Does that sound boring? If so, stick with me—it gets better! Some years ago Bruce Barton shared this story:
"One day when I was young in advertising, I slipped a piece of paper into my typewriter and wrote an advertisement for a life insurance company. It was addressed to young husbands and fathers. One of coupons received in reply came from a traveler in Rio de Janeiro, whose home was in New Jersey. He was 38 years old, married, and father of three children. He wanted information on a policy that, in case of his death, would guarantee his family an income of $3,000 a year." (I told you this was written some years ago!) "On man's return to New Jersey, policy was written and first payment made. A few days later he went to his dentist to have a wisdom tooth extracted. Somehow cavity became infected, infection spread and he died.
"That incident made a deep impression on me. Many times in intervening years I have been reminded that somewhere in New Jersey there are a mother and three children, now grown up, who, without slightest suspicion of my existence, have had their whole lives changed by fact that one day I put together some words that were printed in a magazine, and read in a faraway country by their husband and father, who was influenced to do what I suggested.
"It is a terrific power we wield, we men and women in advertising; it needs to be handled carefully, truthfully, sometimes even prayerfully. It is one of most potent of all forces that, for better or worse, can influence and change human lives."
Mr. Barton deserves kudos for his recognition of kind of power that advertisers and marketers possess. And while we are recognizing that power for tremendous force that it is, we also need to be sure that each of us is wholly aware of awesome responsibility that accompanies this power.
First and foremost, advertising should be truthful and make every attempt NOT to mislead reader. Never ever lead a reader into thinking they are to receive one thing, when—in brutal fact—they are to receive another, whether that refers to quality, quantity, color, texture, appearance, brand, or any other variable.