According to the following article, the brain training company Lumosity was required to pay 2 million dollars in settlements by the Federal Trade commission to it’s customers, who under investigation showed that they were being mislead by the company’s marketing claims. Lumosity claimed that the brain training games would boost performance at work or at school, that it would even help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the organization just did not have the proof to back up any of these claims.
Lumosity to pay $2M to settle deceptive ‘brain training’ ad allegationsAnalyzing this case through an ethical lens, shows that this company was willing to mislead it’s target audience of consumers who are concerned about their risk of cognitive decline, and took advantage of this by making exaggerated claims about what their brain training games could do for them. This form of deceit would fall under the category of Solomon’s vicious falsehood because this lie was not at all obvious, due to the organization’s convincing claims being broadcasted through every media outlet.
This article was upsetting to me, because I’m in the field of Advertising and public relations, and to know that a staff of individuals who never stopped to reflect on if it was ethical to be making these claims when they had not conducted the research to prove it would run an organization as large as Lumosity. It’s unfortunate, because as the book already mentions, advertisers have a reputation for lying in forms of withholding the full truth or idealizing products, but a core value in effective communication is transparency and it’s disappointing to know that brands are undervaluing professional ethics in their business model.