Tag Archives: The Trivial Trap

“Start The Car!” Ethics

“Start the car!” shouts the woman in a ubiquitous IKEA TV commercial for its “Winter Sale.” She has received her receipt, and  the total is so low that she assumes there has been a mistake.  She quickly exits the store with bags of purchases, and while running calls to her husband in the car outside so he will pick her up and hit the gas before someone comes to reclaim the merchandise or demand more payment. As they drive away with what she thinks are her ill-gotten gains, she lets out a whoop of triumph.

The narration explains that IKEA’s sale prices are so low, this how you will feel.

The commercial is unethical. It trivializes and normalizes theft, and rejects the ethical values of honesty, integrity and responsibility. Apparently the ad has been running internationally for a long time (it only just started showing up in my region) and is very popular. Writes one industry commentator, “People relate to the message because at one point or another while shopping we’ve all had that feeling that we just got away with something.”

Really? I haven’t. My father didn’t either (my mom was another story.) I’ve told waitresses and clerks that they undercharged me. I’ve returned excessive change. I’ve handed back money to tellers when two bills stuck together. You don’t? What the hell’s the matter with you? Were you raised by Fagin?

Though the commercial was a hit and positively accepted in all of the nations where it was viewed, there is hope:  it also received many negative comments and complaints. An Advertising Standards Board—I cannot for the life of me find out which; the U.S. has no such board. I’m guessing Sweden— thus considered whether this advertisement breached   its Advertisers Code of Ethics.

The breach would be that the commercial isn’t socially responsible, since it represents taking merchandise from a store that hasn’t been fully paid for as normal and acceptable conduct. The Board viewed the advertisement in light of the complaints and decided that the ad was ethically inoffensive.

Guess why.

No, go ahead, guess.

Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

The Circus, The Animal Lovers, And The Saint’s Excuse

Ringlings_Elephant

Animal rights groups just paid a large price for falling prey to #13 on the Rationalization List, The Saints Excuse, which is described in part thusly..

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal…The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

And thus it was that  in 2000 a former Ringling Brothers circus worker filed a lawsuit claiming that the circus’s elephants were abused, just as animal rights groups have long claimed. It was later determined that he had been paid at least $190,000 by the animal rights groups, including the Humane Society, the Fund for Animals and the ASPCA, to back their charges. This is illegal. This is unethical. After a 2009 trial found that the abuse allegations could not be proved, the circus sued for legal fees. The ASPCA paid Ringling Bros. $9.3 million in a settlement in 2012, and now the other groups will have to cough up $16 million. They got what they deserved. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement