Monday, December 01, 2014

Enter The Weasel

The general public seems to believe that advertising is mostly lies.

That is not the case. In fact we operate under stringent requirements to be "legal, decent, truthful and honest."

However, we are very often guilty of employing 'weasel words', a phrase I generally shorten to just 'weasels'.

The weasel's favoured habitat is in claim lines.

"May improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles" is a weasel that really pisses me off. "May" means absolutely nothing. They might as well write "may cause nuclear war" or "may cause you to be recruited as the next member of One Direction."

"Up to 70% off" is another favourite. This could mean that nothing in the store is reduced at all, apart from one pair of socks, which is 69% off.

"A toothpaste that fights oral bacteria" is a classic weasel, because 'fighting' means nothing of any significance. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel could charge aggressively towards a Tiger Tank, get instantly cut down by one of its 7.92mm MG34 machine guns and then be run over and squished, and you could still fairly claim it to be "A dog that fights tanks."

I believe consumers are too smart to be taken in by weasels. And the vast majority of clients know that.

Still, a few seem to slip through.

Tell me your favourite weasel in the comments, and at the end of the week I may crown a King of the Weasels.


Anonymous said...

A personal hate – "Australia's favourite..."

Anonymous said...

Studies Confirm...

Anonymous said...

Having reluctantly written "Australia's favourite" on many occasions, it has to be substantiated. What it really means is "Australia's best selling".

Anonymous said...

The beauty industry probably wouldn't survive without weasels. All products seem to "help moisturise skin..." and "revitalize your body"

makumbo said...

no weasel is as big as the asterisk.

JB said...

"With the goodness of..."

Anonymous said...

My all time favourite is from 30 years ago. Palmolive soap had 'Keep your skin young looking' on its wrapper!

Anonymous said...

No ADDED preservatives

Anonymous said...

No added sugar (besides the 12g/litre)

Anonymous said...

MG34. IMHO, the best gun of the war, apart from the 88. Both of them German of course. And more worryingly for the dog, both of them on a Tiger.

GOUT-LEGS said...

Is that you Bob?

Jim Powell said...

I recently saw an add for Clairol shamppo that claimed 5 in 1 actions. I though "by Jeeves that's jolly spiffing' so sent my man out to find the five actions.

I started to ponder what they may be - I have heard of 2 in 1, you know shampoos and conditions, why take two bottles into the shower when you can just take one, but what are the other 3?

It turns out these are they 5 a benefits in a bottle are: 1- gently cleanses / 2- softens / 3- nourishes / 4- smells fresh / 5- detangles

Not exactly weasels but come on what next 6. looks good in your shower. 7. can be opened anytime of the day 10. doesn't get car sick 11. Not scared of the dark

Naturally Raised. said...

“9 women out of 10 say…”
“Innovation from…”
“Increased cell vitality”
“The laboratories of… tested…and…”
“A clinical study showed….”
“With real taste of…”
“Certified as XX%…”
“With characterizing flavor of...”
"all natural"
"made with real..."
"With immunity boosters"

Jack Russell said...

Up to $ credit.

Putney Nope said...

The current run of Sony smartphones are using an appalling asterisk - 'Waterproof*'

Hardly instills confidence, especially when it's in a large font, practically punctuating your headline with a butthole.

Anonymous said...

I think many of these comments fail to understand the point of the weasel. It is to make something seem like a claim, yet not really be a claim at all upon closer interrogation.

My favourite is the humble question mark:

- Is this Australia's cheapest chemist?
- Can any competitor clean better?
- Am I this blog's smartest commenter?

Anonymous said...

@Gout Legs
No. It's me Bob Crescendo off of If this is a blog....etc.

Mister Gash said...

Dear Mr Scamp

I worked on a retail (furniture) campaign last year. In the 'Big Winter Sale' (which last four 4 months btw) there was an 'Extra Savings Event'.

There were over 750 items in the sale. The retailer further reduced the price of precisely four of them. By 5 quid each.


Scamp said...

Okay, a lotta great entries.

But to be 'King of the Weasels'... I'm crowning.... The Asterisk.

And the commenter who made this suggestion, who goes by the name of Makumbo, wins a trip for two to Fiji!*

Anonymous said...

'Helps ...' followed by any claim under the Sun. I can 'help' pay off your million dollar home loan by contributing one cent.

'Contains ... ' . So long as there is any at all of said gunk in there, this is legal.

'100% natural'. How is something 50% natural. This weasel of often mated with 'Contains...'

'Leaves your skin feeling ... ', usually followed by softer, and moisturised. 'Feeling' is subjective, so no problem.

I use each of these on a weekly if not daily basis btw. It 'helps' pay the home loan.