"It's a picture, but I wouldn't call it art."
"If that's the Happiness Hotel, I'd hate to see what the sad one looks like."
A gag in comedy. The characters go on vacation, but they find out the brochure pretty much lied about... well, everything. It promised them that the "Ultra Cool Inn" would be a luxury four-star hotel, but instead they find a crumbling cottage with a dangling, faded sign reading "Ultra Cool Inn", which is filled with cobwebs and has roaches living inside the refrigerator.
Sometimes you'll see the characters holding up the advert, and then revealing the actual place behind it. The elements will correspond, but will be very different. So the swimming pool will be in the same place, but the real one will be dirty brown, with stink lines coming off it.
Unfortunately, sometimes Truth in Television
. Not just for vacations, either.
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- Played with in the old "Joe Isuzu" ads run by Isuzu in the 1980's, where Joe would make outlandish and frequently impossible claims about Isuzu vehicles, with subtitles giving actual information. "It has as many seats as the Astrodome!" "(Note: actually seats six.)"
Anime and Manga
- The Beach Episode in Magical Pokaan starts with the girls holding an ad for a sunny, crowded beach. Cut to the same beach in the middle of a typhoon.
- The second Hot Springs Episode of Wagaya no Oinari-sama. has Noboru realize that the brochure for the inn he went to used this. The place is cheap and broken-down, but Kuu loves it regardless.
- The protagonist of Ranma 1/2 fell prey to this due to vague language, not to deliberate malice. When the prize for a good performance as Romeo was "Win a trip to see China!" he was excited at the chance to return to the Jusenkyo springs to cure his curse. As it turns out, "China" was the first name of Furinkan High's Romeo & Juliet producer. And Ranma got to see him. In the Swedish translation, they told him he could win "en resa till Kina" (a trip to China), but later Ranma found out that what he really won was the homophonic Enres Atiltjina, the producer of the Furinkan High play. Atiltjina's comment? "Thank you for winning me."
Live Action TV
- In Dharma and Greg, a bed'n'breakfast which promised a stately veranda, a breathtaking view of the sunset, and a whole host of other things, turned out to be a trailer behind a guy's house.
- Happens in a 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, involving a timeshare.
- Lane's honeymoon in Mexico in Gilmore Girls turned out like this.
So did the rest of her marriage.
- In the Dinosaurs series, when the Sinclair family visits Wesaysoland.
- One Are You Being Served? episode had the entire staff forced to take their vacation time simultaneously and at a Grace Brothers approved resort. As Mr. Rumboldt read off the tourist descriptions, he showed a slide show of the resort's features; the first one matched the hype, but none of the rest did. ("The beach is only twenty minutes away." "By jet?")
- The "holding up the advert" variant is used with Todd's much-crappier-than-expected apartment in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret .
- In Absolutely Fabulous Eddie and Patsy go to France and make the best of a tiny, dirty little cabin, ignoring, or more accurately not understanding, the suggestion of the groundskeeper that they should move up to the mansion where rooms are waiting for them.
- A flock of priests go to have a drink at their local "Tea Bar". The half-broken neon marquee reveals that the building is actually a "Striptease Cabaret", and the priests are quite (pleasantly) shocked with their visit. Such is The Benny Hill Show.
- An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody that saw Maddie temporarily Put on a Bus had Sister Dominique showing her a camp brochure with a waterfall and various other natural wonders...then the camp turns out to be horrible (they once had leech cobbler as a meal and are across the road from a slaughterhouse).
- In the Victorious special "Locked Up", Yerba is this. For clarification, the Yerba wesbite depticts a beautiful country with white sandy beaches, but this turns out to be a scan of a picture hanging on the wall in a local hotel. The actual Yerba is a 3rd world hellhole with a easily angered dictator for a ruler.
- In Bewitched, Darrin and Samantha go on holiday to a "beautiful cabin" Larry has in the hills... which turns out to be a decaying, crumbling mess. When a storm sets in, Sam magics it into the cabin that was described. Trouble starts when Larry then shows up...
- Happens on Martin with Martin and Gina's vacation getaway. To make matters worse, they fell out with their best friends, Beta Couple Tommy and Pam, who ended up staying there too. They made up just in time to fight a dog-sized rat.
- One episode from I Love Lucy 's Hollywood story arc places the Ricardos and the Mertzes in rural Ohio; after making a pitstop at a rundown roadside diner where the lone proprietor only serves stale cheese sandwiches, they leave. Afterwards, Lucy drives down the road, while Ricky, Fred, and Ethel sleep, finding a billboard, promising good accommodations and wonderful food if you turn left onto the next road - Lucy does so, only to take everyone right back to the same rundown diner, where the proprietor admits he was waiting for them, saying that he put up that billboard himself to make everyone travel in circles. Not surprisingly, his only cabin is bare-bones, the full bed's mattress dips down to the floor, and passing trains shake the entire cabin violently.
