Does your advertising commit you to use certain products or places?

If a realtor (or any other sales person) uses a product or business to advertise themselves, do they have a legal and/or ethical obligation to use that product or business exclusively?

Here’s what popped into my head today. 

grocery cartThere are two major grocery stores in my area, and in one of them, a real estate agent has purchased advertisement space on the shopping carts.  Specifically, that person’s ad is the only ad on the cart.  On every cart. 

So I was thinking of potential topics for future blogs today.  I thought, “Hey, why don’t I just write about the two grocery stores in my area, and the benefits of each” and then my brain bopped to the next thought, “Well, that one agent must have decided Grocery Store A was the best one since the advertisements are on the carts in that store only.”

And then I thought, “Well, perhaps that agent shops at both (or neither).  Just because they purchased an advertisement doesn’t necessarily mean that is where they shop.”

Anyway, enough about what I think – my brain is a scary place at times.  The conversation with myself went on and on.

Here’s the question.   If you market yourself in a particular establishment, must you only use that location?  If you shop in another location, are you cheating on your marketing buddy?   

When the American Idol team lifts those Pepsi cups to their lips, are they really drinking Pepsi?  Or perhaps Coke?  Water?  Maybe Jack Daniels?  Do they HAVE to use the product they are marketing?

If I were to buy advertisement space in a local newspaper, but then I was seen reading the rival newspaper (if there was one), would I be violating a stated or not-stated requirement to only use the paper I market in?

My thought – I think I am obligated to use the paper or the grocery store that is basically advertising me.  Perhaps not contractually obligated, but ethically. 

What are your thoughts?

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