Clever Marketing Gimmicks By Brands That Mislead Consumers

What you see isn’t always what you get. Especially when it comes to brands and their brilliant marketing strategies. In this day and age, brands have figured out the secret to duping consumers in the most realistic way possible. These brands adjust the truth in a way that suits their own image and get away with it almost every time. In fact, not only do they get away with it in broad daylight, but they somehow get consumers to leave the store under the impression that they got the best deal possible when in reality, they have been left with the short end of the stick.


Of course, these brands never counted on a list like this being made which calls them out on their clever marketing schemes. But we’re here to break down some of the sneakiest methods companies have pulled to trick consumers into buying their products! Keep reading, and you might be surprised to find that you also have been sucked in by some of these innovative brands.

The Bigger, The Better?

It is well known that brands tend to manipulate their packaging’s size to make it seem like they are offering more products than they actually are. Lays is notorious for doing so. However, famous cosmetic company, Dove, took it to a whole new level by hiding all the extra space at the very bottom of the bottle.


Unless you flip the bottle over, you would never notice this huge pit. But of course, all it takes is one angry customer who posts a picture on social media for the brand to go viral – for all the wrong reasons.

Hidden Behind Pretty Flowers

This is the kind of strategy that ensures that no one ever buys another Morello chocolate box ever again. No one can blame a consumer for thinking that this box of chocolate is actually filled with chocolates.

Source: Pinterest

However, this piece of deception is cleverly done, for Morello never promised a box full of chocolates. Unlike everything else on our list, here, what you see is exactly what you get!

Three-Piece Pepperoni

This is another classic case of a brand hiding the truth behind the packaging. This particular pizza, with its three juicy pieces of pepperoni peeking out from the packaging, actually turns out to be a Margherita once you go home.

Source: Reddit

But fear not! We are here to expose this corporate fraud and warn you to always check your whole pizzas before taking them home. Nothing is worth such disappointment.

Layers Of Packaging

M&M’s are a popular snack loved by people of all ages. And their decision to place their regular bag of M&M’s in a bigger box was definitely beguiling. They were able to deceive people into thinking that they were getting more M&M’s, when in fact, all they were getting was the same old bag of chocolates.


This trick cost the company its reputation, but they ended up making tons of profit. Clever indeed.

Less Is More?

Quorn seems to have figured out the perfect usage of the asterisk symbol – using it to explain how this bag of three ordinary-sized sausage rolls can be turned into 12 if one just cuts each of them into four pieces.

Source: Facebook

Quorn, however, failed in delivering mini rolls. The point was to fit a sausage into each roll instead of providing 12 bite-sized pieces of it. There’s a way to ensure no repeat customers for sure.

Modeling for McDonald’s

Models aren’t the only ones being airbrushed before being put on ads these days. Food is airbrushed too. A prime example is the burger from McDonald’s, which looks mouth-watering in the brochures and the pamphlets, but seems a little washed out in real life.

Source: Reddit

The photos, of course, have gone through layers of photoshop before being shown to the public. It’s only natural that these photos don’t resemble real life

Buy One, Get Half!

Skittles is a universal favorite. Biting into its hard shell and texting the chewy fruity center brings a joy that we just can’t express. And when we see a big box of our favorite candy, we are bound to get excited.

Source: Imgur

However, it would be best to leave our excitement back at home when it comes to Skittles. The big box that you buy is only filled halfway through. You’re definitely not getting what you paid for!

The Optical Illusion Of Nerfs

A brawl with your friends with a bunch of Nerfs is perhaps the most enjoyable pastime. And when a Nerf lover sees this massive package of their favorite toy, they would think that they hit the jackpot.

Source: Twitter

Careful before you make a move, though. If you look close enough, you will realize that the Nerfs on the back has only been stacked up. There aren’t that many Nerfs in this package after all. It was merely an optical illusion to trick you into buying the product!

