The awful truth

persp-oscar-aaaaa01a-2013I’ve written many blogs about corporations that say one thing in their messaging, but deliver a very different experience with their product or service. McDonald’s is one of the best (or most egregious) examples. Their tagline is: ‘I’m loving it!’ And, while that may be true about the profits they’re raking in from serving fatty, artery-clogging foods, the average Mickey D’s diner can’t be loving her expanding waistline and Type II Diabetes.

Likewise, United Airlines has just resurrected their old tagline, “Fly the friendly skies.” As a frequent flyer on United, I can tell you those flies are ugly. They’re mean. They’re anything but friendly. United’s tagline should be, ‘Fly the lying skies.’

But, what to make of a company that tells the truth about a terrible product? The Heart Attack Grill in Arizona knowingly promotes its deadly menu. And, now, Oscar Mayer is actually bragging about its Butcher Thick Cut Bacon! They’re running an advertisement entitled, ‘It scares other bacon to bits.’ Ouch. To make matters even worse (but, being fully transparent), the Oscar Mayer photograph of hickory smoked bacon shows all sorts of fat and gristle up close and personal.

It’s yucky, but it’s authentic. Does that make it right? I think so. I think that’s all we can expect of marketers. Tell me the truth, and let me make the decision to sacrifice my future health and well-being.

Having said that, I must take this opportunity to ask my fellow public relations firm owners to think before they run another print ad entitled, ‘We prefer to be judged by the company we keep.’ The headline is followed by a series of client logos in the body of the ad.

In addition to being a hackneyed, worn-out approach used by countless firms, the company we keep strategy is a badly flawed one. It leaves the advertiser wide open to being judged by the conduct of its clients. Imagine if your PR firm represented the likes of JP Morgan Chase, the NSA and BP. If your print ad asked readers to judge you by the company you kept, I’d think you embezzled, snooped and ripped up the environment. And, I’m guessing that’s not the image any PR firm would want.

So, what do you think about truth in advertising? Should we applaud the likes of Oscar Mayer for being fully transparent, or continue to look the other way when McDonald’s and United do their double-talking?”


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2 thoughts on “The awful truth

  1. While Bacon may never equate with granola and yogurt in our minds as a health-conscious food, it actually contains some healthy things your body needs.

    Bacon actually has less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than many popular cuts of beef and chicken.

    Bacon also contains a very important nutrient called “choline,” which helps increase our intelligence and memory and has been shown in University studies to help with fetal brain development and fight off the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and other chronic mental impairments.

    For Oscar Meyer, the move to thicker cut bacon is a great move. They actually changed the packaging to make it more transparent and reveal more of the fat in the cut. (Most bacon uses the paper packaging to cover this). This speaks to a more authentic approach, such as you would get in a butcher shop or ‘artisinal’ heritage producer. This product also costs a premium of 50% more than their regular bacon.

    I agree with you that the issue or “truth” is not really whether their product is healthy or unhealthy, but rather that they are giving the consumer the choice to make that decision. And consumers will speak with their wallets and let us know if they are willing to pay a premium or not.