Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weasel Words: Half-Hearted Claims

Watching TV with my five-year-old daughter last night, we saw an ad for Yoplait yogurt. It's the one with the cynical bridesmaids. Perhaps you've seen it. The spot opens with two bridesmaids, relaxing and grubbing down on some yogurt after the wedding.

"This yogurt is not-catching-the-bridal-bouquet good."
"It's burning this ugly bridesmaid dress good."
It's getting out of these uncomfortable shoes good."

And so it goes. Not the best I've seen. Not the worst, by any means. At the end, it goes to a white screen with text and narration: "Yoplait may improve digestion."

Immediately, my daughter says, "Daddy that was stupid. They should know whether it improves digestion or not. That's their job to figure that out. Why would they say, 'may improve'?"

Good catch, Chloe! She identified a half-hearted claim. Her ear caught the weasel words. Children do not accept weasel words. Why do we, as adults, let them slide by in our world of communications?

Marketing geniuses know to avoid weasel words, such as might, may, can, if and perhaps; focus instead on certain terms. Say what your product or service will do, not what it might.

PS - Check your proposals and sales literature, also, for weasel words.

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Anonymous Rob said...


Great post. I too believe that these kinds of weasel words are confusing and weak.

One reason you see these kinds of words on foods and food supplements is because the FDA regulates certain "disease mitigation" claims. If Yoplait says it's product definitely improves digestion, they must prove it in massive FDA-regulated clinical trials (like those that new drugs must complete). The cost would run into the millions, even hundreds of millions. Probably not worth the effort.

I think Yoplait would be better off leaving out the claim altogether. But if they have to put it in, it will generally be in weasely legal terms.


8:03 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Rob- Great comments! Thanks for sharing your ideas and perspectives, expanding on this blog topic.

Your input is greatly valued and much appreciated. Hope you'll continue to visit Marketing Genius.


10:33 AM


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