If You Can’t Prove It, Don’t Say It

‘My daddy is the strongest man in the universe’ ‘I’m the fastest runner ever’ ‘Manchester United are the best football team in the world’

All the above are boasts probably being made by children in playgrounds up and down the country on any given day – all are boasts that are clearly untrue, but you let slide because of the innocence of youth.

But there does reach a point in life when totally unsubstantiated boasts need to be called out.

As a group we at TGI Golf have a very strict policy on what we say in public via our advertising, social media and PR – basically, if you can’t prove it, don’t say it.

Unfortunately it appears not everyone has the same policy. You only have to open the pages of any of the golf trade magazine and you’ll see a vast array of advertisements, and inexplicably some editorials, where outrageous boasts and claims are being made.

Strangely, in television advertising, any claim made by a company must be proven before the advertisement is aired, however, this is not the case for print.

You just have to look through the latest magazines to see some crazy lines within the first dozen pages – “World’s Smartest Watch” “#1 in digital golf marketing”Best by a distance” “The best in…” “The fastest growing…” – You know what I mean!

We know for a fact that at least one of those claims is untrue and a couple questionable, at best. So how do companies get away with it?

Well, the media take these adverts on face value, making a, perhaps naïve, assumption that the companies placing the ads are not making unsubstantiated claims. It is down to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ensure these ethics are adhered to.

I would be inclined to say that if they are ever having a quiet day at the ASA then all they’d need to do is pick up a golf trade magazine and they’d have a field day.

Is this an issue that faces just our industry? Another example of the golf trade living in a bubble? Or is it just a fact of life that small to medium sized businesses across the board make these outrageous claims in an effort to keep the turnover and reputation moving?

Is it any wonder that the buying and decision making process around it are tainted by smoke and mirrors?

One thing is for sure, you’d best hope you don’t get pulled up on any unsubstantiated claims…that would be highly embarrassing and damaging for your reputation.

Matt Millard
Head of Communications

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