Everyone knows that advertising should be taken with a pinch of salt. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Advertisers spin and shade the truth in their favour. But sometimes they go a few steps too far and promote products based on outright falsehoods.
From bogus cancer cures to biologically impossible weight-loss gimmicks, here are the 10 biggest lies ever told in advertising.
Click here to see the 10 biggest lies in advertising >
This post originally appeared at BNET.
Bayer was sued in a class action complaint last year after running TV and radio ads that suggested one of the ingredients in its One A Day vitamin supplement brand prevents prostate cancer.
Vitamins, obviously, don't fight cancer. Bayer eventually paid a fine and signed a legal agreement banning it from claiming vitamins cure cancer last year.
Compared to the viciousness of today's political advertising, President George H.W. Bush's 1988 attack ad on Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis seems calm and level-headed. Dukakis did not in fact create the prison furlough program that allowed Horton to escape (although he didn't end it when he had the chance). That grey area allowed Bush's team to set a new, race-to-the-bottom standard in election advertising: The smear ad.
In 1992, Britons couldn't believe their luck when Hoover began offering a two round-trip flights to Europe for any customer who spent just £100 on any Hoover item. The trouble was, there were no flights as Hoover wasn't expecting the massive response that followed as people snapped up every vacuum cleaner they could find in order to get the free trips.
Bizarrely, Hoover then extended the offer and, infamously, promoted two free trips to the U.S. for every Hoover product purchased. Consumers soon found that in order to claim the tickets, they had to fill in several forms, and mail them to the company, which then sent them more forms, and so on.
Hoover's attempt to renege on its campaign promises made front-page news and a parliamentary inquiry was started. The promotion eventually cost Hoover £48 million. The campaign is one of the biggest advertising fiascos in history.
The Belly Burner belt will not make you lose 60 pounds in 10 weeks, no matter what Entourage star Debi Mazar says. That's six pounds of lost weight per week -- it's physically impossible.
Mazar fails to say whether part of that 60 pounds included the baby she was carrying before decided she wanted to take off her post-partum weight gain.
There are thousands of misleading diet and exercise ads out there and this one isn't particularly special, it's just that these misleading claims don't usually involve stars of the calibre of Mazar.
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