As I ask in my revisited post: If this is not done to be manipulative why is the adjective "exponential" only used when discussing profits, growth, etc.. and not done for costs, losses, or anything negative?
What you aren't getting is that whether or not terms like "exponential" have marketing value is a completely different question from whether or not a particular curve matches an exponential model.
Yes, fancy terms invoking rapid, continued growth have marketing value (i.e. are manipulative). If they were claiming, say, factorial growth then it would be obvious that they were lying or performing some kind of trickery to get that result. Instead they're claiming exponential growth, which has the virtue of being a correct model for past growth and good marketing copy.
Now, you're going to point out that firms report annually. Yes, they report annually. If you take those annual figures and graph them you get an exponential curve.