"[I]t proudly proclaims itself as a no-iron shirt. But no-iron shirts always come out of the package wrinkled up like old pieces of Reynolds Wrap, and apart from sending them off to the cleaner’s, the only option is to try to iron all of that out. But no-iron shirts resist ironing. That’s what "no-iron" means, you know: not that the shirt doesn’t need ironing, but that the shirt can’t be ironed."So you've invented a new product that does exactly what it's intended to do, but it has only one teeny tiny infinitesimal flaw: it doesn't do the one thing everyone expects it will. Or it can't be used in the one way everyone will assume it's meant to be used. So what do you do? You turn that frown upside down and spin that flaw into an asset! Those thin, brittle serrated knives that can't be sharpened suddenly "never need sharpening". Those silicone oven mitts that fall apart in the washing machine "clean up with plain water - no detergent needed!" And so on. Allows the advertiser to show people Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket attempting to sharpen knives, etc. and failing miserably. Compare and contrast Our Product Sucks, where product flaws are described more honestly, and Good Bad Bugs, which is (generally) a software and gaming trope when a bug makes its way into the game, isn't picked up or fixed by the developers, but eventually becomes useful for some reason. Also compare Asbestos-Free Cereal, when the advertisement is trying to sell the product on trumped-up claims that are technically true but also insignificant in the first place. See also Deliberate Flaw Retcon, when the creator of an artistic work claims that flaws in the work were actually put in there intentionally. See also Polish the Turd and Damned by Faint Praise.
- The granddaddy of all such products was the Ginsu Knife, which was advertised as "never needs sharpening". The implication was that they never went dull, which was only technically true. Most Ginsus broke or rusted long before they dulled. And if they did last long enough to go dull (about a year), they were so heavily serrated that they literally couldn't be sharpened, or at least not without more difficulty than buying a new knife.
- Miracle Blade uses the same phrase for the same reason. They also spin the thinness of the blade in an attempt to muddle the concepts of sharpness and thinness in viewers' minds. Chef Tony can slice food more thinly than you can because he's more experienced and practiced doing that for the routine, not because his knife is thinner than yours. Thin blades wear out more quickly and can even snap during use, sending shards of sharp metal flying around the place and possibly into your food (if not worse places). Sure, thinness and sharpness actually are linked... but only for the actual cutting edge. One reason that obsidian has long been a favored material for cutting implements is the fact that it's relatively easy to make incredibly thin, sharp edges on it, and this is also the principle behind the common science-fiction concept of monomolecular blades. As mentioned above, the downside is that it's difficult for such a thin edge to actually remain sharp for long... and also as mentioned above, making the rest of the blade thin has entirely negative effects on the structure.
- Ceramic kitchen knives also fall under this category. Depending on the quality of the ceramic used, they can very easily shatter, especially when attempting to flatten something using the blade turned sideways (garlic cloves are often prepared this way), though the packaging and/or the care instructions usually mention that you really shouldn't be using it for tasks that require lots of bending (like cutting cheese or smashing garlic cloves) or going through bone. The cutting edge can also be easily chipped and nicked. It's not that they never need sharpening, but that they can't be sharpened, at least not without a diamond-impregnated grinding wheel that's difficult to find outside of a machine shop, though better manufacturers will provide sharpening services on their blades for a small fee (usually shipping plus a minuscule labor charge).
- For cheap pocket and/or utility knives, it's not uncommon to see "surgical steel" used as a selling point. Obviously, the intended takeaway is that the knife is great because it's made from the same type of steel as a surgeon's scalpel, but savvy buyers know to steer clear of these knives because a scalpel is strictly used for the low-torque job of cutting soft tissue, and most modern scalpel blades are designed to be single-use and disposable. As such, they use very inexpensive, brittle steel; not the sort you'd want any practical utility knife to be made from.
- The Ove-Glove is mainly marketed using the Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket method, but they also claim that the glove "doesn't need washing - just rinse and go!" One review of the Ove-Glove on YouTube points out that if you get the glove dirty enough that it needs to be washed, there's not much you can do - water alone won't remove any grease stains, and the glove falls apart in the washing machine.
- My Lil Reminder, a small voice recorder, says it's "unobtrusive" and "won't bother the people sitting around you" - likely because the volume on the product is so low that you probably won't hear it either.
