wrap up

While bloat is considered legal and can be powerful at times, it can also lead to the downfall of your brand.

Boasting is not only a monetary risk, but also a reputational risk, which can sometimes be even more damaging.

Use these examples above to remind yourself of what not to do in advertising, as well as the dos and don’ts, to ensure you have a pomp-proof marketing strategy in the future.

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Featured image: kentoh/Shutterstock

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