For companies, the success of a product is measured by the sales. At the end of the day, that is the only parameter that matters. So, in order to achieve high sales, brands sometimes resort to marketing tactics that offer a deceptive image of the product, but the marketing is so strong that the consumer is easily convinced. We bring you 10 such myths companies started to sell more products.
1. Myth: Ivory soaps are so pure that they float.
Fact: The soap mixture contains air that makes them float. It has nothing to do with purity.
Ivory is one of the most popular soap brands in the world. Most of us know it as the brand that makes floating soaps. They have repeatedly claimed that their soap is 99.44% pure, and its immense purity makes it float.
But purity has nothing to do with the ability of the Ivory soaps to float. What happens is that during the production of the soap, measures are taken to ensure that air is inserted into the soap mixture. When the final product is ready, it consists of tiny air bubbles within it. These air bubbles work together to make the soap slightly less dense than water which, in turn, makes the soap float. This also serves another purpose of producing more bubbly lather. Nonetheless, the floating soap advertisement increased sales by a large margin. (1, 2)
2. Myth: Alka-Seltzer instructed consumers to use two tablets instead of one for more efficiency in treatment.
Fact: It was just a step to increase sales. There was no medical evidence provided in the advertisement.
Alka-Seltzer is the tablet that one takes while suffering from acid reflux or indigestion. During the 1960s, Alka-Seltzer was mostly purchased by elderly folks and there were not many buyers from the American youth. The advertisement strategies earlier undertaken by Alka-Seltzer did not appeal to the younger generation. The ads primarily showed elderly people who drank and ate too much and, in turn, suffered from acid reflux.
To stop sales from dwindling, the company hired the Tinker & Partners advertising agency to create new advertisements to attract more buyers. Tinker & Partners created a series of 16 advertisements, one of which just showed two Alka-Seltzer tablets being dropped into a crystal glass of water. The advertisement promoted the use of two Alka-Seltzer tablets rather than one to treat acid reflux. This is where the famous phrase “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” originated.
3. Myth: Healthy teeth are supposed to be extremely white.
Fact: The whiteness of teeth doesn’t determine their health.
Whenever a mouth hygiene product is promoted, the key emphasis is laid on the whiteness of the teeth. The advertisements primarily imply that whiter the teeth the better health they are in. Most toothpaste brands and mouthwashes stick to this strategy. But is it really important for teeth to be extremely white?
The color of one’s teeth depends on its intrinsic color which is influenced by the person’s age and genes. It also depends on the type of food being consumed and lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, medications, etc. Moreover, as a person gets older, their teeth become yellower as the enamel begins to tear away and the dentine beneath is exposed. So, all those advertisements claiming sparkly white teeth are a sign of health are just marketing stunts. (source)
4. Myth: Nutella products are healthy alternatives.
Fact: Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar per serving. Half the 200 calories in a two-tablespoon serving come from fat.
Nutella is the heartthrob of many foodies. It has been widely marketed as being a “healthy alternative.” This chocolatey, hazelnut spread is the go-to spread on bread for many people. So, it was obvious that being marketed as a healthy and delicious alternative would lead to tremendous sales.
A simple glance at the Nutella label can determine how healthy the product is. The first ingredient that goes into the production of Nutella is sugar, followed by palm oil. One teaspoon of Nutella contains 21 grams of sugar. Moreover, taking just two tablespoons amounts to 200 calories half of which comes from fat. Basically, its the next best thing to consuming a candy bar. (1, 2)
5. Myth: Furbies can “learn” English if they are spoken to in the language.
Fact: They are pre-programmed to speak English after being used for a certain amount of time. They do not “learn” anything, per se.
Furby is a robotic toy that was introduced in the US in 1998. The toy became a must-have for kids. Within just three years, over 40 million Furbies were sold. The primary reason why the Furbies became so famous was their apparent intelligence. When the toys are operated, they speak in a gibberish kind of language. The creators claim that over time, with exposure to more talking with the children, the Furbies develop language skills. Basically, if your kid continues to interact with the toy, it would start speaking in the English language! That was how the product was marketed, and the numbers they achieved in sales are quite impressive!
In reality, the marketing of the Furbies is quite misleading. They do not actually “learn” anything. These toys are pre-programmed to start speaking in English once they have been used for a pre-defined number of times. For example, if they have been turned on for a certain number of times, then they will start saying the word “hello.” Eventually, they will start speaking more English words. But if a Furby bought in the US is taken to China, it does not mean that the toy will start saying “ni-hao.” They have to be pre-programmed to talk in Chinese for such a thing to occur. (1, 2)
6. Myth: Postum, a coffee substitute, claimed that coffee was bad for health.
Fact: There is no scientific evidence behind the claims. It was just a promotional stunt.