Keep Your Promises Please

Cereal companies have been known to make several claims which they have not been able to back. One such claim was made by Kellogg’s when they promised that eating their frosted mini-wheats for breakfast every day is “clinically shown to improve kid’s attention by nearly 20%.”

Source: Reddit

Kellogg’s probably thought that the word “nearly” would keep them out of trouble. But this strategy didn’t work, as the company ended up spending nearly $4 million in reimbursing misled customers between 2008 and 2009.

How Fresh Is Your Bread?

Panera Bread has made a reputation for itself for providing customers with freshly baked bread. And they do provide freshly baked bread – in a way. What they don’t tell customers is that the dough they use is not freshly made.

Source: Reddit

The dough actually comes pre-prepared every day, and it may or may not be frozen. So, when you eat Panera Bread, you are eating fresh bread. It’s just not entirely fresh.

Fake Parking Enforcement Department

This is perhaps an ingenious marketing strategy by Aberdeen Square. Printed on a yellow sheet of paper, this particular ad resembles a parking ticket – a gimmick that ensures that nearly everyone will read the text with care. They are soon to realize this isn’t a parking ticket after all.


Once they realize that they were tricked, potential customers can take their business elsewhere. Naturally, nobody likes being duped!

Cheesy Or Fake?

We are genuinely sorry for doing this to pizza, but Pizza Hut pulled off something that we think everyone ought to be made aware of. While some people judge a good pizza by its crust, others judge by its cheesy goodness. To these people, we say, make sure the cheese is real!

Source: Reddit

As it turns out, health inspectors for the UK Standards Department found out that the cheese that was being used was imitation cheese. We truly hope that Pizza Hut learned from its lesson!

Check The Back For More Details

This kind of marketing would never fly in the European Union, where organic farming, production, and labeling have been regulated ever since 1991. But the same does not apply in America, where products claim to be organic even when they are not.

Source: Reddit

As such, the “organic” business has seen a massive boom in recent years, which is not only misleading but shocking and dangerous, to say the least.

It’s Not Really A Footlong

This is a classic. Subway’s signature footlong sub doesn’t actually measure the foot. Instead, it just about comes up to 11 inches. When Subway was called out on this, the company responded by saying that they never intended for the Footlong to indicate the sub’s size but instead to act as a trademark for only the sub’s name.

Source: Reddit

With the price of the sub being recently hiked from $5 to $6, we hope that the size of the sub received a similar hike too!

No Pumpkin For Your Latte

One of Starbucks’ signature drinks is their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, which gets sold like wildfire when the leaves start turning orange. While this drink remains one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks even today, Instagram food blogger Vani Hair revealed the truth about it in 2015.


It turns out that this drink does not contain any pumpkin in it at all. Instead, it is loaded with other unhealthy ingredients that most people are unaware of.

Eco-Friendly Avocados?

Calavo is one company that prides itself on being an environmentally-friendly company. However, they once pulled off a tactic that enraged people. They decided to offer pre-cut peeled avocados in plastic and cardboard wrapping.

Source: Reddit

As you can see, this little trick is far from being environmentally-friendly. Once people realized what they were doing, they began posting it on social media to express their outrage.

A Natural Marketing Tactic

The word “natural” appears on too many products these days. As it turns out, companies get away with using this word on their packaging to indicate no added flavors or colors and no synthetic substances.

Source: Reddit

Unfortunately, when they label a product as “natural,” companies such as Wesson do not seem to consider the use of pesticides, antibiotics, or the presence of sweeteners with a high fructose content.

Hungry? Grab Two Snickers Instead Of One

This is perhaps a marketing strategy that most Snickers lovers would have picked up on. The bigger bar is advertised as two times larger than the normal bar, but a quick comparison will show you that this is not true.

Source: Pinterest

Snickets could have easily made this a more effective marketing strategy by selling it in stores without leaving the regular bar out in plain sight for everyone to make out the difference.

Check The Hidden Text Before You Buy

Once you hit the supermarket, you are sure to be bombarded with a vast selection of cooking oils. However, you are only there for one reason, and you make a beeline for Olio, which seems to be selling the very thing you are looking for. Olive oil.

