Truth in Advertising, should we accept Puffery

Thoughts about how it is being used.

While using ’Dog’ as a brand might not fly, “Lucky Dog” and many other brands with ‘dog’ in the brand name show what is possible. Assume ‘Free’ forms just one part of the registered brand trade mark and consider many brands stylise their brand trade marks (motifs). This includes playing with font sizes, blending and overall designs to create a unique look. Is there a trademark for the product of which the word FREE is only one portion?

Linking the prominent use of ‘FREE’ to capture the minds of the target market?

Who needs ‘wings’ Redbull, when one can be ‘Free’?
Ah, so sweet and flavoursome this Vodka. Anecdotally the ideal way to dissolve one’s caution and inhibitions. Not the only possible effect real or imagined.

I don’t know but I think that “zero” is already trademarked (in the beverage sector) and that could have formed part of their decision to go with “free”.

An interesting possibility that Asahi Beverages brand “Vodka Cruiser” might be on a similar path to Coke brands.

Clear as …… whether Asahi is blocked from marketing “Vodka Cruiser Zero” as a TM brand, or are they out to differentiate their product with a statement open to interpretations.

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Millers keeps on doing this: a discount percentage as big as a house.
Above it in a much smaller print: Up to.
At the end margin a microscopic: T&Cs apply. Exclusive to members only.
Selected styles.

So, go in and spend a lot of time looking for which selected style has got what percentage of discount, and most importantly (for them) become a member, which means give them your life history to keep in their computer forever. If I remember rightly it includes your email, phone number, and date of birth…(they say it’s needed to wish you a happy birthday).

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If you notice, after the ‘off’, there is a tiny asterisk. This directs you to the associated terms and conditions. Which spells out the membership.
This use of the asterisk makes the signage compliant with ACCC rules and is therefore not misleading advertising.
If that is what you are getting at.

Always look for that little symbol.

Thank you but I’m a very savvy shopper, and quite aware of advertising signs and symbols.

The advertising sign at Millers covers about half of the shop window and the very big font of the 80% Off takes up nearly all of the space. It easily gains passers by attention.
It is clearly done to 'influence consumers perceptions’. And this topic is asking if such Ads should be classed as 'misleading practice’.

I believe so for more than one reason:

  • The advertised percentage discount is not a flat one on all items but an ‘Up to’ on selected items. The ‘Up to’ is in a much smaller and finer print, the ‘selected items only’ is almost invisible.

  • The small print at the end of the sign indicating that it’s for members only is in an incredibly small print easily overlooked.

  • Once the customer comes in, finds the selected item they like at the right price, and is then told that they can only have it at that price if they register as members, it would be difficult not to for many.
    Personally I walked out years ago and never been back. My details including date of birth are worth a lot more than a little discount from a shop which is already not a very expensive one.

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Millers has a certain history as part of the Mosaic Group that has been claimed to revel in practices many find dodgy. Pushing the boundaries and not worrying about consequences or reputation seems their style over time.

Just because they might comply with the inadequate letter of a law does not mean they shouldn’t be called out. Unfortunately Millers or Mosaic Group are not always alone in their tactics.

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Some years back I found it interesing how sales signs added ‘up to’ into the format. When I see this, and considering I do the majority of my shopping online, I have a look to see which items are truly 80% off and check archived prices to see if they’re inflated then discounted. The majority of the time I do not find a product thats at that top percentage. Now, possibly, they’ve sold out, but how does the ACCC see this type of signage. ‘Up to’ could mean anything. The prices could be not more than 50% off. ‘Up to’ just means not over.

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Well yes. I could offer a sale with up to 100% off that had nothing off at all. Meaningless does not disqualify any claim from use.

“green”
“natural”
“organic”
“saving”
“up to”
“special”
“the best”
“hot deal”
etc
etc

What is the difference between politics, the story of Peter Pan and sales puffery? None, they all have the same magic; selling belief to the susceptible.

A fairy (or a lie) dies every time somebody says “I don’t believe” but yet there are still fairies. Fairies breed prolifically because we love them so.

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Yes, ‘Up To’ is a vague term especially when accompanied by ‘Selected Items Only’. Many fashion retailers do that mostly during ‘Sales’. When entering the shop it’s disappointing to see that actually the offer applies only to a few leftover styles, colours, sizes, and that the discount on those is actually a lot less than the one advertised in the boldest font in the shop window. And, no there’s nothing left in the store which matches that discount.

But Millers enticement is compounded by the fact that it actually does not apply to all of the prospective customers but only to those who have registered as members. Signage used to say ‘T&C applies’, now it also says ‘members only’ but in a very small easily missed print. Also the membership registration asks for details which are not usually given for obtaining loyalty cards. But, yes, there are many who fall for it, and IMHO that’s a good reason for those type of enticements/influences to be classified as ‘misleading practices’.

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I suppose this sort of shop advertising is designed to work the same way as the online world ‘clickbait’, which I despise. Entices you into the store and once there spend time trying to find something that is a bargain, buy something you probably wouldn’t buy if it wasn’t on special, and sign you up as a member so they can bombard you with emails and possibly make extra money by selling your details to ‘partners’.

I wouldn’t call it puffery, or misleading. It is just agressive and manipulative marketting.

A shop that would never get my business.

Or mine but there are others of like habit.
Kitchen wares offer one common example. One might need to go a long way out of the way to find an alternative to the more ubiquitous duo.

That’s right. There’s no puffery there.

I feel that it could be misleading, depending on how much the company is taking the ****. The problem is proving it. The mechanism simply doesn’t exist where you could verify the product claim, or prove that it’s a shonky claim. So it’s unlikely that any consumer is going to make a formal, legal complaint.

Yes, always look to see whether there are disclaimers. Your speed in walking away should be proportional to the number of “little symbols”.*^#†

This is an overly bold statement. An asterisk (or other fine print) is not a “get out of jail free card” to write whatever a business likes and then qualify it with reams of fine print. The key test that the ACCC and a court would consider, were it to get that far, is the “overall impression” e.g. https://consumer.gov.au/sites/consumer/files/2016/05/0553FT_ACL-guides_UnfairPractices_web.pdf

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