This was an incident from years ago, which somehow just popped into my head. An ad agency I had done some freelance work for was going through a rough patch. So in anticipation of a prospective client showing up that afternoon, they rounded up a bunch of us writers and art directors that had done work for them previously. They had us sit at desks while pretending that we were working on various accounts. The agency thinking was that it would show how busy and thriving the ad agency was. Because no one wants to give his business to a shop that is perceived to be struggling.
I always admired the ad agency’s pluck, and doubted whether I could have pulled off the same stunt if I had needed to. Or had thought of it.
The larger point is whether you think this scheme was a good idea.
The ad agency never actually said all these people were employees, though that certainly was the impression they had stage-managed. But they had indeed intentionally misrepresented the truth, to help their business.
Sometimes it’s just a question of scale. When people ask, “How’s business?” who doesn’t exaggerate slightly to look a little better? And often the more audacious the stunt, the more rewarding the results. As in the “If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly” school of behavior.
Not certain where to draw the line? I guess the more likely that the deception will hurt people, the less likely you should be to do it.
Got the idea?