One of the challenges of living in an advanced, globalized, and industrialized society is the proliferation of advertising of many kinds. Advertising should be true in every sense of the word. At the very least, it should be free from falsehood about the nature of the product/service. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of advertising that is dishonest in today’s media saturated world. Even if advertising is true, it often stretches the truth through exaggeration, or uses questionable techniques to gain the interest and/or attention of as many people as possible.
Vector Marketing provides an example of ‘caveat emptor’ (let the buyer beware) advertising, such as that in the image below and found at URL: http://www.ripoffreport.com/d/0e64be83-2560-4058-aff4-228fa9546ac0/vectormtkgad.jpg?thumb. This advertisement is too good to be true, because it promises high pay with no requirement of experience. This company has not delivered on its promises in the past.
This conduct is unethical. While the advertisement describes ‘excellent starting pay,’ historical employee remuneration belies this claim. “A survey done by the state of Wisconsin found that employees who sold cutlery for Vector earned less than $3 a day (on average)” (http://ourstreets.net/2013/05/26/vector-cutco-caveat-emptor/, 2014). This is far below minimum wage considering that each employee worked five or six hours per day on average.
The advertisement is seeking workers by offering an unrealistically high amount of money in comparison to the low required effort described. It does not mention the difficult work, low wages, or required startup kit, “usually [costing] $145” (http://ourstreets.net/2013/05/26/vector-cutco-caveat-emptor/, 2014). Employment advertising should accurately describe the conditions of and compensation provided by the employment. This advertisement unethically motivates readers with a lie about the potential to earn a lot of money.
This advertisement crosses the ethical line because it is deceptive, and derives its success through the use of blatant lies. Many have discovered this through experience, and there is now an online petition “created in an attempt to stop the dishonest company, Vector Marketing/Cutco Cutlery, and [to] prevent the company from scamming any more innocent college students (victims)” (http://www.petitiononline.com/vector/petition.html, 2014). The site boasts 19,126 signatures so far. Vector Marketing’s abuse of advertising illustrates that consumers and potential employees must be wary of all advertising claims, especially those that are too good to be true.