Puffery in Advertising: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is Advertising Puffery?
  • 1:40 Examples Of…
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Fenner

Susan has an MBA in Management from the University of North Alabama. She teaches online and campus-based Business courses.

This lesson discusses an adverting technique known as 'puffery.' Puffery in advertising is very common, but where do you draw the line between puffery and false advertising? Let's take a closer look.

What is Advertising Puffery?

Julia woke with the worst backache of her entire life. 'Great,' she muttered. 'This is not how I wanted to start my vacation!' She flipped on the bedside lamp and slowly sat up. Her mind drifted back to the glossy resort brochure. 'Comfortable beds . . . like sleeping on a cloud,' it said. 'Ha! Maybe a cloud full of rocks', she thought.

Julia grabbed her robe and opened the door to the hallway. There was no one in sight, but a tray had been left on the floor by the door. She gingerly bent down and picked it up and then retreated back inside. She glanced around the drab, cramped little room, vainly looking for a spot to set the tray. 'Spacious rooms', the brochure had boasted. 'Compared to what?' she wondered.

She reluctantly set the tray on the end of the bed and lifted the cover off the metal dish. The plate held a banana and a small croissant. Again, the words in the brochure came to mind, 'Meals fit for a king!' She let out a slow sigh. It was going to be a long week.

Julia has just experienced first-hand what is known as advertising puffery. Advertising puffery is defined as advertising or promotional material that makes broad exaggerated or boastful statements about a product or service that are subjective (or a matter of opinion), rather than objective (something that is measurable), and that which no reasonable person would presume to be literally true. Puffery does not create any express warranty or guarantee for the consumer.

Sometimes there is a thin line between puffery, which is legal, and false advertising, which is illegal. Let's take a closer look at some examples.

Examples of Advertising Puffery

When Kraft Foods' advertising campaign claimed their Maxwell House brand coffee was 'America's Best Loved Coffee,' Proctor and Gamble (P & G), maker of Folgers Coffee, cried foul, and claimed it was false advertising. P & G produced data showing that Maxwell House was not the best selling coffee brand in the U.S., and couldn't be the 'best loved coffee.' The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau arbitrated the case and disagreed with P & G. They ruled that the 'best loved coffee' had more of a historic, nostalgic feel and did not mean Maxwell House claimed they had the largest market share. Their finding was that it was perfectly legal advertising puffery.

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