TV viewers of the 2000 Super Bowl were shocked by a commercial showing former actor Christopher Reeve, of Superman fame, vacillatingly walking toward a stage to pick up a prize given to a research foundation that supposedly had discovered a cure for his incapacitating spinal cord injuries. The scene had been produced by computer animation as part of a fund raising campaign. Arguments developed shortly afterwards. Some people were lead to think that Reeves had been really cured. However, people got informed about these injuries. At the same time, Benetton was launching a campaign showing tranquil-looking faces of people sentenced to death penalty, with a big legend “Sentenced to death”, plus their names and jurisdiction in smaller print[1]. Please, evaluate these campaigns focusing on their effect on the cost of information. 

[1] The information on this case comes from G. González Andrío, “Anuncios–impacto” (Expansión, February 8, 2000, p. 18).


Information is valuable and costly to produce: misleading some people might be a worthy price to pay but there is no way to know. The most intriguing question is that it might even be optimal for the ad to be misleading. A particularly difficult dimension is the completeness of information: for instance, relatives of victims soon complained that the Benetton ads did not tell the crime triggering the sentence.

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