It’s still possible to market lies to the masses and get away with it

June 2016

It’s often said that the digital age has left businesses and institutions with nowhere to hide if they tell lies and don’t do a good job. In part that’s certainly true, and there’s no better example than the way TripAdvisor has raised the standards in the hotel and restaurant industry.

But ‘nowhere to hide’ is only the case if folk actually care about being lied to, or bother to do some research if they do care. A case in point are furniture retailers and in particular DFS, who have grown big and successful by largely telling fibs. Now I don’t doubt that their sofas are decent enough and probably pretty good value, but half price pretty-much all the time? No; that’s only possible to claim when the product is put at an artificially ‘full price’ in one or two stores for the legally required time to make the claim. And interest free credit and nothing to pay for a year? All bullshit of course: the cost of the credit is built into the price.

Some DFS customers will know this and not care (they just want their comfy new sofa in time to watch the telly from on Christmas day), with others not knowing because, well, they’re gullible and easily fooled. The former probably did some research online, with the latter more interested in using Facebook to post a picture of what they’re having for dinner (or ‘tea’ in their case).

This is all fine because, as it happens, it’s good for the economy. We don’t all shop in John Lewis and thank goodness we don’t in the name of retail diversity. But marketing lies to the masses can have more serious consequences, and I’d wager that there will be no greater example this century than the Brexit leave campaign.

As anyone knows that’s been paying attention, the typical person that voted to leave the EU was older, poorly educated, on a low income and reads the Sun or the Daily Mail. And note the word ‘typical’ as I’m fully aware that some very smart and affluent people of all ages also voted for Brexit – and perhaps you’re just such a person. However, all the statistics show a clear divide and that’s not up for debate.

The reality of what leaving the EU means for our country is now becoming clearer to those that voted for it, and whilst some will still be celebrating for years to come, there’s no question that others are regretting their choice. Those same people may also now be realising that a) they were being lied to, and b) perhaps doing a bit of research rather than believing Nigel Farage and the headlines of Tuesday’s Sun would have been no bad thing. It’s also both unfortunate and ironic that it’s the same people that will now suffer the most financially.

Is there any sort of correlation between the average DFS customers and average Brexit voters? I’d put money on it, and whilst I’ll forgive these people for their choice of sofa retailer, I won’t be forgiving them anytime soon for their xenophobia and the long-term economic damage they’ve done to our country – not to mention the potential breakup of the United Kingdom.

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