Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why I hate Advertising

I realized opening the mail today that it's almost gotten to the point that I don't take a central claim of any advertising straightforwardly. Advertising is purposefully deceptive almost 100% of the time. I got a letter from Wells Fargo today which said right at the top:


You have the right to a free credit report from or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law.

It's placed top-center because it gives the impression that "THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW" applies to the entire page. The referent for "THIS" is intentionally ambiguous. The font from the first line is set apart from what is written below it. What is below is an advertising for a $12.99 credit protection service. It took me about 30 seconds to figure out that the letter was in fact an advertisement for a paid service. I'd imagine that a fairly high percentage of subscribers to this service through the letter weren't totally clear on why they were sent the letter or what they were doing in sending it back.

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