By Sam Beaumont
Good Honest Advertising
When you think of the advertising of yesteryear – with its catchy jingles and white-toothed housewives grinning from ear to ear about washing powder – I’d hazard a guess that good and honest aren’t the first words that come to mind.
But times have moved on, haven’t they? We’re better than that these days, right?
Well, I’m not so sure.
In fact I think we might be worse… You could argue that there’s a dishonesty in all the ‘engaging content’ that skulks around the internet with its ulterior motives. There’s deception in the army of twitter accounts and chatbots that are leading an assault on our online social lives, pretending that they’re our friends. And now there’s even the falseness of ‘socially-aware’ brands that have wormed their way in to the issues we care about most to try and convince us that they’re not just in it for the money (all to get us to give them more of it, of course). It’s not difficult to dislike the way modern advertising is sneaking into our lives.
And it’s not even just the honesty angle that’s troubling. Given how little attention the general public continues to pay to this current style of advertising, it doesn’t even seem to be that good at selling things. You might argue that by trying to compete with what people actually want to read it might have backfired on brands. Because the harder it becomes to tell what’s advertising and what isn’t, the easier it becomes to just switch off to everything.
Back in the day it wasn’t like that. It was a time when ads were ads and they didn’t pretend to be anything else. Take some of these classics as examples: ‘Ariston and on and on’. ‘You don’t get quicker than a KwikFit fitter’. ‘We all adore a Kia Ora’. Though they might seem dated, these ads are funny and clever, and they put brand front and centre. They say, ‘This is an ad. Be entertained. Remember us. Buy our stuff!’.
What I’m suggesting is that maybe this more straightforward approach could be the perfect response to the current style of advertising. And given the cyclical nature of advertising, who’s to say it won’t make a return.
Obviously, there are a lot of arguments against what I’ve written here. I’m not even sure I wholly agree with some of it! But I do think that taking more inspiration from this classic style of advertising might be worth thinking about… If our first loyalty is to our audience, maybe we should make them ads that don’t pretend to be anything else? Maybe a bit of good honest advertising is just what the world needs?