The truth about Advertising @PipBaines13

By Philly Baines


‘Honesty works and dishonesty doesn’t work” says Dave Trott on the advertising message.


I’m editing a documentary about Sir John Hegarty, specifically a chapter about truth in communications. Where the industry as a whole may suffer from bad PR – commercials selling a dream based on what salespeople want us to think we’re buying – really great adverts share a truth about a product.


What Dave has to say is heartening; I don’t think any young person gets into this industry aspiring to share lies. At the same time – when you consider the number of adverts throwing ridiculous, out-of-touch dreams at consumers – you don’t half expect you might have to make something that bad at some point as maybe that’s what advertising is?


“In the end, the very reason for a brand to be there is trust,” says Hegarty. His colleague, Nick Kendle, agrees ‘”we’re evangelists for a brand’s truth.” This has been music to my ears.


The Levi’s 501 campaign presented a challenge; sell a pair of jeans to consumers that didn’t think the brand was that relevant to them. Not only this but the flies were button, not zips. Who in their right mind wants to button up their flies when the zip is faster and easier to use? Hegarty picked a moment in time when the jeans were at their height and made popping those jeans cool and sexy. ‘The truth is disarming,” he says and you can see from his incredibly successful career that it sees incredible results for brands.


The recent BBH Audi ‘clowns’ advert is another manifestation of this belief. It sees a bunch of insane clown drivers riding around like madmen whilst an Audi car gracefully dodges them. If this doesn’t catch an average driver’s experience on a car journey, I don’t know what does!


Looking at my own work, I can feel it in my gut when a piece of comms is really speaking the truth or not. With some of my executions I’ve been whacky and entertaining, but the more I look the more I feel like shrugging my shoulders – if it speaks nothing of real life, there’s no point.


So here’s to a big new years resolution, in the words of McCann agency, try even harder to create ‘the truth well told.’

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