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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Advertising
Start Cola Earlier, says the Soda Pop Board of America — At first glance, this appears to be a vintage ad by the "Soda Pop Board of America" extolling the virtues of drinking cola at an early age. It's been circulating around the internet for quite a while, during which time many sites have angrily responded to the claims made in the ad. For instance, the Queen Anne Chiropractic Center declared that the ad demonstrates "just how wicked the Mad Men of yesteryear were." The parenting blog babble.com wrote: "We all know that, on occasion,…
Posted: Thu Apr 26, 2012.   Comments (11)

F*** The Diet? — Many people thought this was too weird to be true, but apparently it's real. Multinational mega-corporation Unilever is running an ad campaign in Germany for its "Du Darfst" line of food products that features the English slogan "Fuck the Diet!" It's kinda like if McDonalds were to unveil "Fuck Eating Healthy" as its new ad slogan. A Unilever spokesperson offered this explanation: "Although the current Du Darfst campaign has become a bit of a talking point in Germany -- as effective…
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012.   Comments (5)

Those French beaches look great, because they’re really in Hawaii — France's tourism agency has been embarrassed after it's been revealed that a whole series of photos it's been using to promote French beaches don't actually show French locations at all. They're stock photos, taken in Hawaii and South Africa, in the background of which the tourism agency sometimes photoshopped sections of French coastline. It seems stupid since France has some great scenery, but the tourism agency was apparently too cheap to hire a photographer to take photos of any of…
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012.   Comments (0)

Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act — On April 1st of this year, hundreds of thousands of men with mustaches are going to gather in Washington, DC to demand tax equity for Mustached Americans. They're hoping to persuade Congress to adopt the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act, orĀ STACHE Act. The act would allow Mustached Americans to claim tax deductions for expenses such as: Mustache and beard trimming instruments, mustache wax and weightless conditioning agents, Facial hair coloring products (for men and women…
Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2012.   Comments (0)


The Case of the Monster Slipper — An article recently appeared in various British newspapers telling the story of one Tom Boddingham who ordered a size 14.5 slipper from Monster Slippers. But due to a translation error, the factory in China that makes the slippers sent a size 1450 slipper instead. Polly Curtis at the Guardian thought the story smelled a bit fishy. And with the help of some people on Twitter, she soon figured out that "Tom Boddingham" coincidentally looked identical to Joseph Jennings, the online…
Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2011.   Comments (5)

Live Forever Juice — Live Forever Juice is a fake product that was created for educational purposes by FDAImports, a consulting company that specializes in advising companies how to comply with FDA regulations. The idea was to make a food product whose packaging was full of illegal claims, then walk people through why the claims are illegal. (via: The Food Watchdog). The company handed out samples of Live Forever Juice at a recent trade fair in Baltimore. They also have an accompanying website,
Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2011.   Comments (1)

Twiggy ad ruled misleading — The UK Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that an advertisement featuring Twiggy is misleading. The ad has Twiggy claiming that "Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes." In fact, the brightness of her eyes in the photo is due to digital manipulation. Link: sky.com Real Twiggy Fake Twiggy
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (6)

Mass: We Pray — Mass: We Pray claims to be a new video game that allows you to simulate going to church, without ever leaving home. Shacknews.com reports receiving a press release from Prayer Works Interactive, the maker of this purported product. An excerpt follows: Mass: We Pray is the first of many worship-themed games in development for Prayer Works Interactive. Just like with any videogame, families can use a television as a monitor to play. Then, they can use the CROSS, a proprietary, wireless,…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (9)

Billboards for Submarines, part 2 — I posted two months ago about underwater billboards that Ivar Haglund supposedly placed at the bottom of Puget Sound back in the 1950s in order to advertise his restaurant to submarines. Some suspected a hoax, and it turns out they were right. From the Seattle Times: That story about those Ivar's underwater billboards at the bottom of Puget Sound, supposedly anchored in the mid-1950s?... Fake, fake, fake. The documents were faked on a computer. The billboard was a wooden prop, says Bob…
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (4)