Source: Reddit

However, if you take a closer look at the ingredients below, you will notice that this oil comprises 90% refined sunflower oil and just 10% olive oil. The words “Olive oil” written on the package are highly misleading, to say the least!

Half A Hershey’s Statue

Hershey’s is known all over the world for its delicious chocolate. However, the company has also taken advantage of its loyal consumer base over the years by pulling tricks such as this. On picking up a Stanley Cup Hershey’s chocolate, you would be expecting the whole cup to be inside the package.

Source: Imgur

Instead, you are only given half the cup. What are they going to do next? A bar of hollow chocolate? Who knows!

Don’t judge a Pâté by its cover

Pâté is a loved delicacy all across the globe. This company sells this piece of pie in a seemingly huge packet. The reality, however, is a bit of a surprise and not the good kind.

Source: Imgur

Once you pull out the Pâté from its packaging, you realize that what you thought was one big piece of the Pâté is actually two small pieces instead. What’s more, these two pieces are so tiny that they do not do justice to your expectations even when combined.

Great Big Packet Of Air

When we see a huge packet of our favorite chips, we just can’t wait to get home and bust that packet open. Ideally, we would want to share the box with our significant other, but on second thought, that wouldn’t leave enough chips in this packet for either of us.

Source: Pinterest

Santitas has been cleverly selling bags half-filled with air by making the top half opaque, thereby causing an illusion to the consumer that they are getting a full packet of chips!

Haste Makes Waste

Companies that are quick to head into war with the tech giant, Apple, tend to fare poorly in general. The same happened with HP once when they decided to produce touchpads as a counter-point to the Apple iPads.

Photo By Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

However, because of their hasty production, HP produced something that was totally unoriginal and riddled with faulty software and disappointing features!

3D Isn’t Good Enough

3D Televisions were all the craze at one point in time, but the trend died soon enough when people realized that these television companies were just tricking people into buying costly TVs for no reason at all.

Source: Reddit

The technology was disappointing, but companies gave it their best. Despite this, they ended up failing miserably. 3D TVs were just not something people wanted to invest in.

Appearances Can Be Deceptive

Natrol cracked the code that pretty much every other company follows to sell less for more. Here, all they have done is swap the bottles’ sizes, but if you look carefully, you will realize that the bigger bottle is actually selling you LESS pills than the smaller one.

Source: Twitter

This is where reading the bottle becomes crucial. This is how you stop companies in their tracks and snatch a win for yourself.

More Harm Than Good

Kylie made the news for becoming the world’s youngest self-made billionaire with the launch of her beauty and skin-care line, Kylie Skin. One of the products which were marketed extensively under this brand was the Walnut Scrub. But the part that had people raising their eyebrows was the list of ingredients in this scrub.


However, dermatologists were quick to point out how crushed walnuts, which form the scrub’s main ingredient, cause a lot of damage to the skin!

Nike Couldn’t Up Its Game

The market saturation with a myriad of fitness products caused Nike to enter the business with its pioneer fitness band, FuelBand.


However, the fitness band did not pick up as expected, mainly because it proved ineffective if you did not possess a Nike+ product. Further, Nike’s heavy competition from other companies that produce fitness bands resulted in them shutting down their fitness bands altogether.

An Optical Illusion Soft-Serve

In London, the Soft Serve Society pulled off this gimmick to trick customers into consuming regular-sized ice-creams when they had actually ordered large ones. They merely placed a smaller cup inside a larger cup to complete this illusion.

Source: Reddit

Of course, it wasn’t difficult for customers to figure out this little trick by the company. Once they realized that they were deceived in such little taste (pun intended), they quickly called out the company for its cheap tactics.

No Cheers To Cheerios

Most companies’ most popular marketing strategy seems to be offering larger packaging with lesser volumes and weights of the products, and Honey Nut Cheerios are not exempt from this.

