American business ethics in general are scarcely a subject for national pride, but advertising is probably the only branch of industry in which it has been shamelessly acknowledged that honesty is not the best policy. Any encouragement of sincerity and reliability in advertising has been greatly needed, and it is regrettable that the Bok Awards made by the Harvard Business School are to be discontinued.
With few exceptions, the public has remained the dupe of widespread dishonesty in advertising. Sometimes the none too subtle flattery of "American intelligence" does the trick. In one instance the romantic suggestion that ginger ale "aged six months" rivals fine Sauterne and that other brands are as unwholesome as very green apples was evidently successful enough to warrant the expense of a nation-wide campaign. This dishonesty in spirit is surpassed in many cases by willful misstatements of facts.
There is little hope that advertisers will abate their efforts to sell the wayfaring man things he does not want, but determined public protest ought to stop actual falsification. Although individual Bok Awards have been severely criticized, in general they have probably had a wholesome influence on the standard of advertising ethics. Those firms which continue to insist on integrity in advertising will deserve even greater honor because they do so without hope of direct financial reward.