Honesty is the future of advertising
“Good Products can be sold by honest advertising;
if you don’t think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it”
– David Ogilvy
You may have come across millions of advertisements, yet hardly a few would have struck you as honest. In an effort to be more persuasive than competition, companies tend to exaggerate or even lie outright. They leave it to their legal team to later wrangle it out with competition who sue them over false advertising. However, consumers are smart these days. They can easily distinguish between Honest and False Advertising.
For starters, honest advertising does not make ambiguous promises or superlative statements. They also don’t parody their rivals. Here are a few worthy examples:
Mc Donald’s Questions Campaign: McDonald’s Canada came up with a Questions Campaign where it invited its customers to submit questions they had about their favorite restaurants. Some of these posers were later turned into eye-popping ads.
Swedish Military’s ‘Welcome to our Reality’ This refers to a campaign series that shot with US army recruitment officials. While US army tends to sensationalize its military life, the Swedes used a realistic approach that helped break down established stereotypes.
Domino’s “Pizza Turnaround” Campaign: This was probably the most honest campaign in the history of the advertising world. Domino’s publicly aired the opinions of a group of customers in which they gave comments like “the pizza crust of Domino’s seems like a cardboard,” or “the Domino’s sauce tastes like ketchup.” This campaign went on to show how the team took the negatives in their stride and worked on them to fix the issues. It was later hailed as a case study in marketing transparency and business transformation.
A Hostel in Amsterdam: There is this hostel somewhere in Amsterdam that has been using a very clutter-breaking marketing strategy for years now. While the visuals are entertaining, it is the tagline that piques your interest:
“It can’t get any worse. But we’ll try our best.”
Their story is about how their budget hotel once intrigued a typical backpacking customer enough to make him want to book his stay there. The moral of the story? Negative publicity is better than no publicity.
A small restaurant at Fuzhou, China: In their effort to encourage honesty in people, they don’t publish any menus. Their patrons have no choice but to opt for the buffet system, where they serve themselves their favorite food from the wide array on display at the counter. Best of all, the restaurant doesn’t bill their patrons. The patrons decide on the value of the meal on its taste, nutrition value etc., and drop an equivalent amount into a lockbox.
Corona Beer 2011 Campaign: You might have seen the picture of diseased lungs on cigarette boxes. A similar approach was taken by Corona Beer in its 2011 campaign where in it took an emotional route through its slogan, ‘Drink responsibly. Or you’ll regret what you said last night.’
Brands need to put their customers before their Profit Margins
Try to create meaningful content using storytelling opportunities. Reveal your true voice, make your principles known and do not shy away from apologizing or starting afresh.
There is a unique series called Honest Logos created by Viktor Hertz, a Swedish graphic designer. In this series, Hertz worked on a few iconic corporate logos to make them look more truthful.
– YouTube was shown as CatVideos
– Absolut Vodka as Absolut Vomit
– Nintendo as ‘Nothing to do’
– Camel Cigarettes as Cancer
As a Brand, you must have the courage to reveal your vulnerable side. With this approach, you will stand apart from the crowd, and share something unique about yourself with the world!