Often, firms confuse consumers with their marketing communications. Even though these communications are often quite simple, it is reasonable to ask whether the objectives of the communcations are being achieved by the communications themselves. Research indicates that often there is a disconnect between what marketers want to communicate and what gets processed by consumers.

Two large studies in marketing found a high amount of miscommuncation in the mass media. The estimated rate of comprehension was only about 70% for TV ads and 65% for print.

While miscommuncation can likely occur when consumers motivation is low, or there are cultural differences, often companies simply fail to make their communcations clear.

For example, look at the following examples and see how what a firm wants to communicate somehow doesn't get communicated properly.

On Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping
On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary! Details inside.
On a bar of Dial soap: Directions: Use like regular soap
On Swan frozen dinners: Serving suggestion: defrost
On a hotel provided shower cap: Fits one head
Printed on the bottom of Tesco's Tiramisu dessert: Do not turn upside down
On Marks and Spencer bread pudding: Product will be hot after heating
On packaging for a Rowenta iron: Do not iron clothes on body
On Nytol sleep aid: Warning: may cause drowsiness
On Sainsbury's peanuts:  Warning: contains nuts
On American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions: open packet, eat nuts
On a child Superman costume: Warning: This garment does not enable you to fly

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image of Allen Weiss

Allen Weiss is the CEO and founder of MarketingProfs. He's also a longtime marketing professor and mentor at the University of Southern California, where he leads Mindful USC, its mindfulness center.