05 October 2009

The invention of truth

Ricky Gervais just released a new movie, “The Invention of Lying”, based in a society like ours – except that nobody lies. Everyone speaks the truth, no matter how brutal. The New York Times review points out that even the ad slogans are straightforward: Coke is “Very famous” and Pepsi is “When they don’t have Coke”.

Many believe that advertisements lie or at least stretch the truth. Some do. That’s unfortunate because most of us toil away under the supervision of our God-given consciences, our co-workers, or a lawyer from client, agency or media owner who vets our every claim. That’s a pretty good dose of truth serum.

Marketing at its best is “the invention of truth”. That means we learn everything we can about what we are selling and figure out the best way to sell it. Often this means a message about the product that its manufacturer never envisioned. The message should be true and powerful – a combination more effective than any lie could pretend.

Truth sells and lies fade away. Nothing kills a bad product faster than good - or untruthful – advertising.

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