These Products Would Crash and Burn if Their Ads Told the Truth

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Do you ever wish truth in advertising actually existed? We’ve all opened up a package and found the product inside does not match up to the expectations the ads set for us. Read further for the worst offenders, and take note for the next time you add to your shopping cart. The last one will have you nodding along.

1. Mascara commercials 

Reddit user Too-turnt pointed out that, “at the bottom in teeny tiny print it always says ‘the model is wearing inserts.’” While true, some users have gotten upset in the past. In 2013, Maybelline fielded a judgement by the National Advertising Division for ads in which the model wore falsies. Rebecca Caruso, the executive vice president of corporate communications for L’OrĂ©al U.S.A., defended the fine-print disclosure at the bottom.
“Women know that the product’s results will differ for reasons such as their own personal features and makeup techniques,” Caruso told The New York Times. “They do not expect to look like the model in the ads.” Well, now we don’t. 

2. Dieting and weight loss industries  

Ads for diet and weight loss industries like meal plans, fitness programs, and the like often use before-and-after photos to demonstrate their efficacy. But a lot of people have called their bluff. CowboyLaw said some go so far as to actually use professional athletes.
“Classically, these same agencies would find semi-pro athletes who had been injured … and would take their ‘before’ picture right when they were finally allowed to do some physical rehab, and then take the ‘after’ photo after they’re all done,” they explained. Others, as Fast Company explains, just use good lighting and angles to get the same effect. The moral? Don’t believe everything you see. 

3. Real estate 

We all know we can’t trust Craigslist apartment ads, right? TheDoorDoesntWork pointed out that high-end apartments often use augmented reality or just photoshop to make their properties look top-notch. When looking for apartments, it pays to make an in-person to visit to make sure what you see at least comes close to what you get. For inspiration, Buzzfeed rounded up some of the ways a professional photographer gets those great shots. 

4. Fast food 

Food stylists have a lot to do with making cheap food look appetizing. Redditor Apleima2 pointed out that the often stack the toppings on the front of a burger to make it look juicy, plump, and full of pickles. EddZacharyexplained that “White PVA glue is most often substituted for milk in photo shoots. White shaving cream instead of whipped cream. Mashed potatoes or lard in place of ice cream. Glycerin or hairspray to make food look moist and shiny.” Who’s hungry? If you want to really get a peek behind the scenes, McDonalds offers one

5. Drugstore hair products 

ByeByeFlutterPie complained that, “If shampoo and conditioner companies used an actual person for their ads, who used the products, I can guarantee their hair would not be coming out shiny and nice like that. I used Suave and Pantene, and my hair is not all nice and brunette and pretty.” A lot of work goes into making hair look perfect onscreen, hairstylist Damon Givens told Today.
“Some examples include stapling hair into place, spraying hairspray on the brush instead of directly onto the hair, inserting Styrofoam balls to create shape, mixing glitter with gel to enhance light reflection and create the ‘shiny hair’ look, crinkling foil with heat to add texture or even using wooden sticks or textured cardboard to shape a bun,” he shared. 

6. Household cleaning products 

TRex_N_Truex calls the ref on “Anything that claims to be tough on grease.” Other users pointed out that, a lot of the time, a single swipe with a sponge or paper towel takes away even baked-on residue. Those of us who do dishes know it just doesn’t work that way. While some really do work, nobody gets baked-on lasagna off with one wipe. 

7. Diamond jewelry 

We all know the “every kiss begins with Kay” jingle, right? Well, Reddit user InuGhost adds that “I can’t count the [number] of times my wife kissed me without having to buy her jewelry. Plus, I prefer better quality stuff then whatever you are selling.” Racked explains how Signet — the company that owns Kay, Zales, and Jared — keeps its prices lower and its advertising top-of-mind. In a nutshell? There’s a reason you know that jingle, and it isn’t because their diamonds are top-shelf. 

8. Feminine hygiene products 

Not only does the blue water used in pad and tampon commercials not come remotely close to the experience of real menstruation, what’s up with the ads in general? Redditor SnausageFest wants to see some reality. “Don’t show me an active lady out on a hike, at the beach, rock climbing, or something,” she scoffed. “Show me the lady who just got off the train to work and had a surprise sneeze [and] the lady who just got out of bed. Show me the lady who was fine until she stood up [and] the lady who laughed a little too hard at that joke.” 

9. Online dating 

Dating online can feel like a minefield, with highly edited photos, exaggerated profiles, and even outright lies. Reddit user Laterdude wants some truth in advertising. “Show a lonely guy constantly editing his profile and adding a little personalization to his form letter,” he suggested. “Then he attempts to master timer function on camera for the all important candid photo. [End with a] close-up on a shot of an empty inbox.” If you find yourself picking up what he puts down, try these tips for more successful love-finding online. 

10. Boxed hair color 

Those little swatches never look like the color inside the box. Forget the model on the front of it. Redditor Lettiadash works at a store that sells hair color, and she confirmed the baloney. “All the ads and posters show models with lots of highlights and lowlights or really light blondes, basically color you know took hours and a lot of money to achieve,” she said. “Then the customers point to the pictures and say ‘What color is this? I want that one,’ as if they can just buy a box of it and go slap it on their hair and have it turn out like that while only paying $7. They can’t wrap their head around it when I try to explain to them it’s not how it works.” A word to the wise: Multi-dimensional hair color takes a professional. 

11. American military ads  

StarsBarsandPBRs hates to break it to you, but American military commercials do not accurately portray the experience. “Yeah, every single person who enlists is gonna be a fighter pilot or devgru operator,” he wrote sarcastically. Tromboneofsteel added that, “It’s a running joke in the air force. Raking leaves because NCO told you to? ‘It’s not science fiction, it’s what we do every day.’ Can’t open a case? ‘There’s strong, and then there’s air force strong!’” Before you enlist, make sure you make an educated decision. 

12. Toy companies 

Maybe their target audience of gullible children has to do with it. Or maybe we just grew up and got cynical. But toys just do not look as good in real life, Chocolatethun-da lamented. Do yourself a favor: Check out the toy in person before you buy it. At the very least, read some reviews. 

13. Perfume and cologne 

Why don’t perfume commercials tell you what it really smells like? Redditor LX_Emergency said, “I love me some perfume and cologne, but the ads are all ‘Smells like a summer evening at the beach with the horses neighing softly in the background.’” Sometimes, the user noted, the notes do not even appear on the packaging. Perfume companies: Our noses beg of you. Please do not be that guy

 14. Toilet paper 

If you have a TV, you have seen this commercial. As Xterraguy describes it, “Mom looks for skid marks while the kids are visible outside playing while wearing no underwear or any other clothing. In fact, you never see any bear wearing clothes, but they do laundry.” Really sells the paper, doesn’t it? Slate explains that using animals and babies to advertise toilet paper began in the 1950s, and continues today. Creatures like puppies and bears supposedly denote softness, although bear fur does not rank as particularly pet-able. 

15. The internet, in general 

Redditor Ptenbob lamented a fact we all live with every day. “The internet has specifically told me that there are indeed Hot Singles Living in my Area,” they noted. “The internet surely wouldn’t lie to me, right? I mean, if it wasn’t true, then the internet police would go and arrest the website, right?” Right, Ptenbob. Right.

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