Student Question

Is advertising deceptive?

Expert Answers

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Not all advertising is deceptive.  However, most advertising is at least trying to persuade you to do something you otherwise would not do.

Some advertisements are simply informative.  These are things like a grocery store’s ads in the paper that show their prices.  There is no way that it is deceptive to show the prices that your store is actually charging for a given product on a given day.

Most ads, however, are more clearly trying to persuade.  However, not all of these are deceptive.  For example, I see in a magazine in front of me right now an ETRADE ad.  There is nothing that is deceptive about this ad.  It shows an aluminum soda can with a stock chart on it with the legend "See It.  Scan It.  Trade It."  It is simply saying that ETRADE has an application by which you can view the performance of a company’s stock by scanning its barcode.  Assuming the application really does this, there is no deception involved.

However, the ad is trying to persuade you that it is a good idea to engage in day trading using ETRADE. This may or may not be deceptive, depending on what you think of day trading.  This shows us that not all ads are clearly trying to deceive anyone on factual matters.  However, they are trying to get people to do things they do not already intend to do.

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