Lie or Just Good Advertising?

Oct 4, 2009
by: Isabelle
We all lie. But exactly qualifies as lying?
Lie: (n.) a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth Definition of 'Lie'

This definition still leaves a huge gray area. Does a little white lie, told to spare someone's feelings, count? In English class, I've recently started reading UnSpun, and it has added more questions to this gray area. Does advertising count as lying? How about political campaigning?

"Respect for facts isn't a major concren in the advertising industry, and is far too rare in politics...The legendary adman (David Ogilvy) said he was 'continuously guilty of suppressio veri.' That translates from Latin as 'suppression of truth,' and it sums up a lot of what we see in commercial advertising."
But is the "suppression of truth" ethically wrong? Is it wrong to present certain true facts (i.e. a product kills germs), but omit others (i.e. a product, in certain case studies, has been shown to turn your hands green)?  Needless to say, there is something dishonest is choosing to ignore certain facts with the direct intention of influening (or manipulating) someone, but is it truly lying? After all, the point of politcal campaigning or marketing is to influence voters or consumers, and they'll be less likely to vote for or buy from you if you show them the ugly side of your candidate's position or the defects of your product. If advertisers were entirely forthcoming about their products, would consumers still buy?