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Foreign Exchange

Lies, damned lies and marketing

When I was doing my journalism course, I was told by one of the tutors that newspapers were a good source for checking facts. After I’d stopped laughing and picked myself up from the floor, I argued that, generally, whenever I read a report about any topic I knew about, it was invariably inaccurate.

Perhaps arrogantly, I like to think that this column is more reliable. But the reason for that is not because of my knowledge, but rather because I will ring up and ask people questions and, if I don’t understand what they’re telling me, get them to explain, if possible, in words of one syllable.

The reason I do this is because if I read anything that is blatantly inaccurate, I see no reason to believe anything else contained in the story. I feel the same about corporate websites. Clearly, these are used as marketing tools, so it is inevitable that they will be full of hyperbole – or as I prefer to call it, hyperbollocks. However, in the UK at least, they are subject to guidelines published by the Advertising Standards Authority.

I was looking at one site this week. On my therapist’s advice, I won’t name and shame the particular company, but I doubt most of its claims would pass ASA scrutiny if they were reported. I have already pointed out a couple of factual inaccuracies to the company’s marketing manager. This week I told him: “On the timeline (on your website), you mention that the CME offered the first electronic platform for futures trading.

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