Thursday, January 14, 2010

Advertising Fine Print Comedy

On successive days my local newspaper carried full page ads from car companies. Ordinarily, I don’t notice ads in newspapers much, but the volume of fine print caught my eye. And of course, we all know that the bad news is in the fine print.

A Ford ad had about 1500 words of fine print! That would cover about 5 pages in the Stephen King book I pulled randomly from my bookshelf. A Hyundai ad had about 600 words of fine print running sideways down the length of the ad.

In a fit of masochism, I decided to read the fine print just to see how bad the news was. I’ll spare you the details and leap straight to the funniest parts.

The top of the Hyundai ad featured a car whose price (in huge red font) is $9999 with 0% financing. However, fine print revealed the following information about the car pictured beside this seemingly too-good-to-be-true price:

Price of car in picture:
plus a $1495 delivery and destination charge
plus “registration, insurance, license fees, and applicable taxes”.

So it seems that this $9999 car will actually cost over $20,000. Nice.

The funniest part of the Ford ad was to list “twice a month” payments. So, they divided the monthly payments by 2 before printing them in huge blue font. In that spirit, I’d like to offer $20 bills for $15.*

* Must pay twice.

Fine print is rarely good news, but at least it can be amusing.


  1. The fine in fine print is probably that noun, fine, which is defined as "Money extracted as a penalty"... For not reading the fine print, I guess.

  2. AS: Good one. I hadn't seen (heard?) that double entendre.

  3. Interesting that the Ontario Government is forcing USED car dealers to put up full disclosure pricing and such, yet they allow New* car dealers off the hook.

    * - The word new does not imply no previous owner simply a word we use to fool you.


  4. Big Cajun Man: I haven't sold a car privately for some time, but I've heard that the process has become much more involved.

    CC: I hadn't heard that quote before -- very true.

    1. The second reply is to Canadian Capitalist's comment:

      I don't know where I heard this one: "What the big print giveth, the fine print taketh away". Lots of truth in that one. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

  5. So you're saying fine print is a lot like a Stephen King horror novel?

  6. Gene: I think Stephen King aspires to produce fiction that reaches the level of fine print.

  7. Unbelievable - isn't there a "truth in advertising" law or royal commission or something?

    You just can't trust sales pitches anymore... :)

    The twice a month thing is beyond silly.