Source: Reddit

If you take a look at the two boxes for comparison, you will notice that the “large” box (which is not that much larger, after all) actually contains even lesser Cheerios than the regular box. 5.4 ounces lesser, to be precise!

2 Sips Of Drink + Loads Of Ice

Starbucks has been called out on its questionable strategies time and again, to the extent that even the law has gotten involved. But this one little strategy that they follow in most of their stores is something most people might notice in their iced drinks.

Photo By Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The coffee-shop loads iced drinks with ice so that you are left with a watered-down version of the drink at most, leaving you with just two sips to drink from. Your best bet here would be to ask for ice on the side the next time!

Repurposed Mac-And-Cheese

You may remember this scandal involving KFC that shook the internet world with a viral video in 2013, wherein an employee of the company showcased a mac-and-cheese and green beans that had been there “three or four days.”

Photo by Alain BUU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The employee then proceeded to repackage the food to be served the next day. The video happened to resurface again in 2017, forcing KFC to state their updated policies and practices.

Who Stole The Cookie From The Cookie Jar?

It turns out the company did. The packaging of these cookies is deceptive in its depth, leading one to believe that they are getting at least three cookies when they are left with fewer and fewer by the end.

Source: Reddit

This kind of packaging is only discouraging to consumers and ensures that fewer people go back for repurchase. This is why we keep wondering why companies continue to dupe customers in this manner over and over again?

The Lies And The Wastefulness

Like most other brands on our list, Listerine has perfected the art of packaging to make it seem like we are paying for at least two packs of breath strips when instead, all we get is one tiny strip.

Source: Reddit

This strip has been packaged twice – in plastic and in cardboard, which is not environmental-friendly in the least. But who cares about the environment anymore, when there are targets to be met and products to be sold?

Covered By Essence

The real world will only disappoint, and the sooner you learn this, the better you will fare in the future. These Essence nail stickers make sure to expose your kids to the harsh reality of marketing strategies by giving you only one-third of what you actually paid for.


One would expect a company that caters to kids’ products to possess more goodwill, but most of the empty space in the sticker set is covered by the company’s branding itself—such a disappointment.

Not Enough Frosting

Pop-tarts are one of the most loved treats in America. Biting into the pastry to get to that delicious signature filling is an experience that is only elevated by the delicious frosting that you find on top.

Source: Imgur

But as we have seen with many other famous brands, Pop-tarts tried to get away with providing less for more. In this case, the frosting on the pop-tart covers just half the pastry. What happened here? Pop-tarts, we need some answers!

Betrayal of the shrimp kind

If you’re still with us, this one will hardly come as a surprise. This shrimp packet looks as if it is packed with super long shrimp, when in fact, it is just two tiny pieces of shrimp arranged to look like one long shrimp!

Source: Reddit

This deception is made worse by the fact that there’s not much you can do with shrimp heads anyway. This means you’re only left with less than half of usable shrimp. What a waste!

Did I Miss My Flight?

This one is very similar to the parking ticket trick that Aberdeen Square pulled to fool customers into reading their ads with extra care. Only this time, it’s Spirit telling you that you missed your flight. Anyone with any human emotions is bound to be shocked the minute they read this.

Source: Reddit

But on further reading, you are more likely to get angry at Spirit for almost inducing a heart attack within you. Brands need to realize that shock-value is only going to get them so far.

Sharing Is Caring

Doritos was clever enough to introduce a large bag of Doritos, with the words “More to share” written across it. Looking at this, you might just pick it up for a party or a movie night at home with your significant other.

Source: Reddit

But once you read the fine print, you might get ticked off. As it turns out, all Doritos did was switch up the regular packet for the larger packet. The amount of Doritos in it remained precisely the same!

Emergency Alert!

As we have already said, the shock-value that brands use to get our attention doesn’t really get them far. This is a cheap tactic that only leaves people feeling disappointed with the company. The same can be said for this particular ad that used an “Emergency Alert” message to grab our attention.

