Advertising, Public relations and Marketing Communication rely on each other for the success of a product. Advertising is a multi-billion dollars business around the globe as media groups pay top dollar for ad space in hopes of gaining traction. Public relations help in further publicity and swoops in to do damage control in case of a failed campaign. Lastly, marketing communications attempts to integrate both advertising and public relations for the ease of the client. However; the goal for these industries is to present the best image no matter so what ethics are being ignored in this pursuit? Are they perhaps employing some psychological manipulation tactics to get the public attention? Maybe they are using the public’s insecurities to get their attention? These questions will be answered by looking into an advertising term known as “puffery”.
Puffery is an advertising term in which a company may use a statement for promotional purposes even though that statement holds no truth. It is legal and companies exploit it to no end (Halim et al., 2020). There is a thin line between puffery and false advertisement, however; this line has now become so blurred that false advertisement has become prevalent. The culprits of this are big multi-million companies that advertise their products as lifestyle implying that it is necessary for the buyer. For instance, Apple users consider their products as status symbols and lifestyles. This may seem like the users’ opinions, however; this is a selling tactic that ensures future sales and customer loyalty (McAlone, 2016). Apple keeps its consumer in an “Apple sphere” in the name of user experience. Apple users cannot access third-party software and cannot get it repaired outside of Apple repair outlets. Apple ensures this by adding new features and updates that keep on confining the user in this Apple prison. Making a buyer believe that their life depends on a certain product is unethical and in this case, it is causing a divide in an already divided world.
These unethical practices go unquestioned by the legal system as these are portrayed as “public’s opinions” but where did these opinions originally come from? It is a blatant manipulation tactic; to stay relevant and to stay in business. Selling a product no longer cuts it but selling a lifestyle does and as long as no one questions it; this will keep happening.
Halim, F., Ahmad, Z., Azmi, N. J., & Omar, N. A. M. (2020). An Analysis of Puffery in Advertising Slogans. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 10(7), Pages 626-631. https://doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v10-i7/7478
McAlone, N. (2016, May 27). Why Apple needs to sell a lifestyle, not another iPhone. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-an-apple-lifestyle-subscription-would-look-like-2016-5