Written by: Cassandra Deakin
The advertising industry has changed drastically over the last few years and social media has been a huge factor in that. But something I’ve noticed recently is the insane amount of people claiming ‘false advertising.’ Sure, some of the claims have reasonable evidence and logical reasoning. Others, however, are ridiculous.
Take the most recent crusade against KFC, for example. A 64-year-old woman is crying false advertising because the KFC commercials depict buckets overflowing with chicken, whereas the $20 bucket she purchased was only “half a bucket.” KFC’s Georgia headquarters informed her that the chicken was displayed prominently so that the audience could really see the chicken. The woman declared that they should just “put it in a dish” if they want people to see it. The woman even went on to say that the KFC commercials should resemble the orphan boy in the Oliver Twist movie asking for more porridge.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand being upset when you don’t receive what you think you should when you purchase something. But are a few pieces of chicken really worth a 20-million-dollar lawsuit? Advertisements are designed to sell things. Granted there are the rare ads such as the Budweiser puppy that are both moving and beautiful, but the end goal remains the same: to sell products/ideas. KFC wants to sell their chicken. Obviously, there are going to be discrepancies between the food you see in an advertisement and the food you receive. False advertising is defined as a manufacturer’s use of confusing, misleading, or blatantly untrue statements when promoting a product. I for one, don’t believe that KFC is guilty of false advertising. Every fast-food chain in America would be penalized for false advertising if this was truly the case. No fast-food looks as good as the ads depict it.
Fast-food industry aside, another company has recently come under fire for supposed false advertising. No Man’s Sky, an action-adventure survival video game released in August 2016, has set a record. No Man’s Sky has achieved the lowest rating possible on Steam. Only 12 percent of the reviews in the last 30 days have been positive, with only 32 percent overall being positive. This game was one of the most hyped games over the summer. Players, however, are angry because the game’s initial trailers and online storefront do not depict the actual game. According to Engadget, the game has gotten so much negative feedback and accusations that the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have begun an investigation into the game’s advertisement. Unlike the KFC case, I can agree that this game’s advertising was extremely different from the final product. In addition, the trailer boasted some key features which were flat-out not included in the game. What I find interesting about this particular case compared to KFC’s is that neither Steam (online store platform selling the game), Hello Games (developers/engineer), or Sean Murray (the game’s creative head) have responded to the complaints. Every article I’ve read has said “no comment from Sean,” “no comments from Hello,” etc. Fans have taken to social media to voice their complaints and THAT is what I think has killed this game so harshly. The hashtag #NoMansLie started recently and someone even created a fake account with the creator’s name with the handle @NoMansLie. The game was elevated to hype-heights by social media and is now being crushed into the pits of game hell by social media. Its creators’ inactivity on social media is dragging it down even further.
Social media has changed the way consumers interact with advertising. Now, not only can consumers complain about what they consider deceptive advertising to their close friends, but they can also scream it from the metaphorical rooftops of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other social media platform. People share the absurd false advertising claims that they read and the rest becomes history (or a 20-million-dollar lawsuit). At any rate, I firmly believe that consumers have a responsibility to be informed. The advertising industry makes assumptions that whatever consumers they’re targeting can handle a little bit of exaggeration. That’s what advertising is. However, consumers are considering themselves ‘informed’ simply based off untrue or sensationalistic articles from the internet. Finally, I think that content creators such as game developers need to make attempts to reach their fans through social media. Silence on social platforms is viewed extremely negatively, and fans feel like the companies don’t care if they don’t respond.