THE WORST 7 MISLEADING ADVERTISING EXAMPLES IN AUSTRALIA

Find below the worst 7 misleading advertising examples in Australia. False, untruthful and deceiving marketing ads examples in Australia. 

Brought to you by Mau, a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at eDigital

THE WORST 7 MISLEADING ADVERTISING EXAMPLES IN AUSTRALIA

Raise your hand if you are a marketer who has – at some point in your professional career – launched an ad that could be seen as misleading, false, exaggerated, deceiving or untruthful.

We probably have all done it without even noticing it. 

Marketers fall into this trap for different reasons, motives or circumstances.

  • Peer pressure. Your boss is demanding you run an ad that is not really telling the full truth about the brand’s benefits. 
  • The stress of hitting sales targets. The stability of your marketing job depends on whether or not you hit sales targets. You need to feed your family and you do not want to lose your job so you rely on dark marketing tactics to get your potential customers hard-earned money out of their pockets. 
  • Desire to win a marketing award. Sometimes, that desire makes marketers (and their agencies) take risks and craft messages that are not true to what the brand can actually offer or deliver. 

The above surely are not excuses. Marketers have the responsibility to offer as much factual information to their customers so they can make informed buying decisions.

THE WORST 7 MISLEADING ADVERTISING EXAMPLES IN AUSTRALIA

Find below the worst 7 misleading advertising examples in Australia. False, untruthful and deceiving marketing ads examples in Australia. 

7. BLOOMEX FLOWERS & BOUQUETS

Roses are red, violets are blue and Bloomex bouquets seem too good to be true.

“They look like something you’d find in the bin at the cemetery,”

An angry Bloomex customer told A Current Affair.

Bloomex is one of A Current Affair’s most complained-about companies.

To see how Bloomex advertised its flowers and the terrible flowers customers received, you can read “A Current Affair” article here

6. OVIRA – PILLS FOR A BLOATED BELLY

Ovira sells women’s health products including electronic devices claiming to relieve period pain. The company used an Australian TikToker Chelsea Hall’s videos (TikTok:@chels.hall) in an Instagram advertisement for “Bloat Control” pills.

The Ovira advertisement featured videos and pictures of Chelsea Hall with accompanying text that read:

“How I took my chronically bloated belly from this to this in just under three months”, “this anti-bloating vitamin from the brand Ovira was the one that worked for me” and “If you want ur (sic) dream body head to ovira.com today”.

Chelsea Hall confirmed to the ABC that she has never tried Ovira’s products before to treat her bloating. Chelsey said:

“I’ve never bought from the company and they’ve never sent me anything. They’ve never even sent me a message.” 

@chels.hall @ovira I’m calling you out for lying & abusing the trust of your 5.7 million followers. How dare you think you can blatantly lie to us all & get away with it. Where’s the apology, where’s the ownership. Repost so we can get their attention! #nameandshame #scam #scammers #scammersgetcaught #greenscreenvideo ♬ original sound – chelsea ????

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5. KFC – FREE DELIVERY 

KFC misleading advertising free delivery Australia 2021

KFC misleading advertising free delivery Australia 2021

KFC (parent company Yum! Brands) was found to have breached Ad Standards.

KFC promoted free delivery on its ‘Christmas In July Feast’, which has been advertised online, on social media, radio and KFC-owned channels.

The product purchased via the app using the pickup option was $49.95. When choosing the delivery option the product stated free delivery but the cost changed to $52.95.

That is not free delivery.

According to the Ad Standards Community Panel (part of the Australian Association of National Advertisers AANA), the KFC advertisement did breach Section 2.1 of the Food Code regarding misleading and deceptive advertising.

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4. TRIVAGO MISLEADING AD – CHEAP HOTEL DEAL

Year: 2016-2019. The Dutch company Trivago did not actually show consumers the cheapest deals for hotel rooms. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took Trivago to court in August 2019 and the penalty is to be released.

trivago sneaky advertising misleading consumers

trivago sneaky advertising misleading consumers

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3. SAMSUNG AUSTRALIA MISLEADING ADS

Samsung Australia misleading advertising phone sea

Samsung Australia misleading advertising phone sea

In 20217, some ads run by Samsung Australia showed seven phones being used in or around oceans and pools, with an accompanying claim that each phone was water resistant in up to 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes.

