TRUTH IN ADVERTISING [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—In
Miss Dorothy Sayers' brilliant article, " The Psychology of Advertising," there is one sentence which moves me to comment. The advertiser, she says, " must not tell lies that draw upon him the attention of the Home Office Analyst or make statements that the purchaser can promptly disprove for himself." The Home Office Analyst, however, is concerned with only one small class of lies ; and how many advertising statements can the consumer prove or disprove for himself ? To gauge the quality of manufactured goods is seldom an easy task ; usually it demands some expert knowledge and often a laboratory test.
In the United States there are two organisations, Consumers Union and Consumers Research, which carry out such tests on behalf of their members. Anyone can join and receive regular reports on all sorts of current products. I have subscribed for a year now to Consumers Union ; its tests are very thorough and there is good evidence for believing them to be impartial. The results are very often devastating to advertising claims, including claims made for some of the best known and most widely advertised commodities on the American market. I only wish a similar consumers' research organisation existed in this country. Without it, the consumer has no chance' of meeting advertisers on anything like equal
terms .—Yours faithfully, CHARLES DAVY. Birch Hay, Clzelsfidd, Kent.