Honesty is not a strong point with some people, although they probably don’t consider it being exactly dishonest, maybe just a little bit sparing with the truth, or telling white lies, protecting sources, forgetting to mention, but not lying.
I remember seeing a photograph taken, I think, in New York a few years ago. It showed a handwritten sign for a flower shop and said, for anyone reading at a distance or going by quickly in a car: a dozen roses, $4.00.
Anyone going a little bit closer, or actually trying to buy a dozen roses, would have discovered that there was a touch of small print there too: half and .95.
Put the whole together and you could buy half a dozen roses for $4.95. I’m sure quite a few customers decided to take their business elsewhere afterward, if they bothered shopping there at all.
Not that advertising isn’t simply a massive factory of people who put together carefully worded falsehoods. Sometimes they get away with it, sometimes they pay the price
and sometimes it is clear that they really just don’t give a damn about it all, business will continue as usual and there is a sucker born every minute so, why worry? I seem to remember that a British jeweller thought this much too and, at a general meeting of his shareholders, admitted that the bulk of the jewellery his stores offered the public was merely ‘shit’, but they bought it and that was good. A few weeks later, after it had hit the news, he was out of a job and the jewellery chain was writing rather worse turnover figures than ever before.
But what else can the advertising industry do? If they were honest about Old Mother Hubbard’s cakes and biscuits – you know, those delightful treat Mother Hubbard prepares herself in her small cottage – no one would want to buy them. If more people really appreciated how chickens are ‘farmed’ through to slaughter and the chemicals which are pumped into all animals prior to them being marketed for our dinner tables there would be considerably more vegetarians in the world.
And anyone who falls for such things is a mere fool, we all know that. We all say it. Even as we click on that link in a mail we’re not too sure about, not too sure who sent it, and then watch our computer go downhill. Or as we read about another person who has bought London Bridge, or agreed to help that poor Mrs Whatever-Her-name-Is, you know, wife of the ambassador from Nigeria who died the other day and left one hundred and fifty million dollars in the bank which needs to be brought out with your help…
Let’s be honest, who reads the small print? Sometimes it is simply too dangerous.
- Viktoria Michaelis.