Hyperbole: a potential business saboteur

Stop right there. Before we go any further I want to make one thing perfectly clear: we aren’t talking about some ‘hyper’ version of the super bowl.

This is pronounced hi-per-bo-lee.

It could really rough you up if you aren’t careful. It can also be pretty brilliant when you know how to use it.

I’ma stop teasing you now and reveal all. Let’s go!

What is hyperbole?

Hyperbole is a rhetoricalĀ device that originated in ancient Greece. It’s another one of those things you useĀ all the time without realising. It’s basically a fancypants name for ‘exaggeration’.

For example:

I’m so hungry I could eat a bus.

OMG, I died! That is literally the funniest thing ever.

She was stacked…her boobs were bigger than her head.

Now, we’re all guilty of a little hyperbole in our daily lives, but when it comes to marketing, you’re walking a damn fine line, and a toe out of place could see you firmly in the realms of ‘over-promising’. That’s not a great neighbourhood to be in.

Using hyperbole like a moron

The implications of over-promising or over exaggerating in your marketing copy can be disastrous.

The first pitfall you’ll encounter is getting a slap from the ASA for being a cheeky little fibber. You’ll damage your reputation, which hurts customer trust like nothing else. If you’ve learned anything from this blog, it’s that earning and keeping customer trust is more important now than ever.


Using hyperbole like a complete and utter boss

There’s no reason to be scared of hyperbole. When done right it can be truly awesome. Here, lemme show you:

How about this cheeky print ad by Virgin Holidays? If you took it literally, you would have to be a complete fool. It’s so exaggerated that it’s effective and fun.


And this delightful Old Spice ad:

When your branding is fun and playful, your customers will know not to take any extreme content as gospel.

For example, Scottish craft beer brewers, Brewdog, repeatedly get into trouble with The Portman Group over their advertising. Their website, packaging and marketing are littered with hyperbole of the most inventive kind. It was only a matter of time before a regulatory body got their knickers in a twist.

Here’s what the body of drinks producers had to say about Brewdog’s Dead Pony IPA:

Brewdog is a daring brand aimed at a more youthful customer, so it naturally follows that their products and advertising are of the boundary-pushing variety. They are so confident and staunch in their branding, that they posted a rather delightful retort. Here’s a taster:

Did they cross a line? Not according to their customers…

And with that, we have the most perfect example of hyperbole used in marketing in the correct context and utterly smashing it.

So what are the golden rules? Don’t be a moron with hyperbole; it’s best used by playful brands or in a playful context. Misuse it, and it could well and truly bite you on the arse.

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