MY CHECKERED resume includes a stint as a Prudential real estate agent, the job that taught me lying is justified if it results in a profit. I was showing a modest house in a bedroom community of DC, and while it was in a good location it had teeny bedrooms. I listed several positive attributes for the Open House newspaper ad, but ended with “snug master.”
My boss had a fit! “The point of the ad is to get people to come,” he railed. “Once they get here they’ll see how small the master bedroom is. But to reel them in, you’ve gotta say it’s huge!” I asked how we would explain that to the customers. “A typo,” was his curt answer.
This principle of lying for profit applies to almost every aspect of modern life, most especially advertising. We all know that false claims abound. Weight loss clubs like Jenny Craig feature a slim spokesperson who gleefully shouts, “I lost 50 pounds!”Meanwhile, the barely legible type at the bottom of the screen whispers, “Results not typical.”
This all came to mind after seeing an ad for Invisalign braces. There is no mention of any discomfort or the fact that dining for pleasure is over since in order to eat you must first endure the horror of removing the braces, no easy task. They do not pop right out! It’s more like you pull with all your might, desperately trying not to damage your teeth or break the damn braces, which apparently can happen. Then you’ve got to brush and floss your teeth and clean the braces before putting them back in. The capper is that you must wear them for 22 hours a day, so those meals—and “special occasions”—better be damn quick.
If they broadcasted all that beforehand, far fewer people would opt in. Oh well, I did—and the good news is that I only have 364 days to go. Also, rumor has it that with the no snacking, quick meals and loss of appetite, by year’s end I’ll be down 10 pounds. (Results typical.)
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.