Video

'Life-changing' products all too common in ads

All ads over-promise. But some ads go so far as to promise that a product will literally change your life.

Marketers promise purchases will transform lives

A playful ad campaign from Maple Leaf Foods suggests a frazzled mom's family will be transformed into helpful allies if she feeds them bacon. (Maple Leaf Foods)

All ads over-promise. But some ads go so far as to promise that a product will literally change your life. 

In this ad from Maple Leaf Foods, we see a woman listing the ways her family doesn't help around the house.

One day, she discovers that if she serves bacon, her family miraculously does all their chores without reminders. 

But bacon isn't the only catalyst for meaningful change out there. In this Procter & Gamble ad, we learn of the life-changing properties of Tide detergent and Pantene shampoo.

In our next commercial, we see a woman making eye contact with a man across a crowded restaurant and imagining their life together. Obviously the right toothpaste can transform you from wallflower to wife and mother. 

And to make your new life even more fulfilling, there's this product. Type at the beginning says, "Happiness is not a contest. But if it were, we'd totally win that contest." 

At the end, we see the words "Choose Happy," followed by the Koodo logo. The message — choose the right phone company and your life will be happy.

Why do marketers jump to "life changing" instead of focusing on better coverage, tasty ingredients or improved cleaning power? Because in most categories, all products deliver pretty much the same performance. So rather than appealing to your mind with facts, marketers appeal to your emotions by promising happiness, fulfillment, love — and sometimes, sexiness.

Obviously, a specific brand of truck is being promoted here. But the implication is that guys have more sex appeal when they drive a truck, any truck.

Which inadvertently demonstrates the downside for products that try to stand out by promising to change your life.

As more and more products adopt this strategy, they all end up looking the same again, totally defeating the purpose. That sends ad people scurrying off looking for new ways to differentiate products, so consumers can once again feel justified in buying stuff.


Bruce Chambers is a syndicated advertising columnist for CBC Radio.