Source: Imgur

Ironically, this ad is for a meditation session, which is supposed to be a calming activity. Perhaps it was their tactic to induce panic in us and then calm us down through their session?

Watch What You Buy

Skimygloop, the producer of those googly eyes that people tend to put on their soft toys and dolls, has figured out an ingenious way to provide less of these eyes to their customers in a single bottle. Unless you look carefully before buying, you might just miss this tactic.

Source: Twitter

Flip the bottle over, and you will notice a plastic tube running down the middle, which prevents more googly eyes from being sold to the consumers. We are really getting tired of companies ripping us off in these crude ways.

Eco-Friendly Locks For Your Home

Abus locks has us confused here. Not only is the picture of the lock on the packet green in color, but Abus has also explicitly stated “The world’s first green locks” underneath it. But when you open the packet, you are met with a very blue lock.

Source: Twitter

Perhaps Abus meant to tell us that they have produced eco-friendly locks? And if so, the green only referred to the sentiment of being environmentally-friendly? Either way, Abus should clear up this confusion.

How Many Blueberries Did You Say?

Kellogg’s takes its tactics to a whole new level with its Blueberry Eggo Waffles, which appears to have only one – that’s right, just one blueberry in the whole waffle. We don’t know how exactly Kellogg’s thought they could get away with this one.


While the kids are sure to be excited about a regular waffle, we’re not entirely sure that parents will ever buy these waffles ever again.

Smiley Balloon For Emoji-Themed Party

This one seems to be more of a practical joke that the company pulled on its customers. Imagine yourself throwing an emoji-themed party for your kids and getting a bunch of these balloons only to blow them up at home and see this.

Source: Twitter

Perhaps the company didn’t know that this would be the result once you blow up the balloons? A test-run might have helped in this situation.

No Meat On The Bones

Corn-dogs are perhaps our favorite things to eat at a carnival after winning a prize. Imagine our excitement when we see that Jimmy Dean provided these little treats in a box at the store. Of course, we’re going to pick up this packet and bring it home.

Source: Imgur

But we should have known better. We should have realized that when Jimmy Dean said “5 sticks”, they meant that they were offering five sticks literally, i.e., without the pancake or the sausage.

Roping Us In To Buy

This particular piece of tactic can be extremely dangerous, and it is definitely unethical on the part of the company. They are selling rope, but the way they have advertised the rope is where this ad stops being funny.

Source: Reddit

With a climber on the package’s front, one would naturally assume that you can use this rope for climbing. Unless you read the fine print at the back, which is when you realize the depths companies will stop to sell you their products.

Give Me More Candy!

This is the kind of product that is normally exchanged as gifts. We know that we would be bursting with excitement if we were to ever receive such a huge cup of strawberry candy. But disappointment hits us as we realize what this company has done to fool us.

Source: Reddit

This hug cup is barely filled half-way through with Strawberry Candy. The least they could have done is fill up the cup a little more.

Beary-flavored Lollipop

This panda-shaped lollipop looks adorable in its packet, doesn’t it? As always, the packaging is good enough to trick us into buying the product, only for us to realize that all we bought was a plain lollipop instead of a panda-shaped one.

Source: Reddit

What happened here? Can’t we even eat animal-shaped lollipops anymore? This is taking veganism too far, don’t you think?

One Or Two? Make Up Your Mind!

With this set of multi-vitamins, anyone is sure to be confused. Are you supposed to be taking one a day or two every day? The product, while actually being called “One a Day,” recommends at the back that you take two pills daily to receive the required daily nutrients.

Source: Reddit

What if someone didn’t read the fine print at the back? They might not be receiving their daily dose of supplements at all, something that could endanger their health for years to come.

No Need For A Warning

You might be looking at this picture and thinking that you can just rip off the sticker on this TriAdalean bottle to read the health warning, right? Wrong. This sticker is actually printed right on top of the bottle itself, thereby entirely covering the health warning.


Giving us fewer chips in a packet is one thing, but practice such as this ought to be criminal, don’t you think? They are playing with our lives here!