Here in Sweden, advertising rules are fairly strict. No advertising to children. No cigarette or alcoholic beverage ads on tv. And no false claims, such as “Dr.Pepper is the best drink in the world!” They also took L’Oreal to court for claiming one of their products removed wrinkles, since that’s not actually possible.
I realize this is strict, but other things are more open than you would think. However, some people tend the stretch the definition of false advertising and I can only imagine how many complaints the agency maintaining these rules receives.
One such complaint was in the opinion section of the local “Metro” paper on Friday. A woman complained that a milk company had violated false advertising laws in their tv commercial because the woman in the commercial walks around a farm with the cows and says, “These are my co-workers.”
The complainer then went on to state that in no way could those cows be employees because they don’t get vacation time, pay or holidays off. Therefore the commercial should be removed from the air.
I don’t think there are any plans for that but her letter certainly made my day.
Employee benefits for cows!
Even though I’ve lived in Sweden for almost 17 years now, I still see many commercials through the eyes of an American laughing hysterically at weird “foreign” ads. But honestly, how can I not when things like this are common?
This is an ad for a glassses company.
And this is an ad for a mobile phone company.
I’ve been doing some translating work on beauty products this week and thought I would share with you how tricky it can be at times.
This particular company has a translating system that already uses a program with a few mistakes I have to correct. Sometimes it’s close and sometimes I get things like this:
“This perfume has scents of lavender, daffodil and fox.”
“Nike Butt roll-on for the active man!”
Honestly, it says ‘But roll-on’ because “men” in Swedish is “but,” however, it’s hard not to read the product as a roll-on for butts every time I see it. New idea for a product? You heard it here first!
Yesterday, I wrote about false advertising. Looking up the most famous examples took me down a wonderful rabbit hole of the worst offenders. It made me laugh, so I thought I’d share the best examples with you:
Yesterday, I got into a heated discussion with my son about how it’s possible for KFC to have so many secret spices. My son insisted the commercial he saw in the U.S. claimed Kentucky Fried Chicken had 17 secret spices in their batter (I’ve since discovered it’s 11). To him, this was blatant false advertising. His argument was that products can have one secret ingredient but to have 17 (or 11) is completely ludicrous.
While I’m glad my children recognize these commercials in the U.S. as exaggerating and occasionally outright lying (“Mac & Cheese – a great source of calcium!”), it does get exhausting trying to explain marketing and how companies get away with things. While standards aren’t perfect here, there are many more laws in Sweden about advertising that make American advertising “laws” quite laughable.
In Sweden, companies are not even allowed to advertise toward children under the age of 12. In the U.K., advertisements must not ‘exhort children to purchase or to ask their parents or others to make enquiries or purchases’.
This is quite different from advertisements in the U.S., which are very much directed at young children to pester their parents into using a product, my best example being a few years ago when my children saw a Chuck E. Cheese commercial in Texas and then told us, “This says the coolest parents take their kids to Chuck E. Cheese. Why aren’t you guys cool parents?”
To come around to the original KFC subject, let me share something that I found interesting:
Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation in 1964, and the gravy recipe was changed in the 1970s. Colonel Sanders was quite disappointed, stating “My God, that gravy is horrible. They buy tap water for 15 to 20 cents a thousand gallons and then they mix it with flour and starch and end up with pure wallpaper paste. And I know wallpaper paste, by God, because I’ve seen my mother make it. … There’s no nutrition in it and they ought not to be allowed to sell it. … crispy recipe is nothing in the world but a damn fried doughball stuck on some chicken.”
Now THAT’s truth in advertising!
When’s the last time you listened to AM Radio in East Texas? … Well that’s too long!
Commercials on AM Radio are the funniest thing out there. In addition to the poor quality, the subject matter of the area will make you laugh so hard you’ll have to pull to the side of the road. Let me give you two real examples of commercials we heard while listening to AM Radio:
1. Big Lou’s Term Life Insurance. You should buy life insurance from Big Lou because, “Big Lou. He’s just like you….. He’s on meds too.”
2. “Cowboy Catheter” A commercial for a personal catheter is always uncomfortable and difficult to listen to, but I had no idea there were catheters for every personality type! In this commerical, an old cowboy discusses why his cowboy catheter works for his cowboy lifestyle.
And BONUS! I just typed Cowboy Catheter into Google and there’s a video!