Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Double Standards in Advertising

Have you ever thought about how bent out of shape we get when we think that someone has used a bait and switch advertising technique on us. We don't like it and we have taken it to the point that there are laws prohibiting it in the marketplace. Nationally we have the Federal Trade Commission which regulates advertising and sales in the interstate commerce area. Most states and many municipalities also prohibit such behavior in the local market place.

Yet we willingly suspend our outrage in one arena of advertising. The most despised ads in the country are political ads. If a company is advertising a new formulation of soap for example - they don't trash their competitors product as a general rule. They build on the brand recognition of the old formula and highlight the improved capabilities of the new. In politics however we see most ads fall into one of two categories ad hominem attacks - literally an admission that we have no new ideas so we are attacking the person. And strawman attacks where the ads paint demonstrably false picture of the opponent and urges voters to kick the bum out because he voted against some program or because he voted for some other program.

In the recently concluded presidential campaign both candidates ran on a "change" platform. The principal reason for this is the overwhelmingly negative perception of the current President's policies and actions. Throughout the primary season the winning candidates for both parties ran on radical (for their party) change platforms. Now that the people have spoken, and the winner of this contest prepares to sit in one of the hottest hot seats in global politics, we see that much of the change that was promised seems to be evaporating. As yet however there has been little outrage from either side on the remarkable similarity to the status quo ante bellum.

I've said it before, not that it is original to me: "Insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result." I'm not sure how or even if our current political process can be changed. I don't think we should let candidates for office get away with things that we won't let businesses get away with. The various "fact check" type programs, and web sites are a step in the right direction but most of the one's I saw this year were produced by biased sources.

The floor is open for discussion of practical methods of reclaiming political campaigns from the mud pit that they have become.

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