Friday, July 01, 2011

Historical false advertising

HT Zachary Schrag:

Richard J. Barber, Technological Change in American Transportation: The Role of Government Action, 50 Virginia Law Review 824, 848 n. 78 (1964)
A 1963-1964 American Airlines commercial proudly declared that the company had spent "a half million dollars" in "the development of a coffee maker to brew a fresh cup of coffee at high altitudes." Thinking this interesting and perhaps commendable, if true, the author investigated. Finally, in a letter from an American executive dated February 12, 1964, to the author, the company acknowledged that the commercial was "not quite complete, since it doesn't make clear that this figure also includes the cost of the hardware itself." A later interview with a company representative revealed that the total price of 410 coffee makers purchased by the company for use on its aircraft came to just about $500,000 (at an average price of $1,160 it would seem they should be gold-plated--but they're not). In the last analysis, American was unable to identify any amounts it had spent on the actual development of the coffee maker. A final word: the American commercial was recently revised; now it claims that the company spent half a million dollars "to develop, manufacture, and install" the coffee maker.
Comments: seems still false, but possibly immaterial; also, Barber’s got a nice style that shows that stultification need not be the fate of the law review.

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