Truth in advertising in election season

I don’t talk politics on my blog as I believe there is enough good and bad to go around when discussing all politicians and propositions.  The best thing about an election is the day after when the constant barrage of radio and TV commercials finally cease.  I can’t image anyone actually liking so much messaging thrown at them.Most frustrating is the misinformation thrown at us.  When commercials totally contradict one another, it is basic logic that someone is not telling the truth.  Who is right and who is wrong is not the issue.  It is the fact that there seems to be no standards for “truth in advertising” when it comes to election season.

If the FTC, which is responsible for truth in advertising, was charged with fact checking political ads, they would have a field day of levying fines.  But it is simply too much work in too short a timeframe.  And, who’s to say the public is being harmed.  The ads are so nuanced that every ad could put forth an argument that their message is truthful.

In reality deceit rules in political advertising.  But we all know this and we accept it.  We take the barrage of ads with a grain of salt and try to make the best choice we possibly can.

In other words, we ask our friends how they’re voting.

How about loyalty rewards?

We’ve all seen the advertisements from our cell phone carriers, cable TV operators and others.  “Sign up now and get first six months at half off.”  Or, “Discount pricing for new subscribers.”Is it only me, or do other people get annoyed?  After giving a company hundreds, perhaps thousands of your hard-earned dollars for their service, the “thank you” we get is to be cut out of any special deals.  I get why, of course.  They want new customers to sign up and the best way is to give them a deal.  But doesn’t that say to loyal customers that they already made their money from you, and now its time to move on to other people?

What about showing some appreciation to customers who have been loyal; paying their monthly bill month in and month out?  Does that account for anything?

More than once I have seen special offers from companies that I patronize and get excited.  “Wow,” I think.  “I can reduce my bill with this special offer.”  However, when I make the call, the answer is always the same.  It’s only for new customers.  Existing customers don’t count and don’t matter.

A few companies are bucking the trend.  Discover Card gives cash back bonuses based on purchases regardless of how long you’ve been a customer.  Recently I got a call from Discover Card (never like getting a call from my credit card company as it scares me) but it was a customer service representative telling me I had earned $100 in cash back bonuses.  He just wanted to know how I wanted my money.  I said apply it to my balance.  Next month, there was a $100 credit on my bill.  Now that’s a great way to show customer appreciation.

I am sure other companies do the same, but too few.  And, the most egregious violators are cell phone and cable companies that make their money on numbers of subscribers.  They want more customers while at the same time never showing any gratitude for the one’s they have.

And not to mention keeping current customers on hold for hours on end, but that’s for another post.

Can a candidate say anything worthwhile?

In the final two weeks leading up to the presidential election, especially one that is as close as the Obama – Romney contest, the question is whether either candidate dare take the risk of saying anything of substance.  In a world where information travels faster that it can be generated, the slightest misstatement or verbal blunder instantly appears on millions of computers and smart phones for all to see and mock.So as the next president (whomever it is) crisscrosses the country focusing on battleground states, one wonders whether either can or will say anything of substance to sway undecided voters.  This caution was evident in the latest debate where it appeared that Romney was more cautious and nervous than in his two prior debates.  Most attribute this to the fact that he is most comfortable debating domestic economic issues, not foreign policy.  But it was clear that the Romney objective was not to prove he had a better foreign policy strategy, rather to just not say anything that that would go viral.

There is little to learn in the days leading up to the election.  It is all based on emotion, energy and image.  So should we pay attention?

Of course we should.  The result will affect all of us and this election and the candidates are too important to ignore.