I was trying to translate in my mind right before I wrote to an English friend about the tricks that companies use to draw attention to their products and to drive sales. That's when the word gimmick sprang to mind. I must admit I've never used it before in discourse, and all my faint knowledge of the word is based on a few reading encounters that occurred many years ago. So, I started writing:

We have this ridiculous marketing gimmick about a soap bar that can kill 99.9 % of bacteria.

I was unsure gimmick was the right word since I hadn't used it before, so I looked it up in a dictionary and ran a google search on the phrase marketing gimmicks. I was happy to know that the phrase that popped out of no where in my head was correct and common.

Surprisingly enough, and right before I sent the message, the word ploy, which I've never used before either, and which was not part of the definitions or synonyms of gimmick, popped out of nowhere in my head. I applied the same verification techniques only to find out marketing ploys was just as good, but I can't tell if they are exactly interchangeable in this context or if there's any subtle difference.

1 Answer 1


For me, there's a difference: a gimmick is a novelty with no value except to increase sales. A ploy is a plan or strategy.

I'd say both are acceptable, but i prefer just doing away with the word altogether:

We have this ridiculous marketing about a soap bar that can kill 99.9 % of bacteria.

  • Thanks, but could you tell me why it's better without the word? The whole point of my message is to give an example of a local gimmick/ploy and that is the soap being able to kill 99.9 %.
    – Sara
    Sep 26, 2018 at 6:23
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    Ah, i know why it didn't sound accurate to me. Marketing includes all activities related to getting sales, so a marketing gimmick / ploy would be selling at $99.99 instead of $100. I think you might be looking for advertising, which is about claims and packaging: "We have this ridiculous advertising gimmick about a soap bar that can kill 99.9 % of bacteria." Sep 26, 2018 at 8:30

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