Unless you’re playing Scrabble and use QI or ZA on a triple letter square, two-letter words usually don’t count for much. A consumer perception study released by the FTC suggests that two common two-letter words often used in ads may not have the effect of qualifying product claims that some marketers and copywriters think they have. Any guess what those words are?
The report summarizes the results of a test conducted in conjunction with FTC investigations of five companies that made claims about the energy efficiency of the windows they sold and how much buyers would reduce their heating and cooling bills. On February 22, 2012, the companies settled FTC lawsuits charging them with making unsupported representations in their advertising and marketing — including misleading “up to” claims.
The report offers insights into how the test group interpreted “up to” claims in the ads they were shown. The results reinforce the FTC’s view that advertisers making similar claims should be able to prove that consumers are likely to get the maximum results promised under normal circumstances.
A careful read of the study could help you avoid deception in your own promotions.