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Ad Truth Field Assignment

AD TRUTH FIELD ASSIGNMENT: Assessing Truth in Advertising

You are instructed to respond to an offer made by an advertiser, and then to evaluate the quality of the interaction. This exercise addresses the issues of ?truth in advertising? and of ?ethical conduct? on the part of merchants. Follow the guidelines below.

1. Find an advertised offer for something you are interested in. It could be ?Free umbrella tote? when you open an account at Commerce.
2. Respond to the offer. For example, actually go to Dunkin Donut to get your Everything Bagel at half price on Sunday.
3. Note the demeanor of the first person serving you, as for example, the attitude of the sales assistant at Circuit City who greets you when you come in to purchase the Flash Drive, as advertised, at 10% off.
4. Give the truth of the offer a score, from 1 to 5, with 5 the highest. For example, if you respond to an offer of ?second lunch entrée at half price,? and the waiter or waitress informs you that it doesn't apply in your case because your first entrée was under $10 (but that detail wasn't made clear in the ad), you would score it, a ?1.?
5. Score the attitude of the person or person(s) serving you from 1 to 5. In the example, above, for example, the waiter or waitress may be apologetic and accommodating, but if he or she throws in a ?put down? saying something along the order of, ?were you born yesterday?? and you feel the sting, you would probably score her attitude ?3? or under.
6. Write up your experience in a report that follows these categories:

1. The Offer:
2. My Response:
3. First Impression:
4. Truth of Offer:
5. Attitude of Server:

(Staple a copy of or the original print ad, direct mailing, FSI, or flyer or whatever of the offer to your report. If it's a broadcast offering, simply write a paragraph describing the details of the offer.)

(Example)

The Last of the Red Hot Shredders

1. OFFER: Staples ran a Sunday newspaper insert offering a free shredder with the purchase of a laser printer.

2. MY RESPONSE: The timing was ideal. My Epson color printer was giving me headaches, and I was on the verge of tossing it. I realized for my needs, the color was unnecessary. The Hewlett-Packard LaserJet1200 in my office at Temple worked like a charm. And I wanted one just like it for my home office. So on Tuesday morning I set out for Staples to purchase a Hewlett-Packard, and to get my free shredder.

3. FIRST IMPRESSION: No one was around to help me. So I went and found a guy who looked like he was in charge of the electronic section. He followed me over to the area and was cordial but slightly paternalistic when he declared, "They don't make the 1200 any more." Oh? "But, here. The 1300 is the latest version." He convinced me that I really had no choice. In reviewing the ad, sure enough, the caption under the printer stated "1300." And nowhere in the ad could I find the "1200." As I scrutinized the floor model 1300, trying to remember how, if at all, the 1200 differed, and whether or not the 1300 would perform the same, the Staples guy drifted off.

4. TRUTH OF OFFER: I gingerly set down the box containing my new Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1300 on the checkout counter, and asked, "Don't I get a free shredder with this?" The clerk said, "Let me see," and examined the ad. "Yes, sir," she responded. "Gary, could you get the shredder that goes with this purchase?" Gary joined us and took a peek at the ad. "I think we're out of 'em just now," he ventured. I begin to think of bad things like "bait and switch," as Gary disappeared, apparently to confirm the absence of the shredders.

Gary returned. No shredders. They were sorry. Could I come in on Saturday? That's when the manager would be bringing in more shredders from one of their other outlets. They gave me a slip affirming my right to the next available shredder.

I arrived Saturday morning. Oops! The manager couldn't make it in. Could I come back tomorrow? Determined to get my shredder, I returned Sunday morning at around 11:30. The manager was there; she had my shredder. (It was smaller than I thought it would be.)

SCORE: 3. Staples in fact delivered what was promised. But my expectation of the truth was that the shredder would be in the store at the time I purchased the printer.

5. ATTITUDE OF SERVER(S): I give them a 3. They were polite and cordial. But given the delay in delivering my shredder, I expected them to be abjectly apologetic, and frankly, I don't remember them ever saying they were sorry.

Solution Preview

AD TRUTH FIELD ASSIGNMENT: Assessing Truth in Advertising

You are instructed to respond to an offer made by an advertiser, and then to evaluate the quality of the interaction. This exercise addresses the issues of "truth in advertising" and of "ethical conduct" on the part of merchants. Follow the guidelines below.

1. Find an advertised offer for something you are interested in. It could be "Free umbrella tote" when you open an account at Commerce.

For this portion of your assignment, you must locate an advertisement which promises you something for free, or at a much-reduced cost, if you will buy their product. In my town in Morocco, north Africa, often merchants will offer a small freebie gift with purchase so that customers will come into their shops and buy, rather than the shop next door or across the street. The same thing happens with businesses in the U.S. All of those BOGO (buy one, get one free or half off) offers that you see advertised on television (Payless Shoes is an excellent example) are this sort of shop-at-my-store offers. Unless you need two pairs of shoes right now, I would choose an offer that will cost you less money. Perhaps try one of the less-costly offers that are advertised at discount gasoline chains like Racetrack. They like to make offers such as get the giant soft-drink size for the same cost as the medium size, and responding to this soft of offer will cost you less than two dollars. You need to choose a low-cost offer, because for this assignment, you must actually buy the product, AND PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE OF THE ADVERTISEMENT. Most of the offers from the discount gasoline chains are broadcast on the radio or television, so your "example" could be a written description of the advertisement, as your assignment ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides guidelines to help the student respond to the advertising assignment as well as discussed examples to guide the students response.

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