Honesty is the new cool: A marketers lesson in surviving the economic shift
It’s nearly the end of 2020 (f**king finally!). We’re mid-pandemic and…hold up, let’s rewind…
[insert rewind sound here]
Products and the way they’ve been marketed over the past 100 years has changed dramatically; going through some crazy cycles. There was the ‘importance-of-cool’ branding in the 60’s; I’m thinking ‘Mad Men’. There was TV advertising; reaching millions of people in one go. And who could forget the social media boom; finally two-way marketing landed. Even today things are evolving; from the most experiential apps, VR and events, to influence-based marketing using ambassador programmes and peer-to-peer networks.
But of course, over-paid marketing agencies are still tussling over brand-styles and tones of voice. One incredibly bright and serious innovator at nondescript branding agency might say, “Ahem, if your product was an animal, what would it be?”
And I just might retort, “Ermmm… Probably a cuttlefish. Lacking acoustic receptors, cuttlefish wouldn’t have to listen to this entitled BS”.
So after thousands of iterative cycles on how to promote your products in the best way; it finally feels like we’ve stumbled across something that just might be a new constant.
I recently read Oatly’s annual sustainability report. It was titled, “Slightly worse than last year”. As I ingested the unusually candid title, a grin leapt across my face, spanning from one ear to the other. I felt simultaneously respected and intrigued. There was something quite alluring about it’s sincerity. Of course, because brands are usually lying little arsewipes, it also happened to be playfully amusing.
In the age of information, where scrutiny is not just commonplace but a core marker in quality assurance; people are less easily fooled. They’re less easily fooled by the media. Less easily fooled by politicians. And less easily fooled by companies.
… It’s nearly the end of 2020 (f**king finally!). We’re mid-pandemic and it feels like there is an opportunity for us to make some big scale, positive changes going into the New Year.
Apparently there is now a clear free-market incentive to be open and honest in the way you communicate; people and more accurately consumers want it. They don’t want to be talked down to, lied to or fall-foul of some attempted greenwashing BS. Just an open, maybe even vulnerable critique of your shortcomings to let them know you’re at least on their team in combating some of the greatest issues of our time.
It’s time to move beyond frills-and-spills marketing and into the era of honesty marketing. Open yourself up to criticism, highlight your bad bits as well as your good, show some progress and be part of a sustainability-driven paradigm shift.
In 10 years 75% of the companies on the planet that currently exist, won't. How to ensure your company will be in the 25%? Don’t fight the shift, embrace it.