I remember a lecture back in an Intro to Advertising class that discussed this issue. The story told was about a man who went to a monster truck rally. The trucks ran over a row of cars and the only car whose frame wasn’t crushed was that of a Volvo. The man wrote Volvo about his experience and said he would now seriously consider purchasing on of their vehicles because of this.
Volvo decided to turn this story into a commercial. During filming an extra witnessed some men reinforcing the Volvo’s frame by welding some heavy duty pieces of metal to the interior of the car, not to be seen by the camera’s. The man called the local news station to report what was going on and naturally the news station showed up and interrogated everyone involved with the commercial. Volvo shut production down and the commercial or any variant was ever aired.
This is a fantastic story of keeping advertisers in check. Unfortunately, we are now bombarded with ads that are totally unrealistic. Dodge Nitro’s can blow up cars, Toyota Tacoma’s are Meteor-Proof, and this stuff can make a 60 year old look like a 20 year old. When did advertising agencies lose their credibility of educating us about a product? Instead, our heads are bashed against the concrete until we give in or simply decide to skip over the commercials with our DVR’s.