Thursday, November 7, 2019

The best article you'll read today about End User License Agreements.

For all the contemporary disdain most people have for the ad industry, there was a time, I believe, that the more enlightened precincts in the industry tried to treat people with respect.

They told the truth.

They didn't steal from people.

They didn't bait and switch.

They didn't scream or bully.

Of course not every ad, not every advertiser, not everyone involved. There were always and will always be people of ill repute.

But there were advertisers and agencies that tried. McCann's slogan, for instance, was "truth well told." And Bob Levenson of DDB wrote these words in a house ad headlined, "Do This Or Die": 

"Telling the truth about a product demands a product that's worth telling about. Sadly, so many products aren't ... advertising only helps a bad product fail faster ... unless we change, the tidal wave of consumer indifference will wallop into the mountain of advertising and manufacturing drivel. That way we die."

Then there was Ed McCabe--who went after the truth like Diogenes of yore. His agency, Scali, McCabe, Sloves, produced the Volvo ad above.

No asterisks.

Think about that. No asterisks means you're hiding nothing. It means no 'yeah, buts.' It means at it's simplest, you're telling the truth in as unambiguous way as you can.

I've been hearing a lot lately about a social media video app called TikTok. I went online yesterday to check it out.

First I was shown TikTok's End User License Agreement. ("End User" would be a great name for a pornographic movie.)

TikTok's Agreement for US users is 25,958 words long. A normal book has 250 words per page. So TikTok's License is almost 104 pages long.

The Magna Carta is 4647 words long--about 1/5 the length of TikTok's EULA.

The US Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and all 27 Amendments is 8327 words long--about 1/3 the length of TikTok's EULA.

What does it say about the products we advertise, the products we buy when in order to sell them we have to append more legal copy than body copy, more legal copy than the two greatest legal documents of Western civilization. 

It's not just social media sites. Every ad from every telco. Every car ad that has a price. Virtually every ad is so full of bullshit it has to have a mile of legal copy along with it to inch inches closer to something that resembles something that is almost wholly ugly and false.

"Trust me," he lied.

All of this comes from a single :30.

Recently there was a great piece in the failing "New York Times," which, by the way has 4.7 million digital subscribers.
In it, the writer, Kevin Litman-Navarro, read 150 "Privacy" Policies. You can read the article here.

Here are some of the charts I've pulled out of the article.
This one shows how long it would take an average reader to read a company's Privacy Policy.

This one rates the difficulty or ease of comprehension.

Another assessment of degree of difficulty.

And all the data in one place.

As Raphael Sabatini said about Scaramouche so many decades ago, "He was born with a gift of laughter and the sense that the world is mad."

I don't know much about laughter anymore in advertising, but it's clear that our world is mad.

To me all this legal copy, all these asterisks make one thing very clear. 

In the modern world, we no longer buy products.

We are the product.


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