No one is compelled to tell the truth. Doesn’t matter who you are or what your position is in life, it’s up to you to decide the level of truth you’re prepared to deliver. Some professions seem to attract a certain type of person who just finds it easy to fabricate facts. Lawyers and politicians seem to rank highest on the lie scale. In fact, these two professions are banned from participating in the World’s Biggest Liar competition, an annual get-together of fork-tongued fibbers held in the United Kingdom. Apparently they have an unfair advantage over the rest of the field.
They should add advertisers to that list. And that’s not easy for me to say, considering what I do, and have always done, to make a living. I don’t consider myself a gifted liar, nor am I a saint; but I know that many involved in my profession (especially clients) tend to be somewhat addicted to their own masquerade. Worst of all is that consumers let advertisers get away with it and that’s a big problem because advertisers are consumers too so we fall for the same crap. How many BMWs, Porches and Mercs will you find lurking in the parking lots of Auckland's leading advertising agencies? And why are they there? The folk who bought them bought into the same lies of status and branding that advertising sold to the rest of us. There’s no other reason. Why do these same people wear Gucci, Prada or Chanel? For the same reason as anyone else: because advertising told them to.
I love Apple. Nothing else compares and naysayers should be thrown to the lions. Why am I such a fervent supporter of the brand when I’ve had some terrible experiences with Apple? My iPhone 5 was an out-of-box failure. When I returned it to Vodafone I felt unsettled, like someone came into my house when I was away and had licked all my clean knives and forks and then put them back in the drawer. But I was cool with the failure and as of today I’ve been waiting 28 days for Vodafone to deliver my iPhone 6. Truth be told, I’ll wait as long as it takes because I’m comfortable accepting and forgiving Apple’s lies. They’re such brilliant deceptions that I’m prepared to ignore the videos posted online of the iPhone 6 bending in half and the ugly looking, glitch prone iOS. Why? Because I want to.
I’m not prepared to be forgiving of Tegel and their claim of being “New Zealand’s Favourite Chicken”, nor of Quilton’s claim to be “New Zealand’s Favourite Toilet Paper”. It’s rubbish and we should all see through these weak claims for the drivel they are. Is that any way to build a brand? Apparently so.
If you saw an ad for a restaurant and it said, “We promise not to spit in your food”, would you be relieved or worried? Let’s say for instance that Air New Zealand ran a TV ad and they said “We promise our pilots will not fly drunk and will not to crash into the ocean”, would you choose them over another airline?
As consumers, we are entitled to take a few things for granted. Assurances of saliva free food and crash free journeys shouldn’t have to be made by restaurants and airlines. What the restaurant should be promising is that they make the finest Ossobuco in the world, which is based on a 300-year-old family recipe that is closely guarded by the Mafia. The airline should be promising that they will always be on time, that your luggage wont be lost and that they wont be retrenching thousands of local staff so they can outsource to Mumbai and save a few dollars.
Any fool can make a promise. The good thing is that thanks to the absolute explosion of the Internet and Social Media, consumers are becoming much savvier. We want something remarkable from all the promises that advertisers make, simply because the best ones are the hardest to keep. Keep that in mind in 2015.