The Case of the Carbolic Smoke Ball — Clive Coleman tells the story for BBC Radio 4 of the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. It was an 1892 case of fraudulent advertising. The case against them is "seen by some as the birth of modern consumer protection": The carbolic smoke ball was a peculiar device marketed as a cure for various ailments including influenza. It consisted of a rubber ball, filled with powdered carbolic acid. You squeezed the ball sending a puff of acidic smoke right up a tube inserted into your nose. The idea…
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (3)

Save On All Jackets! — Random banner ad. (via Reddit)
Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009.   Comments (2)

Billboards for Submarines? — Around 1954 Ivar Haglund anchored billboards to the bottom of Puget Sound. He said that he thought it would be a good way to advertise his restaurant, Ivar's Chowder, to anyone who happened to be passing by in a submarine. The modern-day Ivar's restaurant chain is now raising the billboards from the sea. Or are they? Some suspect a hoax. From the Seattle Times: In the past month, the company has had divers bring up three of the billboards — about 7 by 22 feet and made of stainless…
Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2009.   Comments (3)

Does Farrah Fawcett’s hair spell “SEX” in her famous poster? — In honor of Farrah Fawcett, let's revisit one of the major urban legends of the late 1970s: that the curls of Fawcett's hair, in her famous red-bathing-suit poster, spell out the word "SEX." This legend arose to explain the incredible popularity of the poster, which sold over 12 million copies (by some accounts). It was always a bit of a mystery why that image in particular became such a focus of popular fixation. After all, there were plenty of other posters of scantily clad…
Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009.   Comments (18)

Moms Behaving Badly — A dispute between two young girls escalated into an online fight between the mothers. The mother of one of the girls posted an ad on Craigslist offering sex with men, and listed the phone number of the other girl's mother as the contact. Twenty-two people called the number. The woman has now been charged with aggravated harrassment. [Newsday]
Posted: Mon May 11, 2009.   Comments (2)

Brain Ads — Some woman (who doesn't name herself) has realized that for years people have been reading her mind. "TV shows were following my daily thoughts and stores began bringing products I had been wishing for, it finally dawned on me that they were not just teasing me, they were actually getting more viewers and selling more products!" Instead of fighting this condition, she's decided to accept it and profit from it. For which reason, she's now accepting "brain ads." In return for a donation,…
Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2009.   Comments (7)

Ads Disguised as News Columns — Should the LA Times have run an ad designed to look like a regular news column on its front page? (The ad was for an NBC news show Southland.) Critics, who include quite a few of the paper's own staffers, argue that it crossed a line of journalistic integrity. The paper's defenders point out that all newspapers are losing money nowadays, so whether you like it or not, expect to see more ads disguised as news columns in the future. [Editors Weblog]
Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2009.   Comments (10)

The Airbrushed Asian — When Scottish tourism officials first unveiled the promotional poster for next year's Homecoming Scotland campaign (whose purpose is to get people of Scottish descent to visit the homeland), people looked at it and remarked, "You know, not everyone in Scotland is white." So a second version of the poster was sneaked out, with one small change: an Asian guy had been photoshopped in. (He's on the left side of the bottom image). But most people seem to think the change is even worse than…
Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008.   Comments (10)

Your classmates aren’t looking for you — Classmates.com told Anthony Michaels that former classmates were looking for him. If only he would upgrade to a premium membership, they would put him in touch with his school buddies. So Michaels paid the money. Then he discovered that no one was looking for him. Now he's brought a class-action suit against classmates.com for deceptive advertising. There's a fine line in advertising between what's legal and what's not. "Puffery," which is defined as making exaggerated claims that the…
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2008.   Comments (15)

McCain wins debate that hasn’t happened yet — Apparently John McCain's campaign has access to the same time machine used by the Chinese journalists at Xinhua News who reported the launch of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft (including the astronaut's dialogue) hours before it happened. (See previous post.) McCain's campaign has been running an ad in the Wall Street Journal's online edition declaring that "McCain Wins Debate," which is a bold assertion considering that the debate will only happen tonight. Link: Washington Post
Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008.   Comments (6)

Adventures in Astroturf — Margriet Oostveen describes in Salon.com how she composed phony letters-to-the-editor on behalf of the McCain campaign: The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want -- as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain. "Your letters," says Phil Tuchman, "will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio.…
Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008.   Comments (4)

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