In the 1900s, a new coffee alternative was on the market introduced by C.W. Post. Known as “Postum,” it was advertised as a caffeine-free, coffee alternative. Mark Pendergrast, the author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World says, “Postum made C.W. Post a fortune, and he became a millionaire from vilifying coffee and saying how horrible it was for you. The Postum advertisers had all kinds of pseudoscientific reasons that you should stay away from coffee.” Some of the health problems caused by coffee, according to Postum, were indigestion, nerve issues, and deterioration of the kidney and heart function.
Moreover, they also advertised that coffee should never be fed to kids as that would stunt their growth. The advertisements spread like wildfire and before anyone could oppose them, and not serving coffee to kids became ensconced in America’s culture. There was no scientific evidence, whatsoever! (source)
7. Myth: Leaded gasoline is safe.
Fact: Leaded gasoline was a cause of lead poisoning.
The concept of adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline was devised by Thomas Midgley, a chemist. He was so sure of its safety that in a demonstration, he dipped his hands in a container containing tetraethyl lead. “I’m not taking any chance whatever. Nor would I… doing that every day,” he said. So it was not a surprise when Midgley suffered from lead poisoning.
Many workers who worked at the oil companies who began to put lead in their gasoline idea had to suffer from serious lead poisoning. At a Standard Oil plant in New Jersey, 35 of the 49 workers had to be hospitalized. Few of them even lost their lives. When General Motors first pitched the idea of adding lead to gasoline, scientists were alarmed as they were quite aware of the consequences. So, General Motors funded a government department to conduct some research which announced that lead was safe.
It took a long time for the government to build regulations around the use of lead in gasoline. It’s similar to the case of tobacco. We all know that tobacco is harmful to health but strict regulations were slow in coming. (source)
8. Myth: Clover is a weed that should not be a part of a lawn.
Fact: Clover was branded as a weed to increase the sale of weed-killing chemicals.
Before World War II, clover was part of a typical lawn in American households. Clover seeds were available for purchase and were added to grass mixes for their exceptional botanical qualities. In reality, clover belongs to the legume family. They have the ability to make their own nitrogen and even fix the soil. They do not require any additional nitrogen fertilizer and also supply nitrogen to nearby plants. Plus, they can exist even during droughts.
But people today do not want them on their lawns all thanks to the chemical manufacturers. After the World War II, there was the development of suburbs and the landscape professionals created an ideology around perfect lawns that consisted of only turf grasses. Moreover, people were naive towards chemical companies. So, it did not take much longer for chemical manufacturers to convince people that clover was bad. They had to be removed in order to achieve that perfect lawn. (source)
9. Myth: Toning shoes, such as Skechers Shape-Ups, helps to burn calories and tone up the body.
Fact: These shoes are not the fitness solution they claim they are.
Toning shoes advertise themselves as the quick-and-easy fitness solutions that everyone is looking for. “Unfortunately, these shoes do not deliver the fitness or muscle-toning benefits they claim,” says a member of the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The statement was based on a study organized by the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Another study was organized by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. They studied the muscle usage at different points of the body in two groups of women—one group wearing the toning shoes while the other wearing normal shoes. There was no significant difference in calories burned or muscle usage in both the groups.
The companies that developed these kinds of shoes were able to convince people of its benefits due to the soreness caused when one first wears the toning shoes. These shoes have unstable sole designs which lead to temporary soreness. This is the reason most people feel like they have burned more calories. Also, wearing special toning shoes might motivate people to work out more, thus giving them an impression that the calories burned are a result of the shoes! (source)
10. Myth: “Water memory” is used to sell homeopathy products. The scientists claim that water can remember a substance mixed in it after the substance has been removed making the water therapeutic.
Fact: Homeopathy is completely based on placebo effect.
Homeopathy is based on concepts that are beyond logical reasoning. This healing technique is based on a belief known as “water memory.” As the name suggests, the scientists believe that water has memory. Water has the ability to remember a substance mixed into it even after the substance has been removed. This ability makes water therapeutic. Homeopathy is entirely based on this belief. The medicine is added to water and diluted for more than 30 times. This means that there exists only one molecule of medicine in a million trillion molecules of water. How is that suppose to help one heal?