- The Pasta Pro, a big pasta pot with a lid that doubles as a colander, proudly advertises that the lid locks on tight so you won't scald yourself due to the lid falling off. Sounds like a great idea — one less dish to wash — but some reviewers have reported that the lid isn't "locking on" so much as it's warping. It sticks so badly that it won't come off when the pot is hot. Of course, attempting to pry the lid off carries a very high risk of burns. Other manufacturers have improved upon the idea with better results.
- Dyson vacuum cleaners. The last infomercial contained a testimonial from a young man who looked to be about thirty years old, stating that "every Dyson he'd ever owned" worked great. He was on his fifth Dyson and he loved it. Sounds like a great testimonial, but think about it for a moment: a thirty-year-old man who has owned five vacuums must be replacing his vacuum every two years. This is not a mobile phone or a laptop that needs to be upgraded regularly because newer versions explicitly have better technology; it's a vacuum. The exact same model of vacuum as the last one. All it does is suck up dirt. There is no reason to buy a new one unless the old one breaks down and can't be repaired. A vacuum costing what a Dyson does should last between twenty and thirty years. So why is this guy on his fifth vacuum?
- Dysons "never lose suction!" as long as you don't overfill them (which actually is user error, since the dirt tank is see-through for this very reason). There is nothing but "cyclones of air" protecting the motor vents; if you overfill, then dirt will suction directly onto and into them.
- Any kitchen implement that "cleans up in a snap - a quick rinse and you're ready to go!" is probably not dishwasher-safe. If it were, they'd say "just stick it in the dishwasher and you're ready to go!"
- Eggies were designed to eliminate the difficult and time-consuming task of peeling hard-boiled eggs. It's true that pouring raw eggs into individual plastic molds and boiling those does eliminate peeling, but oiling and assembling each Eggie by hand (each is made up of four fiddly little pieces), getting the raw eggs through the small holes on the top of the Eggies, and cleaning them afterwards takes twice the time that peeling the eggs would have. Reviewers also found that the Eggies aren't really nonstick (you have to wipe each individual piece with an oil-soaked paper towel before assembling them), plus they leak egg white into the water, meaning the user has to scrub out the pot. Dang, if only eggs came in waterproof, individual cases...note
- A commercial for a brand of tea touts the health benefits of drinking more water, then lets its viewers know that women who drink their tea get more water than those who drink the leading brand. How one brand of tea can contain more water than another is left as an exercise to the reader. Perhaps anyone who drinks their tea feels the need to wash it down with water afterwards. If it's bottled tea, as opposed to bags or an instant tea mix, it is presumably rather diluted.
- Commercials for the PSP Go touted "download-only" as a selling point. What this means is that the PSP Go lacks a UMD drive: if you "upgrade" to a Go, then your entire existing PSP library is useless, apart from whatever games you've already bought for download. In addition to forcing you to buy your physical games a second time, the vast majority of PSP titles never became available as downloads, leaving... unauthorized firmware as your only option to play them on a Go.
- Natural fiber yarns are dyed in "lots". Knitters have to be careful that all the yarn they buy for a specific project is from the same dye lot or there could be a noticeable difference in colour after washing. Manufacturers of cheap scratchy acrylic yarn are now advertising that their product is superior because it has no inconvenient dye lots. That's because acrylic isn't dyed per se: the manufacturers simply add the dye to the petrochemical goo they make the yarn from. In some cases, no-dye-lot yarn is still dyed in lots: the manufacturer just doesn't bother to keep track of them. Hope you like your blue sweater with one green sleeve.
- An urban legend goes that white salmon had a tough time competing in the marketplace against the more desirable pink salmon until one clever company started advertising its white salmon with the tagline "Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can". Not to be outdone, a just-as-clever pink salmon company started advertising with the tagline "No bleach added in processing."
- Frank and Ernest occasionally has fun with this in Sunday strips, with Frank looking over an advertisement Ernie has written, pointing out issues or missed points regarding his advertised item along the way, and Ernie promptly explaining how his advertisement has spun these issues into alleged positives. For instance, a run-down theater whose roof is missing is referred to as "the place to see the stars" (because you can see stars through the open roof at night).
