Can you believe the claims brands make in their advertising? Can you believe the claims brands make on their packaging? Do you blindly believe whatever a brand tells you about their products? How about claims that a product will make you smarter, faster, stronger, more attractive, etc.? Intellectually we know many of these claims cannot possibly be true, but psychologically, we want to believe.
The fact that we are inclined to believe things we want to believe leaves us vulnerable to some unscrupulous marketers who will tell you what want to hear in order to move more product.
To hold brands accountable, we have developed watchdog organizations such as Truth in Advertising, and government commissions like the Division of Advertising at the Federal Trade Commission. For our purchasing decisions, we have become adept at looking to multiple sources of opinion e.g. rating websites, press coverage, and online reviews. In other words, we don’t take advertising claims at face value.
If we are this savvy in our consumer goods purchases, why are we not proportionately so in our political “purchases”! Let me ask the same questions: can you believe claims made by public or political figures on social media? Can you believe the reporting of these same claims in media outlets? Do you blindly believe whatever a public or political figure tells you about any subject matter? How about claims that these things will make you safer, more secure, more successful, happier, etc.? Again, intellectually we may know many of these claims cannot possibly be true, but psychologically we want to believe.
Content is now unprotected advertising. We are granted by our Constitution the right to free speech and the establishment of a free press. These rights are meant to make sure there is no suppression of ideas or opinions, and to guarantee that you will have access to the facts as well as various points of view about what those facts mean. Responsible news organizations seek out and report the facts and hold others accountable to them. They trust but verify.
While news organizations and publications make decisions on what they deem to be news, (and what in the news is most important to their audience) they doso with an ideology that provides the framework for making these judgements.
The bottom line is more people should consult multiple news outlets when deciding where they stand on an issue. If you don’t, you might as well be getting news from a single, state-run news organization controlled by the government that distributes only the information they want you to know, when they want you to know it.
Why, as consumers, do we spend days researching the best television, by consulting a variety of sources, yet when it comes to local, national or world news, we are content to rely on one source? That one source is usually aligned with our world view and in many cases the source has shaped our world view to begin with. Shouldn’t matters that affect our lives and the lives of our friends and family get at least the same scrutiny as a television purchase?
As a marketer, it is a question I ask every day, and so should you.
We must be as vigilant about vetting the news content we consume on television as we are about vetting the information when buying the television.