Skip to main content

When does marketing become lying?

Faced with the question 'When does marketing become lying?' many of those who are suspicious of capitalism and business are likely to come up with the knee jerk response 'Is there a difference?' But that's not fair. Marketing is a perfectly legitimate and sensible activity. You would have to be stupid not to want potential customers to see your product or service in the best light - and as soon as you aspire to this, you are thinking of marketing.

Unfortunately sometimes marketing crosses the line into deception. I posted quite a while ago about a marketing campaign where apparently hand-written post-it notes were attached to fake newspapers describing a trainer's work. I've also complained to advertising standards a couple of times about advertising that I think crosses the line. In both cases they didn't agree. One involved paper junk mail for a charity where the envelope implied it contained important personal information and it didn't.

The other was an email that had a subject line that said you had won a prize - in the body of the email it turned out that you hadn't won, you just had an opportunity to enter a competition to win said prize. Now I think that's deception. I wouldn't have read the email if it hadn't been for that lying subject line, and that wasted my time. But advertising standards didn't back me up. Sigh.

I've just had some spam that really pushes the boundary on fibbing, though. It starts out like this:
Hi Brian
I had so many business cards in my drawer that
I have put them all in a Rolodex efficiently.

It may have been a while since we met,
sorry I haven’t been in touch sooner.

However, I would like to get you lunch if I may please,
it would be a great opportunity to meet again after
such a long time.
It goes on to try to get me to go along to some kind of (apparently free) event including lunch. Now I have never met this person and have certainly not given them my card. This is made doubly clear because I received the mail twice to two different email addresses, one of which isn't on my card. What I don't understand is why the people sending this out think it will encourage me to think positively of someone who is fibbing about knowing me. Sorry, guys, it's a turn off. When marketing crosses the line it ceases to have a positive value. And that's a lesson every business needs to learn.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope