Our recent guest speaker from the VCU Brand Center, Kelly O’Keefe, recently said some words that really hit home with me. As he lectured us on TRUTH, I feel as if I was blindsided about “the truth about truth” as it relates to marketing. Here are a few of Professor O’Keefe’s quotes from the lecture:
“6% of consumers agree: companies generally tell the truth in advertising."
“We’re in the business, and we’re trying to avoid the product we make.” [On a poll of our class stating they try to skip advertisements when possible]
“Instead of marketing what makes us unique, we market the same, boring things.”
“If you get it wrong, you make someone else’s life a little bit worse. If you get it right, you make someone else’s life a little bit better.”
Exploring Truth In Advertising
What do all of these quotes have in common? They link truth to what we see marketed every day. Only 6% of consumers agree that companies generally tell the truth in advertising. As O’Keefe took a poll of our marketing class (with marketing major seniors), we all admitted to trying to skip advertisements while on the Internet, TiVoing, etc. He also discussed the fact that companies tend to market the things that make them synonymous with other brands (free checking at the bank you sign up with, anyone?)
Last but certainly not least, O’Keefe discussed getting it right in advertising and marketing. With the right advertisement and product, a brand can generate an easier life for some people. However, a brand pretending “to be something it’s not” will not benefit the consumer or help make their lives easier. O’Keefe emphasized the importance of being true to a brand and exposing the truthful material of what makes the brand.
As he showed us the Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl commercial, I understand why consumers would be choked up at the advertisement: it depicted realness and truthfulness. There were no magical charades, only raw depictions of Detroit. Chrysler took what made it unique, scars and all, and showed consumers that they were proud of Detroit. In this commercial, Chrysler owned what made them unique and emotionally reached its consumers by doing so. Therefore, I decided to research other brands that have done the same in the past.
Consumers Parody Untruthful Brands
“That’s what we are. That’s our story.” –Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial
Expressing a genuine story to the consumer makes all the difference. It allows them to connect with the product and feel emotion for something possibly intangible. This is exactly what Chrysler did.
As I attempted to look up marketing strategies that show some truth to their consumers, I had a more difficult time than expected. Most of the articles were sarcastic about how untruthful marketing is in general.
Interestingly enough, I found some customers have recreated ads so that they tell the truth. Here are a few examples (and a few of my favorites!):
|Microsoft Vs. Apple: Where would you rather go?|
|Mars bars... The old "Snickers"|
Microsoft's parody ad centers around the fact that they do not differentiate their product enough to draw people in who may not like Apple. In the past few years, I have not seen any Microsoft ads that I remember. This ad makes fun of the fact that Apple markets to the "clever and creative," which are traits that most people like to think they possess. The rest of you, though, you can go to Microsoft.
The Mars bar ad just targets the issue that all candy has: avoiding the fact that indulging in the product will leave you "morphing into a disgusting blob of flab." This "untruth" is just plain leaving out the facts of how bad candy is for you.
There are other examples (like these) that you can look up at http://www.mrjam.org/2010/10/10-truthful-ads-youll-never-see.html . Which one of the "10 Truthful Ads You'll Never See" do you think brings the most truth to the surface?