Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free airline tickets? Sweet!

I'm so gullible. The other day I received a suspicious looking letter in my mailbox; printed on the outside in black and gray, sealed on all sides by tear-away perforations and adorned with an icon reminiscent of the US Supreme Court building, above, the words Department of Internal something or other; I thought it was something official. Actually, to be real, I thought the IRS was after me.

So I open the the letter and what do I see? Two giant logos, one of United Airlines, and the other of CheapTickets.com. Directly in the middle of these logos is a simple "Congratulations, you have won two airline tickets!", a confirmation number and some statement about me previously signing up via email for this. Yeah, ok.

The thing that got me I suppose was this reference to me initiating contact and the giant CheapTickets.com logo, clearly signifying that this deal came from Cheap Tickets, a company everyone knows is legit. At this point the visual of the Supreme Court icon should have come back to me, but it didn't. What did I do? I called them.

Here is how the conversation went...

Me: "Hi, I got this letter and it says I'm supposed to give you a confirmation number to claim my free airline tickets?"

Scam artist: "Uh huh, are you married?

Me: "Uh, yeah"

Scam artist: "What is your annual salary?"

Me: "What?, why would you need to know that?"

Scam artist: "We need you to attend a 3 hour long seminar, free of charge in order to receive your prize..."

Me: Click.

So why am I writing about this? Three words, deception in advertising. Some shady company hired some shady agency to put this piece together for them. The concept? To plainly and simply trick the recipient into believing this was something in which it wasn't. I'm sure the creative brief read something like, Objectives: rip off US Government document look, insert two logos from credible companies (i smell a lawsuit) and suggest that the viewer instigated this communication. Have you half-wits no ethics?

Sure, there are tons of these "scam" mailers out there. And I am usually pretty good at weeding through them. But as someone in the advertising industry it made me stop and reflect. Let it be known that should any client come to our door seeking to consciously deceive their market, they will promptly be escorted out. At Handcrafted we take pride in producing material that is ethically responsible and we stand behind what our clients have to say as truth.

I know, I'm gullible. But, if these sort of advertisements continually evolve in this direction, we will all just become cynics and come to believe that everything is a lie, when it isn't.

Miles McIlhargie

1 comment:

g said...

Well written Miles! Well written!