Definition - What does Puffery mean?

Puffery is an exaggeration of fact to inflate the resulting opinion. Widely found in court cases, the main reason for cross-examination is to discern fact from puffery. Evidence is required to be shown for this reason as well, so that courts can determine the truth based on absolute fact rather than conjecture.

Justipedia explains Puffery

Puffery can also refer to a statement or claim that is promotional in nature and that inflates the true efficacy or ability of a product or service.

Marketing and advertising laws are in effect to ensure that companies do not puff up their promotions. A good example is Red Bull: the company was sued and lost the case for falsely claiming that their product gave the consumer wings. All products that advertise are bound by the laws surrounding puffery. Many health products, such as holistic medicines, are closely monitored and not allowed to claim any specific type of efficacy.

Depending on the type of legal case that is taken against a company or person for puffery, the sentence can be severe and is usually a high monetary fine. Television commercials that advertise promotions will often have an asterisk somewhere within the promotion, which denotes that consumers must read the fine print. This is how a company can get around puffery—by ensuring that the full written terms and conditions of any promotion are available.

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