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Sir Peter Leitch

How much truth can consumers find in advertising?

How much truth can consumers find in advertising?

Just last night I was stuck in front of the TV watching the news with my wife. During one of the advertising breaks the Mad Butcher (Sir Peter Leitch to you non-Kiwis) popped up to talk about his latest chicken offer. He said he was having a special on Tegel Chicken, which he declared is “New Zealand’s Favourite Chicken”. That got me wondering as to how Tegel and Sir Peter came up with that claim.

I went onto both the Tegel and the Mad Butcher’s website and couldn’t find much to substantiate their claim. Perhaps they got to this conclusion based on how much chicken they produce and sell but having a monopoly on chicken production doesn’t make you the country’s favourite. That’s like claiming that the Northern Motorway from Albany into Auckland is New Zealand’s most popular road just because of the huge volume of traffic on it everyday. Highly illogical. 

Add into this that Tegel is not a New Zealand owned company (they are owned by an Asian-Pacific company called Affinity Equity Partners) and it seems highly dubious that they are indeed “New Zealand’s Favourite”, given how much fuss us Kiwis kick up when it comes to foreign ownership of our land and businesses.

Tegel’s advertising “claims” are nothing new. There are hordes of similar ones out there, from the biggest companies to the smallest. British Airways claims to be “The World’s Favourite Airline”.  Carlsberg Beer jokingly claims to be “probably the best beer in the world” (at least I think they’re joking). Quilton Toilet Paper claim to be "New Zealand's favourite toilet paper" which asks so many questions, especially " how does Quilton know?" Who honestly submits their bum to market research? Who would sit on a loo and test various grades of toilet paper for $15 an hour? Quilton's claim is the most empty of the all the brand promises you're likely to find from now until the end of the world.

The problem is that companies and their advertisers are not obligated to be 100% honest with consumers and there are some that really go out of their way to be dishonest. Sure there are certain controls put in place by the advertising industry but in reality, it is you, the consumer, that has to be 100% certain you believe them. If you’re unhappy with advertising then you shouldn’t support that brand and you should definitely complain, it’s the only way your voice will be heard. However, make sure you complain at the highest level possible. The poor sod working behind the counter for $12 an hour most likely wont give a damn (after all, this isn't his real job) so you need to climb the ladder. Find the Muppet with the Land Rover and let him know what you think. The truth is he/she (if they care) should be happy for the feedback you give them, after all, you can learn so much more from the customers who complain than from those who don't.