November 01, 2010
Radio Advertising and the Midterm Elections 2010
Radio ads for political candidates have saturated the airwaves over the last week or so. And as I've listened to their messaging and delivery tactics I can't help but be thankful that businesses can't advertise the way politicians do. You see, businesses are limited by laws that make it illegal to air ads that are deceptive or misleading. If you do that, you will receive a very polite Nastygram called a cease and desist letter from the Federal Trade Commission's "Consumer Protection" group.
Now, it's tempting for businesses to lie to sell their goods and services because it often seems that only hyperbole will break through the clutter of over-promising messaging. However, if they were allowed to lie and mislead in their ads, think about what would happen. People would stop believing anything they hear to be truthful. They might believe it once or twice - or even three times. But at some point, after buying these goods and services and finding out that what they were told prior to buying them wasn't true, they'd stop buying anything. Sales would plummet and all advertising would be rendered ineffective.
Well there's no "Citizen Protection" group protecting voters from false or misleading advertising by political candidates. That's because, unlike for businesses, there is no law making it illegal for politicians or other groups to create and air false and misleading ads. So, that's what they do. Well, we could go on and on about the self-defeating stupidity of that but it's simply the way it is and since politicians make the laws it's probably not going to change. Plus, they do it because it works - we believe them, so the finger points back at us citizens if we think it all the way through.
It does make me wonder, though - are we electing the "best" people for the jobs of running our country -the most skilled, honest, hardworking, knowledgeable? Or, are we electing those most skilled at one thing: lying? And, if it's the latter, won't that make it difficult to believe anything anyone says? Ever?
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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely
Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
Made to Stick, Heath & Heath
The Power of Persuasion, Robert Levine
Influence: Science & Practice, Cialdini
Words That Work, Frank Lutz
My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising, Claude C. Hopkins
Or Your Money Back, Alvin Eicoff
Being Direct, Lester Wunderman