For marketers, brand promotions are quite common. While it is imperative to create higher levels of interest among customers and audience, there are times when certain facts and figures are exaggerated and presented in a twisted manner. Brand promotions come in varied shapes and sizes where marketers look to promote the best features, fix negative perceptions and add versions that would pull in more people.

However, quite recently, a negative marketing move is doing rounds which aims at presenting twisted facts about a service or product— in order to lure customers and boost their interest levels. Better termed as ‘Puffery’— this marketing technique is slowly but steadily penetrating the brand vicinities— causing more harm than good.

Puffery— The Definition

Red Bull doesn’t actually give us wings but Puffery is something that makes this statement look catchy and resonating enough. In simpler terms, Puffery is more of a promotional statement that is subjective in nature and shouldn’t be taken seriously. More often than not, Puffery claims a product to the best in the business and things can readily get unbelievable at times.

However, most customers are wise enough to disregard majority of these claims and the only good thing that comes out of Puffery is the fun associated with the statements. Certain brands include the same as slogans which in turn are accepted gleefully. At the end, it all depends on how someone uses Puffery and to what extent things can be stretched— without breaking the ethical barriers.

Why Puffery Still Works?

There are instances when Puffery has been accepted as a necessary evil. This is one marketing trick that still works well— provided the exaggeration isn’t beyond user comprehension. Certain claims which over-emphasize traits are good to look at while there are instances when the wallet gets enticed hearing about the money which can be saved.

Puffery-driven marketing campaigns are small and less complex. Moreover, the slogans associated with them are tempting enough. It must be understood that restrained or moderated Puffery can work well and once things get out of control— the same concept ends up being considered a scam or rather a false advertising campaign.

Issues like these have already been vindicated under the ‘Lanham Act’ drafted in 1946. However, most companies have recently adjusted strategies in order to comply with the marketing norms. Even then, violations show up which in turn end up in massive lawsuits.

One such example would be the $13 million lawsuit against Red Bull. While it was certainly not against the ‘Gives You Wings’ slogan, this lawsuit aimed at a claim made by the company— stating that drinking the same improves reaction speeds and even the concentration. While this couldn’t be scientifically proven, the company still believes this to be true.

This issue readily brings us to the aspect of false advertising claims and how dangerous it can be to put forth something without generic repercussions. The likes of Red Bull might improve reaction speeds but the results aren’t generic and might just be customer specific. The company did push the envelope a bit too far as more often than not marketers fail to realize what’s the exact quantitative border for advocating claims like these.

How Marketing Automation Encourages Puffery?

Marketing automation stands for a practice that allows marketers to reach a massive audience base without manually segregating contact details. It must be understood that puffery can only thrive if the same set of marketing ideas are pitched to each and every audience. This is where marketing automation, via standard messages, WhatsApp database and other resources can negatively impair a campaign.

For example, if you— as a marketer— are targeting a host of kik online users, it wouldn’t be right to enlist the functionalities of the Android application. Marketers often pitch the same set of options to every user which in turn makes them prone to lawsuits and other penalties. Functionalities for Kik or WhatsApp web users will certainly differ from the Android applications and companies must have specific ideas for specific platforms.

Red Bull automated their marketing campaign and ended up attracting lawsuits. While the caffeine content did work positively on a lot of people, there were many individuals who were least affected by the drink. Therefore, if a company caters to different users in different manners— opting for the same pitch would be considered as a violation or rather an act of puffery.

Reputational Damage

Reputational damage is an after-effect. For example, there is a customer who purchases your product based on your claims that it is the best in the market. However, after making the purchase, he or she realizes that the product doesn’t actually fulfill the expectations. This is where Puffery can have a negative effect of your business.

While the initial sales are taken care of, the brand reputation takes a hit. Puffery, in simpler terms, damages the long-term relationship with customers.


At the end, it all pans down to the marketing vigils and even the customer’s familiarity with products. Knowledgeable individuals know which ideas to ignore and which ones to absorb. Moreover, Puffery is still at large as an effective yet risky marketing play. It needs to be avoided if brands are hoping for long-term benefits and not detrimental lawsuits.