Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Advertising Of Experts

Advertising is about creating an illusion. The illusion that if you try this new product not only will you have beautiful shiny hair, sparkling clean floors, or whiter teeth but your whole world will shift. Your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, colleagues will be more in love, envious, charmed with you than ever before.

In that illusion is the notion that the creators of the product know some secret thing you don't have access to.  They are experts. That is their claim. Their competition disagrees. They try to convince you they are the real experts by pointing out the other's flaws instead of their attributes. They confuse things.

So who really is the expert? And what exactly does being an expert mean?

By definition it is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge or skill in a particular area.

My question is who determines that? Today there seems to be a proliferation of individuals who call themselves experts. But are they really? Or is it just another advertising illusion?

I sit here writing this in front of a 21.5 inch Mac with access to information once reserved for offices. I can interface with a variety of social media  that allows me to"advertise" and "promote" globally whatever I want without paying for a copywriter, a graphic designer or advertising time. I can deem myself an expert on whatever I choose. And if I create the right illusion it doesn't matter if I can back it up with fact.

We all seem to be seeking the experts for that secret piece of information that is life altering, that they know and we don't. We don't question the title of expert. We just want the information, that secret elixir.

In these last days before the midterm election we see the airwaves clogged with individuals who claim to be "experts" in government. Some have the credentials, the education and the experience to back it up. Some are creating the illusion as though it was some great magic trick trying to convince you that if elected they will be able to solve all the problems of Washington that no one else before them has ever been able to.

They all promise that our world will be better with them in it, leading the way. I like to believe that some are right. I'm also wise enough to know that some might fool us and until we see them standing with an empty hat and no rabbit we won't know until then the illusion they created.

Having spent  many years in advertising I am more skeptical than most. So I try to do my homework. To read past the ads, and the slanted editorial posing as news reporting before I make my decisions. Whether it is a new toothpaste or a new governor. I search for authenticity. But then I'm no expert.

What do you think makes an expert?
Are you an expert?
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