- Of course, estate agents have been doing this for years. No, that house isn't small, it's... cozy! That one isn't over a kebab shop on a main road with 24/7 traffic, it's "moments away from local amenities"! Basement suite? No, it's "bright"!
Marge Simpson: It's dilapidated!
Lionel Hutz: "Rustic."
Marge Simpson: But that one's on fire!
Lionel Hutz: ...Motivated seller!
- Similarly, on Will & Grace, Grace was translating an apartment want ad: "Cozy" means "Tiny," "Chelsea-adjacent" meant "New Jersey," and "Regularly maintained" meant "The Super hoses blood off the sidewalk every morning."note
- "Freakonomics" also had a section comparing real positive features about houses and negative features described positively. In particular, if a house is described as being well maintained, that means it has a history of needing a lot of maintenance, probably because it is badly built.
- There was an extended sequence of this running over 3 full strips in Ow, my sanity where protagonist Dave and Eldritch Abomination Nancy are looking for a place to stay.
Nancy: What about this one?
Dave: No good. See this here? Easy access to basement? Means there's a hole in the floor.
Nancy: Close to the woods?
Dave: Bats roost in the attic.
Nancy: Easy heating and cooling?
Dave: Removed the asbestos. Didn't put in new insulation.
Nancy: Private atrium?
Dave: Hole in the ceiling.
Nancy: Rustic scenery?
Dave: In Dunwich.
- The advertising for MST3K-riffed Beginning of the End proclaimed loudly how "No stop motion animation was used to create the giant grasshopper effects!"... when zooming in on regular-sized grasshoppers climbing over photographs works about as well as you might expect.
- The credits of the Pixar movie Ratatouille included the claim "No motion capture! Only genuine animation used!" — probably as a Take That! at The Polar Express.
- In the world of software, you might hear the phrase "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" or "unintended feature." Though occasionally there are actual features which some people misinterpret as bugs. For instance, a clunky interface may be organized better in an update, which is good for most people but bad for the old-school types that already memorized the clunky version. The latter group may complain of a "bug" that changed the interface. Anyone who has ever worked in computer tech support can tell you stories of people complaining of bugs or "bad hardware" that was simply caused by one option incorrectly set in a program. Sometimes the "bug" you experience is the computer doing exactly what you told it to do but didn't understand precisely what you asked it to do.
- Those commercials for Goldline that you see Fox News and Glenn Beck advertising insist that, since the entire world will soon be descending into poverty-driven madness, you should trade in all of your soon-to-be-worthless cash for their delicious, shiny gold. They don't bother mentioning that since they're taking in all the paper money, they're driving themselves into the future, gold-driven poorhouse. That's because actually, they're making money by pretending to be gold brokers, trading cash for gold near the current rate, when they're really selling gold at a huge markup. There's been some Senate inquiries into this. While the price of gold probably is going to go down and isn't that great an investment, if you wish to buy gold anyway, check the current price of gold online so when you go to buy it, you aren't suckered by someone offering it to you at three times what the market says it's worth.
One has to wonder if they have a partnership with the exact opposite companies like "Cash 4 Gold" who are urging you to send in your unwanted gold, silver, platinum, or whatever jewelry and get cash in return... with, of course, the company you're sending your jewelry to deciding on exactly how much cash you get in return. It's actually quite hilarious on the occasions when commercials for these two types of companies air sequentially. South Park played that exact scenario in one episode. It also relies on people buying into the misconception that gold has an inherent value, so that in a potential post-apocalyptic scenario they will have reliably precious gold on hand instead of "worthless paper". In actuality, should civilization go belly-up, gold could be just as worthlessnote . Besides, everyone knows the universal currency of Post-Apocalyptia will be bottlecaps.
- Speaking of Fallout, New Vegas goes into exactly what makes currency valuable. In that instance, genuine caps are valuable because of how they were machined, colored, etc, while paper money printed by the New California Republic is not as valuable as the amount of caps it's supposed to represent, since not too many people in the Mojave use it, defaulting to caps until NCR dollars become backed by the cap enough to be of equal value. Pre-war money and caps trade at a one-to-one exchange because the markings are what make them valuable to post-apocalypse America; the numbers don't mean shit now that the American gold standard is no more. This is also the whole point of the gold standard, X amount of Country A's currency is worth this amount in gold, thus giving it it's value. Counterfeit money is not backed by the standard, thus making it worthless.
