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  • Frank Gussoni

Misleading Ads Vs. Persuasive Ads. There is a Big Difference!

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

No one likes misleading advertisements. Misleading is the best word I can think of to describe this tactic, because it suggests that people don’t know that they are being told or shown something that is over-emphasized or exaggerated. This is far from the truth. Consumers are very aware that what they are seeing in some advertising may not end up being exactly what they get.

Sure, advertising needs to be persuasive, but brands need to be careful not to mislead people with ads. I understand that it’s not always easy to create ads that are persuasive and not misleading.

However, many ads take persuasion to extremes and walk a fine line between fact and fiction.

Consumers know the difference between persuasive and misleading. I’m sure that most are aware that many advertisements contain some exaggerated claims. Whether it be automobiles, political campaigns, cleaning products, weight loss programs, beverages or fast- food chains, consumers can see through the BS. So, if most people don’t believe what they see, what function can advertising possibly serve today?

Many brands still believe that the purpose of the advertising is to provide consumers with facts and information. At one time, it may have been the only area of focus. In today’s world, with so many media outlets, instant search, review sites and social media communities, the real product or service details and realities are very easy for potential consumers to research themselves and get feedback through previous buyer’s experiences. Persuasive advertising today needs only to pique the interest of consumers so that they can then research the facts and details somewhere else.

One of the primary features of a persuasive advertising is that it engages with the emotions of the consumer. It needs to relate to the viewer. Misleading advertisements can also appeal to the emotions of the viewer, but the wrong emotions. When an advertiser promises more than they can deliver, that is misleading information is quickly identified by consumers.

Media consumption is now measured in impressions. Today, the most important task of advertising is to deliver an impression, one that can instantly attract the attention of and relate to the potential consumer it is being conveyed to. Ads need to express: Credibility, Image, Personality, Story and Beliefs. When these elements come together, you have persuasive advertising at its best.

At its worst, and unfortunately, in its most common form, advertising is anything but inspiring, engaging or realistic. The bulk of the impressions being made are loud, intrusive, and most of all boring. Trust me when I tell you, THESE ADS DON’T SELL PRODUCTS. They may be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. They are offensive because consumers know they are misleading. And they are misleading because they are generated by brands who have not yet realized that the whole process of effective advertising to consumers has changed.

Unless you’re creating persuasive ads with the intent of leaving an impression that truly relates to and inspires your customers, you’re not advertising, you’re “MISLEADING”. There is a big difference!



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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