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  • DATE July 25, 2013
  • URL oneinstitute.com/tile/truth-telling/

Truth Telling

Steve Turner says the most important thing to ask about advertising is whether its claims are true

Contemporary advertising doesn’t work by supplying information that can either be verified or discredited, but by suggesting a mood, forging an association or implying the possibility of change. When the advertisers decided to promote Marlboro cigarettes by using tough-looking cowboys, they knew the fear they needed to counteract was that smoking was dirty and unhealthy. They couldn’t create a campaign saying their cigarettes were clean and lengthened your life—that would have been too brazen a lie and would have drawn attention to its opposite—so they showed ruggedly healthy looking men smoking Marlboros against magnificent Wild West back-drops. The goal was to get people, mostly men, to associate smoking with power, hard work, good health and the outdoor life.

The same is true for the advertising of other products. The ads rarely tell us what the product actually does but suggest that buying it will give us a higher standing among our peers, make us more attractive to the opposite sex or provide access to a more exciting life-style. They may also exploit our fears of being unfashionable, un-popular or out of tune with our times.

Read the full article at Q Ideas