What's Wrong With Putting A Fake Ad In A Newspaper?

from the people-are-too-sensitive dept

Last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News (both owned by the same media company) ran full page ads for a "new" airline called Derrie-Air that had a unique selling point: pay what you weigh. Different routes had different prices that were all per pound. The idea was that the lighter you (and your luggage) were, the less you would have to pay. The only thing is that the airline doesn't actually exist (which I assume anyone with a very slight knowledge of the French language could probably figure out from the name of the airline).

So why did the newspapers do this? It was actually as a test, to see how well advertisements in the paper could drive people to a website. The whole thing sounds like a good (and funny) way to test that out. But, of course, any time you trick some people, someone's going to get upset -- and that's exactly what's happening. Suddenly people are charging the company with some sort of ethical lapse for not making it clear the ad was fake. Of course, if they did that, the whole purpose of the ad would have been lost.

Plus, it's difficult to see what the "harm" is. If a few people thought it was real, they would quickly be disabused of that notion, with no harm done. The people complaining that this would somehow make people trust the news in the paper less apparently haven't been paying attention to the various reporting scandals over the past few years. People have plenty of reasons not to trust the news that they read. Seeing a fake (and mildly amusing) ad in a paper isn't going to make them trust the newspapers any less.

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  1. identicon
    David, 12 Jun 2008 @ 7:09am

    stupid people

    One thing I have learned after working in the theme park industry is that people are stupid. I used to work at the Jurassic Park Ride at Universal and we actually had a guest, a woman in her 40's, believe the dinosaurs were real. She took pictures of it and showed her friends and after they called her an idiot for believing they were real she complained to Universal. We actually got a verbal warning for convincing her they were real. Even though part of our jobs was to pretend the dinosaurs were real, we apparently did it too well. People will believe everything, and you will always have someone dumb enough to believe it and then complain that they fell for it.

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