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You Could Save...

 

Analysis > You Could Save...

 

I was on a London underground train recently ('The Tube') and idly scanned the overhead adverts. One, from a well-known insurance company boldly announced:


'You could save up to 200'
 

Wow! Look at that big number! Lets all grab the phone! But hang on a minute. Just look at what is not being said.

'You could' does not mean you will. Qualifiers typically talk about possibility, thus getting around laws on truthfulness. The big four words to look for are 'might', may', 'can' and 'could'. Carslberg lager plays this game well, advertising 'The best beer in the world...possibly'.

'Save' is another pernicious little beast. It lets the advertiser talk about large sums of virtual money as being desirable. You will never receive this money, but somehow it seems like you do. Retail sales frequently make a bigger show about the price cut than the price because they know that 'savings sells'. No matter that the product had its price hiked for a short period to let them make this claim.

'Up to' is another trick that lets them show the maximum savings, no matter that you will save nothing like this amount. The average saved could be much lower, but once they have you on the phone they will be using a whole range of extra tricks.

'200' is also a worry. How did they derive this figure? Savings like this can be plucked out of the air or be very much worse-case examples.

Overall, then, such adverts try very hard to change out minds. But when you can see what they are doing, you can laugh and go elsewhere.

See also

Modifying Meaning, Power Words

 

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