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Game Theory TV Tobacco


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When I was a kid, there was a famous TV commercial.

It was for an attorney that specialized in personal injury.

Their most famous client won a huge lawsuit.

And the commercial ended with the happy client saying:

"Lawyer X got me 2.2 million dollars!"

(Of course he said the guy's name, not lawyer x...)

But then the laws changed.

"They" made it illegal to say how much you MIGHT get on TV.

So the NEW commercial was the same guy.

Only this time, he said:

"Lawyer X got me, well, you know!"

Since he was already famous, people remembered the old amount.

Most of the time, when this stuff happens, people assume it was because of a government intervention.

That our elected officials are tirelessly working to protect us poor citizens by being taken advantage by those evil corporatists.

The truth is this is rarely true.

In reality, the government is the one being taken advantage of by the corporations.

Because elected officials can ONLY think in short term time frames.

Election cycles.

For example, now it's JUST BARELY 2019, and news about the 2020 election is EVERYWHERE.

Corporations, on the other hand, can play the LONG GAME.

Here is fantastic example that I actually learned from studying game theory.

Back when TV was first invented, there were two main tobacco companies.

And the prospect of TV, or more importantly, TV advertising, posed an interesting problem.

A problem that is IDEAL to study in game theory.

The IDEAL SOLUTION for each company was to NOT advertise.

If one of them advertised, and the other didn't, the one who DIDN'T would lose market share.

But if they BOTH advertised, that would not be optimal.

They would both be spending MORE money, but neither would gain market share.

Since they BOTH had about 50% each.

So the best case was for a LAW to be passed prohibiting TV advertising for tobacco.

That would mean neither of the two companies, NOR could any new companies advertise on TV.

TV advertising represented a near guarantee REVENUE LOSS.

Since either would spending money to NOT lose market share.

But a law prohibiting tobacco ads on TV was the IDEAL solution.

Of course, most people believe that our wonderful government wanted to protect our fragile little minds.

They wanted to protect us from the evil tobacco companies.

When it was likely the lobbyists for the tobacco companies who covertly pushed the governments to outlaw TV tobacco ads.

Of course, when you are playing the LONG GAME, letting government goofs take the credit is OK.

Like any other strategy, LONG GAME is neutral.

You can use it to build your empire, or destroy your enemy's empire.

Up to you.

But if you DON'T play the long game, you can bet plenty of other people are.

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