- The Orangina drink had an unfortunate habit of separating out into two unappealing looking layers. Hence its advertising slogan "Shake the bottle, wake the drink".
- The Original Mattress Factory used to run ads accusing other mattress companies of doing this by advertising mattresses that "never needed turning" because they only worked in one orientation.
- Dilbert lampshaded this by Dogbert borrowing the Selsun Blue catchphrase of "It tingles, so I know it's working" with his beer ad of "My head hurts, so I know it's working."
- Similarly, one The Truth ad did a similar jab in their mockumercial for a pimple remover.
Girl #1: It burns a little.
Girl #2: It's just doing its job.
Girl #1: Guys, it's really burning! (falls over, promptly catches fire as the other two flee the room)
- Manufacturers add tingling agents to acne and dandruff medications mainly because consumers expect these products to tingle. Unfortunately, tingling is a sign that the product is irritating the skin and, in the process, making the underlying condition much worse. Menthol is by far the most common culprit.
- Similarly, one The Truth ad did a similar jab in their mockumercial for a pimple remover.
- Played with in Monty Python's string sketch, in which the product is string, precut into 3-inch-long segments: "THE NOW STRING! READY CUT, EASY TO HANDLE, SIMPSON'S INDIVIDUAL EMPEROR STRINGETTES - JUST THE RIGHT LENGTH!"
- Atlantic City casinos are advertised as 'the place where the most winning is done'. The odd wording intentionally masks that despite how much 'winning' is done, there isn't a margin of profit from the wins. If they are merely boasting exceptionally high player traffic, it may also be accurate to say those casinos are the place where the most losing is done. And here's an alternative interpretation: they never say that the winning is being done by the customers.
- Another interpretation is they never say how much you'll be winning. You could lose a thousand dollars on the slots...and then hit a minor jackpot and win...a thousand dollars. That's still winning, but in reality, you've broke even, you're right back where you started.
- Bowflex does this. Unlike an actual lifting weight, the resistance is not linear throughout the range of motion, which various people pointed out and slammed them over. So they started advertising it as featuring "progressive resistance".
- After the Internet and news media exploded over a bad case of research failure on FOX's quiz show Million Dollar Money Drop, FOX promoted the show saying "the airwaves and Internet were on fire" and that it was "the most talked-about show of the season." They intentionally neglected to point out that most of that talk was either "How did your writers come up with the wrong answer to a question when it takes 60 seconds to look up the answer online?" or "Why are you stalling with 5 minutes of padding to drag out The Reveal to a question when it takes one minute to look up the answer online?"
- Murder mystery reality show Whodunnit did something similar, proclaiming in its finale that it had generated a lot of internet buzz. But that buzz centered around viewers that thought the show was actually killing contestants instead of just fake-killing them, and the show was unremarkable otherwise.
- The characteristic vibration of a Harley-Davidson engine. Harley claims that it's due to the power of the engine, and specifically calls for you to "feel the power" in their advertising. In reality, it's due to the fact that any v-twin with a v-angle less than 90° will vibrate a lot, with the effect increasing the narrower the angle.
- This also incorporates a bit of The Coconut Effect. Some Japanese-made motorcycles are faster and/or more powerful than American-made ones, but because they don't roar as loud or vibrate as much, they're seen as inferior (when the opposite is true, see above).
- In-universe example: There's a What's New? with Phil and Dixie comic-strip, with a full-page panel set in the dealer's room of a tabletop gaming convention. One of the booth staff is dismayed to discover that a box of gaming miniatures was left in a hot place and have partially melted; his co-worker says it's no problem, and puts out a sign advertising leper figures.
- Some lotteries — namely scratch-offs higher than five dollars — advertise that winning is guaranteed. They fail to mention that the vast majority of the prizes are under the sales price of a ticket, so most "winners" make a net loss.
- Some boxed chocolates come with the candies still in the plastic factory moulds. This is not announced on the packaging (nobody wants chocolates they have to squeeze out of moulds) but is touted as "stay-fresh" on the inside of the box. Very embarrassing if given as a gift.
