The Word is Integrity
Why integrity? Why now? In addition to the obvious need for increased integrity in our modern world, the BBB Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana partners with the Spokane Valley PACE initiative to encourage ethics in schools. (PACE stands for Partners Advancing Character Education.) Among other programs, PACE promotes a character word for each month.
June’s word, which will appear on business, school, and church readerboards, posters, and banners in the Spokane Valley, is Integrity. We encourage you and your family to talk about integrity and what it means to you.
Integrity and the BBB
The Better Business Bureau, a nearly 100-year-old-organization, was founded on the principal of integrity and continues to strive to act ethically and increase trust in the marketplace. BBBs all across the U.S. and Canada ask our Accredited Businesses to promise to “embody integrity.” To tell the truth. To advertise honestly.
Back in 1911, integrity caused Samuel Dobbs, President of Coca-Cola, (and considered the BBB’s founder) to question the accepted standards of advertising. In Mr. Dobbs’s day, opium, alcohol, and cocaine featured heavily as secret ingredients in patent medicines marketed as “Mother’s Little Helpers” or “Pick Me Ups.” It is said that Coca-Cola once contained cocaine!
In 1858, a decade before Mr. Dobbs was born, there was a big scandal involving New York City milk. The product was marketed as pure and wholesome. It looked fine to the naked eye. But when mothers gave it to their children, the kids got sick. Some—as many as 8,000 boys and girls—died.
Some of the bad milk was padded with water, then restored to richness with flour. Some came from cows being fed hot alcoholic mash from whiskey distilleries. Plaster of Paris was added to remove the blue color. Can you imagine drinking that?
Deceptive and misleading advertising continued during Mr. Dobbs’ lifetime. Colonial licensing laws had been repealed by the Jackson administration so that graduates of fly-by-night medical schools and even people with no formal education could advertise as “doctors.”
Mr. Dobbs’s document The Ten Commandments of Advertising, created in 1911, was one of the first marketing codes developed in this country. Remnants of these ethical laws can be seen today in the BBB’s Code of Advertising. Early advertising Vigilance Committees started by Dobbs grew into what we know today as the Better Business Bureau.
In an era which has been described by historians as “every man for himself” in business and advertising, Samuel Dobbs had the moral courage to do what was right. Today, the BBB continues to ask companies to substantiate their advertising through our Ad Review program. If they can’t we ask them to modify their claims or to remove them altogether.
Integrity. It’s important.
For more information, please visit the PACE website at www.pacecommunity.org.