I suppose this ad is an example of an implied endorsement.
By including Ben Stein, Economist and Financial Expert, in this ad, the advertisers no doubt hope to bolster their credibility. (There is an irony in there somewhere, given the nature of the product they are selling.)
I’m no professional, but it seems to me that Ben’s inclusion in the ad would be more effective if he weren’t holding up three fingers.
(At least, that was my first thought. After performing the following analysis, however, I’m not sure that leaving out the three-finger gesture would be an improvement.)
“. . . is considered awful.”
Since he doesn’t give an actual opinion or endorsement here, we would be free to assume that Mr. Stein thinks this service is in some way useful. Maybe he runs the service himself. At the very least, we could assume that Ben Stein would (or perhaps already has) visited FreeScore.com to “Find Out INSTANTLY!” that his credit is in the tank.
(After all, 351, 364, and 382 are all pretty lousy scores; as stated plainly in an FTC public forum on consumer and credit scoring, “Anything below about 550 is considered awful.”)
If this were the case, I suppose I would have a few questions for Big Ben:
- “Mr. Stein, given your considerable training and knowledge as an Economist and Financial Expert—not to mention your impressive command of gameshow-fodder minutiae—how on earth did you manage to so completely trash your credit?”
- “Mr. Stein, given your considerable training and knowledge as an Economist and Financial Expert—not to mention your impressive command of gameshow-fodder minutiae—aren’t you aware of the many ways to doctor your credit score?” (Many tactics are even legal, albeit unethical; check out this businessweek.com article for the sordid details.
- “Mr. Stein, given your considerable training and knowledge as an Economist and Financial Expert—not to mention your impressive command of gameshow-fodder minutiae—perhaps you can explain to me how the FreeScore.com graphic scales work? The Experian scale looks pretty straightforward (although, if I’m not mistaken, the Experian scale runs from 330 to 830 . . . meaning the 310 to 840 scale of the FreeScore.com graphic includes several impossible Experian scores). The TransUnion and Equifax scales, however, suggest that 351<340 and 382<340. I was under the impression that the numbers 351 and 382 were both GREATER THAN 340. Furthermore, the Equifax 382 appears to be horizontally aligned with the TransUnion 351. In fact, it might even be a pixel or two further to the left. I was under the impression that 382 was a larger number than 351 (and, for that matter, 364—which appears to the right of the Equifax 382). Perhaps some sort of inverse logarithmic scale is employed here?”
The answers to these questions would be interesting. Perhaps Big Ben would show me up and effortlessly explain them away. Or maybe I’d walk away with a cool $5,000.
ok, maybe just count to 3
After exploring that possibility, I might amend my criticism of the three-finger gesture. By holding up three fingers, Mr. Stein influences our assumptions about his affiliation with the contents of the ad.
Perhaps the advertisers sought out Ben Stein, Economist and Financial Expert, to confirm the number of credit scores returned by the FreeScore.com process. After some careful examination, Mr. Stein proudly affirms, “Yup. There are three scores.”
My final conclusion: Big Ben is damned whether he does or doesn’t. This is a no-win situation. While Captain Kirk would surely protest, Mr. Stein seems to be ok with smiling for the camera and taking his paycheck . . .
. . . and maybe he even gets the last laugh. His hand is turned the wrong way, but maybe Big Ben is simply telling FreeScore.com to “read between the lines.” Food for thought.