Business First | Do only 'Crazy People' advertise honestly?

Do only crazy people advertise honestly?

12 Sep 2016 –– News
Advertising is everywhere, but how honest is it?

In the wake of last year's ‘Refreshing stuff’ (amongst others that are possibly a bit too risque, or just down right rude, to feature here - Paddy Power, I'm looking at you) marketing campaign, courtesy of Coca-Cola owned brand, Oasis, I had to ask myself:

Why isn’t there more honest advertising?

The Oasis campaign with the strapline "It's summer. You're thirsty. We've got sales targets" focused on honesty. Alarming and brutal honesty. The campaign was launched on billboards, video and social media. It’s funny. It’s honest. It has guts.

It follows the time honoured literary technique of the power of three – a technique which suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more effective, more satisfying and thus more memorable than other numbers – and is refreshingly honest to boot. Every aspect of this ad is made to be amusing and memorable. And it works.

Oasis’ senior brand manager, Natalie Whitehead-Farr, said: “The 2015 campaign uses animation to illustrate some of the absurd and funny truths in the everyday life of teens.

“Each piece of content pokes a bit of fun at a modern trend and delivers an Oasis perspective – whether that be on outdoor advertising, gym selfies, reality TV or slow-motion product demos.

“We think this humorous approach will really resonate with Oasis consumers of all ages.”

So, why isn’t the impact of honest advertising more widely recognised and utilised?

We think it’s because honest advertising takes guts!

Guts that not all marketing agencies and brands have.

However, for your delectation, here at Business First, we thought we’d put together some examples of our favourite pieces of honest advertising. For two reasons; to show you how well it works, and to give you a good chuckle along the way.

They’re boxy, but they’re good!

First up, is a Volvo advertising strategy that isn’t even real, but definitely should be, and isn’t too far removed from their actual advertising strategy anyway.

The 1990 film, 'Crazy People', starring Dudley Moore, parodied the advertising industry and used the slogan:

‘Buy Volvos. They’re boxy, but they’re good’.

The funny thing about this parody Volvo advert is twofold; first of all, Volvo themselves loved it, as it played to their own policy of advertising their safety features and performance over their (admittedly not great at the time) looks. And secondly, it was startlingly similar to Volvo’s real advertising strategy.

To this day, Volvo remain at the forefront of the small number of companies with the guts to advertise honestly, letting their products speak for themselves and focusing on their perceived shortcomings, rather than trying to cover them up.

Know your enemy

Pizza-hut used an excellent advert in Australia (Kraft did ask them to take it down, as they reportedly hadn’t received permission to use the Vegemite name) to advertise their Vegemite (Aussie Marmite) stuffed-crust pizza, released especially for Australia Day.

As with Marmite’s ‘love it or hate it’ slogan, Vegemite uses a similar tactic, boasting that it is ‘made in Australia. By Australians. For Australians.’

The Pizza-hut advert played on this by focusing its attention on the adverse reactions of non-Aussies that tried the pizza.

How does transparent banking sound?

Move over, Howard. One can only assume that Halifax are trying to be honest and appealing with their series of adverts that began with Howard. For me, they are just a little irritating.

This bank however, has got guts. I mean: Serious. Guts.

Nordnet of Norway produced this advert which parodies generic banking adverts with a refreshing dose of honesty and not a little irony. Particularly in light of the financial crisis, it’s rather endearing to see a bank mocking its own industry like this, and in doing so, engenders trust in the brand.

What is a list of brutal honesty without a guest appearance from Ricky (the creator of Offal Jim-Jam) Gervais?

Again, an entry from an Aussie company, Optus, asked Ricky Gervais to shoot an ad to help them advertise their deal with Netflix.

He was right. They used it.

Last, but by no means least

Amsterdam based, Hans Brinker Hotel, is – how does one put this politely? – by all accounts, even that of its own advertising strategy, a bit of a dump.

When they added more beds and hiked their prices, they employed the agency Kessels Kramer to help them to market themselves.

The results were astounding.

Even more astounding, was the fact that the campaign worked!

By focusing on their worst points and putting the spotlight on them they achieved two things:

First of all, they instantly scared off potential customers who would be offended by the hostel, and secondly, they managed to attract their ideal target demographic – young potheads who are unlikely to care about their surroundings as long as it’s cheap.

A quick Google of their Trip Advisor ratings shows that they’re doing something right.

So as you’ll see, one of the strange, contradictory rules of the world of marketing is as follows;

Traditionally, marketing focuses on the positives and can have a tendency to try to cover over any negativity or weaknesses. Marketing that is honest about these things shocks and amuses people. And in doing so, can often be better for endearing a brand to its consumers than marketing that tries to focus only on the positives.

By using such brutal honesty in your marketing you signal confidence by highlighting your shortcomings. This builds trust in your brand as well. If you focus on downfalls, when you tell someone that something is good, they’re likely to believe you.

Also, with a strategy like this, you achieve the complete alienation of those prospects who were less likely to buy from you anyway. You know; the ones who even if they did buy, would likely find something wrong with your product or service. The ones you don’t really want.

But in return, you gain a whole load of prospects who already know about your shortfalls, and don’t care about them.

Whatever your advertising strategy, when you sign up to be a tenant at one of our Business First Business Centres, we will help you to advertise your business by providing you with marketing support and access to our tenants' internal networking community. At Business First, we're not perfect, but we will help you to grow.