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Extreme Puffery Pays Off

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday May 15, 2013 )

An Australian man with no previous career copywriting experience has found himself the center of attention after posting a rather unique classified ad.After engaging in what could be described as puffery to the nth degree; his ad for an old ute attracted over 200,000 views.

Given it starts out like this, it’s little wonder it generated attention:

“Fabricated from rare minerals excavated from the core of Mount Olympus”

You can read the full ad here.

It’s a very clever advertisement and yes, he did sell the vehicle. A news report on the ad indicates he probably could have sold it many times over.

Puffery in advertising is where you make an unsubstantiated claim so ridiculous, the average consumer knows it may not be true; therefore it’s not misleading.

According to Wikipedia, the FTC defines puffery as a “term frequently used to denote the exaggerations reasonably to be expected of a seller as to the degree of quality of his product, the truth or falsity of which cannot be precisely determined.”

An Australian law handbook says:

“‘Puffery’ is a term used by the courts to describe enthusiastic or exaggerated claims used by advertisers to promote products and services when it is obvious that the claims should not be taken seriously.”

More common puffery can be along the lines of “we’re no.1” or “our prices are insane” – neither statement is likely to be true and cannot be substantiated.

..and both are boring and have been done to death.

A bit of creative puffery might add a bit of life to your copy and a smile to a potential customer’s face. A happy potential customer is one who is easier to sell to.

Unfortunately, it seems many marketers do not know the difference between puffery and outright deception (or just choose to ignore the distinction), so use it with care. Also bear in mind humour can be a tricky thing on the web.


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