In 20219, The ACCC found these ads to be misleading, and that Samsung Australia did not have a ‘reasonable basis’ for representing the above devices as being suitable for use in all types of water. According to the ACCC, Samsung was aware that its phone could be damaged from exposure to salt water or chlorine, and the company also denied warranty claims from customers with water-damaged devices.

“Samsung Australia’s ads promoting its Galaxy phones featured people using their phones in pools and sea water, despite the fact that this could ultimately result in significant damage to the phone,” said ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

Samsung Australia agreed that there was a possibility that the advertised Galaxy phones could be damaged if a customer attempted to charge their device after exposing it to water. This is due to the presence of moisture in the charging port, which could cause the port to become corroded.

Samsung Australia admitted to breaching Australian Consumer Law by making misleading claims in its advertising.

Samsung was well aware of the charging port issues at the time of the advertising campaigns; in fact, each of the seven included Galaxy phones would display a warning message on-screen if customers attempted to charge their device while water was still in the port.

With Samsung now acknowledging that its marketing was misleading, the brand has now agreed to pay out the $14 million in penalties as ordered by the Federal Court.

Have you watched, heard or experienced a misleading ad in Australia? You can make a complaint now! 

2. NANDOS MISLEADING AD – LUNCH ON US

Nandos misleading ad lunch on us

Nandos misleading ad lunch on us

Ad Standards has banned a “misleading” Nando’s ad for giving customers the impression they could receive a free lunch in-store between 11 am and 2 pm when there were hidden terms and conditions which meant only the first 250 people would receive “lunch on us”.

The ad posted to Nando’s Facebook page says “Lunch on us Monday 5th – Friday 9th Feb, 11 am-2 pm”, however, a complaint posted to Ad Standards said when they arrived for a free lunch, they were told there “was a limit of the first 250 people so to get in early when it starts so you don’t miss out”.

“Nowhere does the advertising suggest this limit and I find that to be misleading and disappointing,” the complaint said.

Nando’s said the image wasn’t misleading as it “visually featured food items that could be claimed under the offer” and the advertiser offered a link to the full terms and conditions.

The advertiser said the terms and conditions outlined that a maximum of 250 lunches would be given out per day.

Ad Standards said it wasn’t reasonable to expect users to click through to a terms and conditions page when looking at an image on Facebook and the terms and conditions should have been made clear as part of the ad.

“The Panel considered that the advertiser had not intended to mislead the public but considered that the overall impression of the advertisement is that anyone in the store between 11 am and 2 pm would receive a free meal. The Panel considered that as this was not the case the advertisement was misleading,” Ad Standards said.

Ad Standards upheld the complaint.

Nando’s responded to the ruling saying it did not agree with the outcome but respected the decision made by Ad Standards.

Nandos said the ad was discontinued weeks prior to the ruling, however, the ad was still available on its Facebook page for some days after the complaint.

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1. ETIHAD AIRWAYS  MISLEADING ADS

misleading ad example etihad airways April 2023

misleading ad example Etihad Airways – Banned in April 2023

Some social media ads run by Etihad Airways promoting its sustainable aviation have been banned in the UK and the ruling comes just weeks after a similar complaint was made about the airline in Australia.

The ruling from the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is related to two advertisements featured on Facebook.

The text in the ad read: “We understand the impact flying has on the environment. That’s why we are taking a louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation”

An accompanying video showed an Etihad plane flying.

Then on-screen text stated, “With Etihad you’ll earn Etihad Guest Miles” above an image of a card with a plant coming out of it. The card had the text, “ETIHAD GUEST CONSCIOUS CHOICES”.

An image of the world appeared, above on-screen text that said, “… every time you make a Conscious Choice for the planet”.

