Credibility always counts in marketing, but even more these days when consumers are questioning the trustworthiness of their banks, the safety of their food, and the value of the products they are purchasing as funds have tightened up. Interestingly, polls now show that the same people concerned about safety issues in the food system are also exhibiting greater trust in small or local banks. Retail marketing campaigns that aim to capture the frugal consumer are extremely vulnerable to skepticism in the age of internet activism, advice, and response. Setting aside their big blunder with free chicken, Oprah, and coupons, KFC got into some hot water with consumers when a recent ad challenged a family to create a meal from the grocery store for as little as it cost for one of their seven piece dinners (roughly $10). Tons of bloggers and ordinary folks took the challenge and, armed with Joy of Cooking, common sense, and price spreadsheets, "brought the colonel down."
While acknowledging that all price-matching programs have terms and limitations that may not reasonably be expected to be disclosed in a TV spot, the NAD recommended that Wal-Mart "make its disclosures substantially more clear and conspicuous in its printed and broadcast advertising and on its in-store signage." It also recommended that it ditch the "$700 annual savings" claim entirely. "The use of the phrase "on average" does not temper the overriding message that the viewer -- wherever located -- can expect to obtain these savings," the watchdog group says in its release.