Honesty in Advertising

Posted by Mike Kaaks

11 September 2020

This post is about Probity - the quality of having strong moral principles ; honesty and decency. It’s not too much to expect.

Being on the couch so much during covid 19 I have been attracted to a number of commercials. Not because of their creativity or style or engagement but because they seem to lack probity. There are many adverts that whilst they don’t pedal untruth they use omission to make something appear to be what it is not.  

For example, an international money transfer service is offered free of fees at either end. It looks like I’m getting something for nothing. But of course I will be paying by getting less than market exchange rates. How much less is anyone’s guess. Thats the other part of the problem, being presented this way I have no means of comparison with competitive offers so the attraction of the freebie is all I have to go by.

Then there is the offer of a free report of my credit score. When I go to the website I am asked to sign up, to give the vendor a set of my personal data. As we have seen in works like Shoshana Zuboff’s book The Age of Surveiillance Capitalism, this data has significant value. So in fact we are paying for the Credit score, just not paying in cash. In fact I would argue that we are paying more when we sign away our data.

Time to Make a Difference