Advertisements: Buyer Beware

Date: Jan 24, 2019
By: Louise Dyck, Qualified Insolvency Counsellor

Relaxing in front of the television, perusing social media, or walking around town, we’re bombarded with ads telling us what we need and why.  Ads can seem quite convincing until we take a moment to really understand the message.

Retailers tell us to buy new at each holiday or special occasion.  But do we really need what they’re selling?  And do we need it to be new?  And do we need it now?  They tell us to take advantage of the sales.  But are we really saving money if we had no intention to buy the product in the first place?

When I see in one particular ad, “Saving you more,” I’m reminded of a principle my elementary math teacher taught me about problem solving – being incomplete until we added a unit of measurement.  So when I see saving you more, it makes me think, “Something’s not quite right.  Something’s missing.”  We should apply that principle to the ads we see.  Are they saying we’ll save more money?  More money than another retailer, or than in a particular sale, or than they previously sold it for?  Maybe the retailers are banking on the audio and video of their commercials mesmerizing us enough not to notice what they’re really saying.

You have money, and the retailers want it.  Everybody seems to tell us they’re offering the best prices.  But are they?  They can’t all be selling at the lowest cost.  They’re savvy in their marketing techniques.  We ought to be equally savvy in discerning the message, not lazy, uninformed or passive.  It’s up to us to exercise “buyer beware” before we even get to the buying stage.

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