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Honesty In Advertising

( Originally Published 1898 )

There is probably no merchant in the United States who is not called upon from time to time to put an advertisement into a programme of a church fair or of some entertainment given by a secret society or a labor organization.

The people who get these things up are often perfectly honest in their intentions. They may honestly believe that their advertising is worth something. On the other hand, there are some who know that what they are selling has no commercial value.

These things are quite frequently a mild sort of blackmail—sometimes they are not so mild. Sometimes a solicitor for a labor programme, for instance, insinuates more or less plainly that unless the advertisement is taken the merchant refusing will be blacklisted, or boycotted, by the union. There is very little doubt that these solicitors are overstepping their authority, and that . the intelligent and reasonable members of the union they misrepresent would not countenance these methods.

Business men all say that, such things are an annoyance and that they don't pay, but only here and there is one who has the necessary nerve to refuse to have anything to do with them.

Money paid for such things should not be charged to advertising at all. The bookkeeper should open an account for charity or blackmail or whatever he chooses, so long as it isn't advertising.

A safe rule to go by is, never put an advertisement into anything where you cannot trace a direct result. When somebody tells you that it is impossible to trace results tell them they are mistaken. If you put your ad into a good newspaper you can tell exactly what it brings you if you try. A paper that is read for the news that is in it will always bring direct returns for properly managed advertising, which is only another kind of news.

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