There’s something that has always bothered me in advertising. It’s not the lies, those seem to eventually get weeded out by some government organization or consumer advocacy group. The thing I’m talking about are half-truths where the advertiser tells us one thing and omits another. This Andy Capp cartoon talks about one of them; one that I have had plenty of experience with.
Banks, insurance companies, financial advisors, credit card companies and the slew of other financial services companies that inundate our airwaves, web pages and newspapers, keep telling us how wonderfully welcoming they are. They tell us how much they look out for our best interest. And they do so with caveat emptor. They don’t tell us, for instance, that we will lend you money, if you already have money. They might tell us that we will be covered for $500,000 for $20 a month without telling us that this is term vs. whole life insurance. They don’t lie outright, they just paint a pretty picture and omit what’s out of frame. It’s like me telling you how strong I am by showing you my biceps. I do have strong, toned biceps but pan over and down slightly and you see the belly.
Half truths are, in my books, as misleading as outright lies.
Knowing the law is another one of those half truth problems in society. We are all told that we cannot be ignorant of the law. Really? Have you seen national, state and local laws? I’m going to guess, and this is just a guess, that where I live in Maryland, if you combined all the laws that affect me, it would likely be in the five to ten thousand page range. Someone here in the room suggests it might be double. Let’s assume it’s even half, that’s still insane. There is no way we can learn all these laws, nor should we. And yet, should you mistakenly feed your horse on a Sunday in the streets of a little town not far from here, you’ll be fined.
I’m not sure I have an answer for the bank half truth or the laws half truth paradigms but I do know that we live in an era where there is simply too much noise and we cannot be expected to know all there is to know and those who know that we don’t know should not be taking advantage of us.