Monday, January 26, 2009

Truth!!! Maybe, sorta, kinda

Many of you have no doubt seen the new ads being run by Advertising Standards Canada trying to get you to trust your local advertiser. The video ads look something like this (sorry it's not embeddable). A full list of the ads they are running on television, radio and in print can be found at The basic gist is:
"Fact is, truth is an essential part of any successful ad campaign. Smart advertisers have known this
for years. That's why the advertising industry created the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.
For more than 40 years, the Code has set the standards for acceptable advertising in Canada. It helps
ensure that the ads you see and hear are truthful, fair and accurate. Check it out for yourself. Because
the more you know about advertising, the more you get out of it."
The problem is that there are alot of misleading ads out there. "Truthful, fair and accurate" hardly describes most advertising. If nothing else there is alot of falsehood by omission. For example, this ad by the "Advertising Standards Council" doesn't tell you that you don't have to belong to their organization, or adhere to it's standards. For example Bell Canada was reprimanded for misleading advertising by Advertising Standards Council. Bell decided to ignore it completely:
However, Bell Mobility justified its absence from the panel's proceedings because the company is not a member of the ASC and therefore not obligated to comply with its procedures.

That said, Bell spokesman Mark Langton explained the company's view that the ASC and Rogers were taking the claim out of context.

"The actual phrase is `fastest and largest network across North America,'" said Langton, explaining that the claim is based on the size of the CDMA network of which Bell is a part.
I can also safely say that very few people know how to file a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada (maybe they could have publicized that?) but they do still get regular complaints. Yet in 2008 almost 1,500 complaints were filed - and they do find someone in violation it is rarely (and barely) publicized. So, basically Canada's advertisers 'tell the truth' except for when they don't and if they don't it doesn't matter if they aren't a part of Advertising Standards Canada and if they are a part of Advertising Standards Canada it matters! It just doesn't matter very much.

So I'm launching a new label, in honor of this campaign, called Truth - under this label I'll put ads I find that are not telling 'the truth, the whole truth and only the truth'. In other words when a post starts with "Truth" it will generally mean I'm calling bullshit.

For more calling of Bullshit try or, of course, the American site Adbusters.

1 comment:

LynX said...

I almost spewed my coffee at reading "truthful, fair and accurate" associated with "advertising". Bullshit is right. I think we should file a complaint against their own misleading ad, see how they manage to spin that one...

BTW, Adbusters is Canadian (Vancouver-based).