- 3DFX marketed its Voodoo line of graphics cards as not requiring users to throw out their old graphics cards. In reality, this was because the Voodoo had no 2D rendering support, and required a 2D card for that purpose, unless not being able to do any non-gaming task wasn't a problem for you. This was less of an issue than other examples, as most users already had suitable cards, and its 3D performance was world-class at the time. Most recognized the technique as a "piggyback" card, similar to MPEG-2 DVD accelerators at the time (the late 90's). As the technology caught up, single cards capable of doing both 2D and 3D competently started appearing, and even 3dfx saw this coming: the Voodoo3 line and beyond were all-in-one cards.
- A series of ads for speech-to-text software spouts how much more convenient it is than typing by showing actors doing chores or similar while dictating a document. Then one of the ads shows a man who's writing a saucy romance novel - then closes and hides it when his family comes home. The software frees your hands - just make sure you're alone first.
- The television ad for the NES game Fester's Quest marketed it as "one tough video game", such that "if you make just one mistake, you start all over again!" While this may appeal to the Challenge Gamer, it's odd to market "you have only one life and go back to the beginning of the game if you die" as a feature.
- Upsillon Circuit takes it one step further: You can only play once. EVER. When you die, you are never allowed to play again! And this is marketed as the ultimate hardcore challenge. An indie game You Only Live Once also made this a feature.
- Fictional example: A couple wand makers in Delenda Est tell Harry that they sell their wands on the basis that people change over time and are no longer compatible with their old wand. They also claim that most of their customers buy new wands every couple years with some replacing theirs every few months. This is because their wands are mass-produced crap that is liable to stop working within months. Compare Ollivander's wands which are expected to (and usually do) last a lifetime.
- Any fan-books, photo-guides, or biographies that proudly announce that it is "100% Unauthorized". Meant to imply that it'll have juicy details that celebrities don't want you to know, more likely it's that the publishers didn't want to pay any residuals that might allow them access to any information or pictures not available through a quick Google search, while at the same time, being inoffensive enough not to draw any actual legal action.
- Similarly, a film advertised as "the Unrated Edition" or "the Director's Cut" might have saucy material too risque for theaters... or it might have five minutes' worth of deleted scenes no more or less extreme than what was already in there tossed back in, but the distribution company didn't want to go to the trouble to send the almost-identical new version back through the MPAA ratings process.
- The mobile messenger app WhatsApp does not use usernames, instead requiring the user to add another user's phone number to their contacts list in order to IM them. The app description touts the lack of usernames as a feature, stating that it means the user doesn't need to add users by username since in-app friends are automatically synchronized with the user's contacts. However, this means you can't add other users without either giving away your own phone number or asking for other users' numbers, and some users may not be comfortable giving away their phone number for a variety of privacy-related reasons, at least compared to a proprietary username. Competing apps line LINE and KakaoTalk have usernames, but also allow contact syncing.
- In most diamond mines, alongside the select few that are the most desirable colors (clear, yellow, pink, green and blue) there tends to be a large number of undesirable diamonds that are only able to be sold as industrial diamonds (such as for diamond-tipped power tools) because they have a dirty brown color to them. Industrial diamonds are far cheaper than diamonds for jewelry, so to try to push them into the more lucrative jewelry market, there's been a push to marketing them as "chocolate diamonds." This had been done once before, in the 70s, they were marketed as "cognac diamonds" and pushed as the more masculine alternative to white diamonds and better suited for men's jewelry. Now the target audience is women, and anything called chocolate supposedly feels more feminine. The irony is, brown diamonds can be quite lovely◊ even without the marketing spin.
- A big fuss was made about Spore before its release regarding it "always having something new" so you can "play it forever" because of its procedurally generated worlds and player-made content. In the released version, the procedural generation does not have any tangible effect on gameplay, so "playing forever" really just entails doing the same things over and over again as you would in any other game, but with different models and a lot less depth than others like it so as not to risk doing anything with those models that the spline system couldn't handle well. Yes, you could play it forever and always see new things... but they never promised that doing so would be fun.
