Awhile ago I wrote about Advertisements and Logical Fallacies. It was basically just an overview, but this time I thought I'd list some of the actual fallacies in advertising. No matter where we go, we're bombarded with advertising and marketing. While companies have to follow the letter of the law and be "truthful" there are loopholes and ways to avoid following the spirit of the law.
This is part of a series on Logical Fallacies.
People are highly suggestible. That's just the way it is. I'm a skeptic and I still fall prey to suggestibility. Usually I catch myself and then put on my critical thinking cap, but it happens to the best of us. The fact that companies (anyone using a marketing campaign, including governments) go out of their way to trick us into buying their stuff, meaning that more than ever we have to be critical thinkers in our everyday lives.
Ad Hominem: often used in political campaigns where some character flaw is brought up. If it doesn't have anything to do with their ability to do their job, it's irrelevant, and therefore a logical fallacy.
Appeal to Emotion: any emotion can be exploited. If they manipulate your feelings of sympathy, sexuality, anger, fear, love, pity, pride, flattery, wishful thinking, ignorance, etc., the company then snags you. You make a decision based on that feeling. No logic or real benefit is addressed. This is a type of Red Herring.
The Bandwagon: everyone else is doing it or buying it so you should too. But that is irrelevant. Even if 99 people in 100 buy X toothpaste, it doesn't mean X toothpaste is a good product. It just means the company is good at marketing. Do your research!
False Dilemma: The either-or fallacy: Only two options are given when in fact others are there but not mentioned. This is black and white thinking. A company makes it sound like you have to choose between one of two extremes, and their product or service is the only choice you could make because the other is awful. In fact usually there is a range of choices or a continuum of how the situation works, not just the two extremes. And they may not even be mutually exclusive as shown.
Appeal to Fear: An appeal to emotion, this is common in politics and marketing. Deception and propaganda are used in an attempt to increase your fear and prejudice toward the competitor. The False Dilemma is implied, because if A is scary then B is offered as your only alternative.
Hasty Generalization: Making a decision based on insufficient evidence. Often there is a broad conclusion using statistics of a small group even thought it fails to represent the whole population.
Red Herring: A diversionary tactic. Bringing an argument up in response to another argument which does not address the real issue. Usually there is an appeal to emotion in there as well. There are many kinds of red herring arguments. Some used in advertising would be Appeal to Tradition, Style over Substance, Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, Appeal to Authority, and many more.
Appeal to Tradition: An idea is deemed correct based on the correlation with some past or present tradition. Basically, this is right because it's always been done this way. Two assumptions are made: the old way of thinking was proven correct when it was introduced (when in fact this may be false), and the past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present (but the circumstances may have changed).
Appeal to Authority: Saying something is true because a perceived authority figure says it's true. This is the opposite of the ad hominem argument because the arguer is appealing to positive characteristics of the person to support their argument. A classic example is a person in a lab coat. The person is probably an actor, but they appear to be a scientist so whatever they say must be true. Another example is a business suit. If someone has a nice suit on, it doesn't mean they are experts at anything.