Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Truth in Advertising

Mallory Long


More often than not, it would appear that the world of advertising gets a bad rap. And why shouldn’t it? Advertisements are full of nothing but lies and false promises, serving only the purpose of getting as many people as possible to spend money on a certain product, regardless of the aftermath, right? And lying to the public about the usefulness and effectiveness of products via advertisements is what’s keeping these major corporations in business, right?

Doesn’t that seem strange to anyone else? In my experience, once a person has been burned they keep their hands off the stove – or, to put it in the context of this argument, once I’ve felt misled by an advertisement or company, I won’t be coming back for its products any time soon, and might even return the product if I feel so compelled.

I think Ogilvy and Mather’s Chris Moore said it best in his speech about ethics and advertising:

“Ads for reputable companies almost never lie. They have to be able to prove what they say to their own corporate counsel, the ad agency’s lawyers, the network’s approval committees and to any number of regulating bodies like the FDA and FTC. With at least five different government agencies looking over our shoulder, the cost of being caught cheating is simply too high. In addition, the individuals inside a company want to be able to look at themselves in the mirror. Some like to think of business people as belonging to some other species, but remember that most of them are you a few years from now.

So we tell the truth – but not always the Whole Truth. Like lawyers, our job is to put our clients in the best light. When you go on a job interview or a first date, you don’t assume a false identity – but you probably don’t make a full disclosure either. Chances are you keep your lactose intolerance and foot odor issues in the background, and save your Federation Starfleet uniform for later in the relationship – if there IS a later.”

I think Moore makes a great point here – if advertisements are lying then we’re all lying. The point of an advertisement is to make a product look good, not just OK, and most people know that (obviously exceptions need to be made for advertising to children, and possibly alcohol and tobacco). Advertising needs to be taken with a grain of salt most of the time, which shouldn’t be difficult for most people, as I believe most are cynical about the advertisements they see anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment