Virtually the most helpful advertising advice

 August 3, 2018

Marketing basics boiled down to memes.

Advertising copywriters—and especially the lawyers who edit their work—are often masters of appearing to make big promises without really promising anything.

It’s a part of marketing communications that many who practice the art dislike. But it’s there. Using words or phrases that allow advertisers (and their lawyers) to “weasel” their way out of any claim of falsehood or misdirection.

“Virtually” is a great example. Use our dishwasher detergent and your dishes will be “virtually spotless.” Which means, of course, they’ll be sort of spotless, kind of like spotless, similar to spotless, but not really spotless.

Toothpastes want you to believe they prevent cavities, which is an altogether different thing than “helps fight cavities” (“helps” is right up there with “virtually” as a weasel word). Facial potions don’t reduce wrinkles, they reduce the “appearance” of wrinkles. Often, they only “help” reduce the “appearance” of wrinkles.

There’s a way to avoid all this, of course. It’s as simple as telling the truth.

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