Cover by Joel Spolsky

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thirty-sevenSTRATEGY LETTER II:CHICKEN-AND-EGG PROBLEMS

WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 2000

The idea of advertising is to lie without getting caught. Most companies, when they run an advertising campaign, simply take the most unfortunate truth about their company, turn it upside down ("lie"), and drill that lie home. Let's call it "proof by repeated assertion." For example, plane travel is cramped and uncomfortable and airline employees are rude and unpleasant, indeed the whole commercial air system is designed as a means of torture. So almost all airline ads are going to be about how comfortable and pleasant it is to fly and how pampered you will be every step of the way. When British Airways showed an ad with a businessman in a plane seat dreaming that ...

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