Monday, August 9, 2010

smells like chicken...

Jeff Willhelm/The Charlotte Observer/AP

If what you're smelling while driving on North Carolina Highway 150 is making you hungry, it's no accident. Advertisers have rigged a billboard along the highway in Mooresville, N.C., to emit the smell of charcoal and pepper during morning and afternoon rush hours to entice motorists to buy steak from a nearby Bloom grocery store....believed to be the nation's first billboard advertisement to incorporate smell.


At August 9, 2010 at 10:22 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

In the future, freedom from advertising will be considered to be a fundamental human right. (I'm not entirely serious. But I wish …)

At August 10, 2010 at 7:06 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

In a world of imperfect information, advertising is helpful in providing info, but can be unhelpful in providing (highly) distorted info.

There was an interesting study, years ago, about vegetable prices being higher during newspaper strikes.

At August 10, 2010 at 8:15 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

You are right that advertising can be unhelpful by being dishonest. But there's an interesting irony here, pointed out by Oreskes and Conway in their book Merchants of Doubt: the free market depends on its participants having good information, but misleading public relations campaigns interfere with that. This problem is serious in public policy debates, because some players do indeed lie. One familiar example is the extraordinary and well-documented efforts by the tobacco companies to confuse the public on the link between smoking and diseases such as lung cancer—when internal tobacco documents make clear that the companies themselves knew the links were real. A more recent example is the claim, repeated through libertarian and pro-business websites, that DDT is harmless but its ban killed millions of people. (The truth is highly different: DDT had already lost most of its effectiveness by the time it was banned, and it was not banned overseas where malaria remained a problem. This is detailed in Merchants of Doubt.)

At August 10, 2010 at 9:30 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Imperfect information is a key characteristic in all facets of life, including both economic markets and political-economic markets. To the extent that people are not moral/honest, then they will take advantage of info asymmetries, market power, and esp. the power of govt to enrich themselves at the expense of others.


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