- Dilbert and Dogbert went on a trip to Clyde Canyon, which turned out to be a ditch. Subverted when, as they left, another hiker asked them, "Why were you hanging out in that ditch? Beautiful Clyde Canyon is just over that ridge."
- FoxTrot has Andrea swearing that next time, she's gonna be the one in charge of vacation plans. This comes after the revelation that there's going to be a mock hurricane ("I wondered why everything was velcroed to the walls"). Roger is still clueless: "Uh, honey, your eye twitches like that when you're happy, right?"
- Technically more of a subversion, as the dialogue implies that the brochure was pretty much honest; Roger's just that stupid.
- And to be fair, everyone else had a good time.
- A private version happens in an early story in For Better or for Worse when the family uses a friend's cottage and finds it a wreck, but they make the best of it. When they get back from their comically unpleasant stay, their friend asks how they liked the TV and the jacuzzi, which were definitely not at the cottage they used. To that, Elly roars at John "You idiot! We went to the wrong cabin!!"
- A running gag in Frank and Ernest involves the guys, in one form or another, advertising something. Frank will point out that the ad is entirely false, and Ernest will explain how all the supposedly good stuff he wrote about is really bad.
- The beginning of Luigi's Mansion. The picture shows a nice inviting house complete with the sun in the sky, pleasant scenery and even rainbows. The actual mansion is a menacing looking Haunted House complete with tombstones on the lawn and Dramatic Thunder.
- In a real-life example, a British leisure park in the New Forest advertised a "British Lapland" complete with real log cabins, huskies, reindeer, a Christmas market, nativity scene and a tunnel of light. In reality, once visitors paid the £25 entry fee, they found that the log cabins were B&Q garden sheds, the nativity scene was a poster on a billboard in a field of mud, and the tunnel of light was actually a handful of lights stung across some dead trees. Stallholders in the "market" weren't paid, and Santa was reportedly beaten up by angry visitors.
- The majority of frozen meals, complete with the opportunity to compare the tantalizing gourmet repast on the box picture with the puny, viscous, nuked mess on the inside. This blog that does just that.
- Advertising laws require any food being sold be something that's actually in the package. The solution? Get a couple truckloads of the food product, find the best bits from thousands of packages, and doctor them: additives are a big no-no, but using a charcoal lighter to burn grill marks is fine.
- This may vary depending on the country, in the US, for example, it appears to be perfectly legal (based on the fact that everyone does it) to show things that aren't actually included in the package as long as you put "serving suggestion" on the label somewhere in small print.
- Fortunately not the case with the Weight Watchers-endorsed SmartOnes line. Apparently, when you're selling a meal as a dietary aid, you have to stick closer to what's on the box.
- Meccano had a model blocksetter crane pictured on the box lid of every set. However, not even the massive Set 10 (the largest) came with all the parts required to build the model (it was missing some gears), to say nothing of the tiny Set 1 (the smallest)—which also pictured the model.
- An iPod Touch may say it has 8 gigs of storage. In actuality, ¼ of that is used for system files and preinstalled apps.
- Similarly, a 3DS Nintendo card may have $20 on it, but remember, you now have to pay for tax on your purchases too (so it's fortunate that the prices in the eShop end with or cost 99¢). And depending on which state you live in, you'll still have a pocket change amount of money left in your account that you can't use.
- Anyone much familiar with computers may feel like this when it comes to advertised storage space on a hard drive or flash drive. See, computers measure things in increments of 1024 - a kilobyte is 1024 bytes, a megabyte is 1024 kilobytes, and so on. This is because computers work in binary. But they are always advertised and sold counting increments of 1000 - so if the advertising says 100 kilobytes, they actually mean 100,000 bytes which comes out to ~97.7 real kilobytes. Not that big a loss at smaller numbers, but now that hard drives are getting up into hundreds of gigabytes to whole terabytes, you may be out dozens of gigs between advertising and reality. Again, not unbearable but to some people it really rankles, especially if you need a lot of storage space or are doing emergency backups, where that "missing" 20-some gigabytes could be really useful.
- The Ren and Stimpy first and second seasons DVD set claimed to be uncut right on the cover, in great big letters, but it's actually not. Though the publishers weren't aware of this. They just used what Nickelodeon gave them, and it was Nickelodeon's fault for losing the original masters. Complaints caused them to lose the word 'uncut' from the later sets.
- One of the print ads for the Super NES game Power Moves featured screenshots that weren't even from the game, and looked more hand-drawn. Ironically, this was the wrong way to go (not just for moral reasons), as the hand-drawn stills looked much worse than the actual gameplay shots, which were actually pretty impressive for the system. Later ads featured the actual gameplay screenshots.
- The media sure does seem to like to consistently make Modern Family seem like a show about polyandry.
- Renting an "ocean side" beach house on North Carolina's Outer Banks? Hope you weren't expecting a view of the water — "ocean side" just means the house is on the east (ocean) side of the main road. Getting a view means spending far more for an ocean-front place.