Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.
Since 1912, the credo of McCann Erickson has been, ‘Truth Well Told.’ I believed in it when I started there as a young art director working on the Coca-Cola account, and I still believe in it today, years after leaving the company. As far as I’m concerned, it’s what every advertising writer, art director and creative director should strive for: Tell the story of a brand in an intelligent, engaging, emotionally bonding and, yes, truthful way.
Modern history can be told in a series of impactful, truthful tag lines, alongside the advertising that goes with them. The most perceptive lines are a reflection of their time, mirroring the societal comportment of the moment in a way no one had heard before, yet everyone can instantly relate to. Some speak directly to the zeitgeist, emphatically echoing the defining social spirit of the time, and some go so far as to change it and the collective dialogue for generations to come.
The feminist movement of the ‘70s was given a calling card with L’Oreal’s ‘Because I’m Worth It.’ To this day it instills self-confidence, pride and moxie in women around the globe.
Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ splashed every shoe box they sold with inspiration and, along the way, brought out that little bit of big-time-athlete in us all.
In 1984, Apple computer was launched by the most famous Super Bowl spot in history with the claim: ‘On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”’ That seminal spot ran just once, and the brand that ‘Thinks Different’ went on to change the world.
For nearly 20 years, who hasn’t reacted to MasterCard’s ‘Priceless’ campaign, with its narratives centered around one of our universal truths: meaningful experiences with family and friends trump money.
Of course, nothing ruins great creative more quickly and thoroughly than a bad product. There are those times when, after creative is developed and executed, quality control drops the ball or service just generally declines. Unfortunately, “truth well told” can quickly become “lies well sold,” and those once lauded products just as quickly become part of a standup bit in the blink and twinkle of an ad agency’s eye. The solution? Come up with a solution. The offending agency should have been the first to honestly admit the problem, then go about fixing it.
And, needless to say, public relations campaigns aren’t immune to this phenomenon. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dishonest. That’s just too simple. When good advertising goes bad, you can’t always blame the creative. That’s just too simple.
Now, that’s truth in advertising.