An image of the world was shown quickly passing by.

The on-screen text said: “ENVIRONMENTAL AIRLINE OF THE YEAR FOR 2022 IN THE AIRLINE EXCELLENCE AWARDS”.

This was beneath an image of a golden rosette with the text in the middle which said, “Airline Ratings ENVIRONMENTAL AIRLINE OF THE YEAR ETIHAD AIRWAYS 2022”.

The second ad featured the same text as the first.

An accompanying video showed an Etihad plane in flight. The on-screen text said, “At Etihad, we are cutting back …”.

Then an image of a tray and cutlery was shown. On-screen text in the middle of the tray said, “… on single-use plastics … and are flying the most modern and efficient planes.

Flights with a smaller footprint”.

The same golden rosette was shown along with the information about the airline’s award-winning environmental efforts.

The ASA challenged whether the ads were misleading because they exaggerated the environmental benefits of flying with Etihad.

The advertising code required that absolute environmental claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation.

The decision from the ASA said, both ads claimed Etihad “understood the impact flying had on the environment”, and said they were “taking a louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation”.

However, it gave no further context or explanation as to how “sustainable aviation” was being achieved.

The ASA acknowledged Etihad’s comments that the claim of “sustainable aviation” would be understood, especially in the aviation industry, as a long-term, multifaceted goal, which included their aspiration to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

However, it noted that the ads were aimed at the general public and not specifically at those in the airline industry and that neither ad mentioned Etihad’s desire to be “net-zero” by 2050 or positioned the claim “sustainable aviation” as a long-term aspiration.

The ASA concluded the claim exaggerated the impact that flying with Etihad would have on the environment and the ads breached the Code.

Etihad Airways was told to ensure that their ads did not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline and that robust substantiation was held to support them.

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HOW TO AVOID PUBLISHING MISLEADING ADS

  • Include all key facts. If the product you are selling comes with terms and conditions, then you should make that clear in the ad. You want to ensure that the people who see or read your ad have all the information they require before they make a purchase or attempt to do so.
  • The price must be clear. Nothing gets marketers into more trouble than misleading pricing. Everything that the potential customer has to pay for should be in the advertisement. It is illegal to bait and switch—that is, lure a consumer to your shop or site with one price only to switch to another when they are ready to purchase the item.
  • Don’t make contradictory promises. If you make a sweeping statement such as 50% off everything in your ad, then people will expect that to be the case. You should not make this claim, and then make another claim that contradicts it in the same ad. This will be taken as an intentional effort to confuse the public.
  • Do not make statements about things you have not achieved yet. 
  • Ensure that anything that may affect customers getting a deal is told upfront and clearly.
  • When paying influencers, celebrities, writers, Youtubers or bloggers to promote your brand, make sure the promoted content is clearly distinguishable and marked with hashtags #ad, #advert or #paidpartnership.
  • Do not make exaggerated claims. Don’t make unsubstantiated claims about what your brand can do. Claiming that your brand will provide an unproven benefit will create a legal issue for your business.
  • Point out when paid actors are reading testimonials. If you decide to cut an infomercial ad, the television audience should likewise know that the person discussing your product is being paid to do so.

The best way to protect yourself against the charge of false advertising is to become familiar with the laws that regulate it. This kind of guidance can help your marketing team cut ads that are less likely to receive official complaints.

Even if you follow the rules and make an ad that is in accordance with the law, there are people (who may be paid by competitor brands) who may still attempt to sue you for false advertising. Commercial lawyers know how to handle such cases. You must take any such suit seriously and defend your advertisement and your company’s reputation.

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CONCLUSION

Marketers should take care of the advertising messages and the claims made by those messages. 

The Advertising Standards Authority receives a great many complaints each year about untruthful, false and misleading advertising. You do not want your company’s brand and reputation tarnished by the bad work done by your marketing team. 

Need training on how best to promote your brand? Contact us today! 

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THE WORST 7 MISLEADING ADVERTISING EXAMPLES IN AUSTRALIA

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