- A trailer for the abysmal Rise of the Robots boasts about the game's allegedly complex AI. All the points it made about the AI learning and adapting to its opponent turned out to be Blatant Lies, but the mention of the computer "reading your moves" turned out to mean "On hard mode The Computer Is A Button-Reading Bastard."
- One of Nintendo's revisions of the Nintendo 3DS is cheaper than the standard version, but at the cost of not having the 3D capability that the system is named for. Nintendo compensated by advertising the "2DS" as for children, as the 3D effect of the regular 3DS could damage young eyes and the 2DS carries no risk of that. Fortunately for them this totally worked, though more so due to the lower cost making 3DS games available to people who didn't want or care about the titular aspect.
- The Ford GT90, an actual built concept super car made in 1995 was powered with a 720 hp quad-turbocharged V12 DOHC engine with the idea being it would re-kindle the glory days of the GT40 in a then modern version, and be a test bed for new technology. It also had a slight problem in that the heat from the engine exhaust could damage the body of the car, thus requiring Ceramic tiles to protect it, much like those used for the heat shielding for re-entry into Earth's atmosphere on the NASA space shuttles. Ford actually bragged about this "feature" by citing its need with that powerful of an engine, and the use of space-flight technology.
- Any game that claims "X Hours of Gameplay!" but falls under Fake Longevity under closer scrutiny. Parodied on the box of some versions of Earthworm Jim (one playthrough of which is about the length of a feature film in a bid to avoid that problem) which claims some overly specific three-digit number of hours of gameplay.
- Open-world games that make a big deal in advertising about how big their sandbox is also usually fall under this. The implication they want you to take away is something like "we had so many ideas to put in the game that the map can't possibly be any smaller than this". What more often seems to be the case is that the size of the map was set in stone in the first meeting, simply to one-up whatever game from last year had the previously-largest playable area, before actually thinking up anything to fill it with - ending up with an impressively-massive game world that's a chore to navigate and, outside of the city you begin in, is almost entirely boring and lifeless.
- Used cars have had owners and car lot salesman come up with so many excuses to sugar coat various issues, that it's become a joke to genre savvy buyers and the cynical and sarcastic among us. Examples: "This car is hot!" note , "Minor water damage"note , "Project Car"note , and "One of a kind!" note Some of these and more have been used (and illustrated) in Carfax commercials to highlight their service—which is to help provide actual vehicle histories to reveal which ads are cases of this trope (or other deceptions), and which really are good deals.
- When first issued to troops in Vietnam, the M16 was described as a 'self-cleaning' weapon (this only applied to the gas system) which led to its notorious unreliability, until the military issued cleaning kits, trained the soldiers how to maintain the weapon like they should have done in the first place, and made modifications to the powder used in the cartridges (to help prevent undue fouling) and the rifle itself (to actually facilitate cleaning and maintenance; the earliest version could only fix issues via near-complete disassembly). It didn't help that the chrome-plated bore on the prototype weapons was eliminated to reduce cost.
- The makers of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis tout a version for daily use, "so you can be ready when the moment is right". Ads for rival ED drug Viagra responded to this by saying "you only take Viagra when you need it".
- Auction sites such as QuiBids that advertise fantastically low prices on goods either leave out or bury in the fine print that you have to pay x amount of money for each bid, and that you have to place numerous bids to keep from being edged out. So yes, you can get that laptop or big-screen TV for $98, but only after you've spent several hundred dollars bidding to win it. Lose the auction? Don't worry, you can still get the item by applying the money you spent on bids toward retail price and paying the difference. Can't afford the full MSRP? Well, then you're boned.
- The Highland Titles website assures potential buyers of a "souvenir plot" in the Scottish Highlands that their purchase does not need to be registered. It doesn't say that this is because the Scottish Land Registry does not consider this to be a genuine sale of land, and that legally, the plot remains with Highland Titles.
- The International Star Registry runs a similar scam, offering to name a star for your loved one and record the name in the Library of Congress for posterity. They really will do that for you, because the Library of Congress couldn't care less either way; so long as you pay the requisite fee, you could rename every star in the galaxy "Soiled Underpants" and register it with them if you wanted, but it would have no bearing on what the International Astronomical Union officially designates as a star's name. To their credit, the Star Registry website does admit as much if you poke around in their FAQ.