The BEST Blog EVER Written!
Superlatives such as ‘best’, ‘unbeatable’, ‘number one’, ‘top’, ‘leading’, basically any word with the suffix ‘-est’, can be used to powerful effect in advertising. They have the ability to set an advertiser apart from its competitors; an easy, immediate USP. It’s for this very reason that the use of superlatives in radio advertising is controlled. After all, if every advertiser was allowed to claim the ‘cheapest prices’ or ‘biggest choice’ then the listener’s ability as a consumer to make a fair, informed decision would be hugely diminished – something the advertising regulators need to guard against.
You might believe your business offers the biggest choice of products; the friendliest service; the lowest prices of all your competitors. You might believe you’re the best, but when it comes to advertising on radio, are you allowed to say you’re the best?
With superlatives, it all depends on the context in which they’re used;
The subjective or the objective.
The best tasting sausages in town!
Advertising regulators consider a superlative to be subjective when it ‘cannot be measured and is presented clearly as a matter of opinion’. If this is the case, as it is in the example above, then the use of the superlative is considered valid and the advertiser is not required to submit substantiation or supporting evidence in order for the claim to be advertised.
The best priced sausages in town!
An objective superlative, on the other hand, is classed as forming a claim that ‘can be measured against factual criteria and is presented as fact’. If this is the case, as it is in the second example, then the advertiser will need to provide suitable evidence to prove its validity before the regulators will allow it to air. Furthermore, as well as providing satisfactory supporting evidence, objective superlative claims usually need to be qualified in the copy. The advertising regulators may for instance, insist that the claim be preceded by a qualifying statement, e.g. ‘with six for just £1, our sausages are the best priced sausages in town!’
The easiest way to determine if your use of a superlative is objective or subjective is to ask yourself whether the claim you are making is based on opinion or fact. Is it something that can be measured factually, such as price, square footage of shop floor, the choice and number of products on offer? Or is it entirely a matter of personal opinion like taste in food, fashion, or whether this blog actually is the best ever written?
The best quality sausages in town!
The rules on the use of superlatives can create some grey areas. On first inspection, our claim of having ‘the best quality sausages in town’ appears objective. After all, can we really claim that our sausages, made from 60% pork and 40% water, are the best quality in town, when the butcher down the street is selling sausages made of 100% minced pork loin? It would appear not. However, if the majority of listeners interpret the claim not to refer to the meat content, but to the taste and texture of the sausage, then the superlative could instead be considered subjective. As I said, it’s a grey area. Not to worry though, the JMS writing team are always on hand to advise on the subject of the superlative, and can liaise with the relevant bodies to ensure your script follows the rules.
Because we’re the best team around!