Branding… Lies & Advertising!



If you share with me the idea that advertising is one of the most valuable tactics in brand building, perhaps you would like to provide your input in a discussion that positions advertising as the most superfluous and untruthful of corporate activities.

Some define advertising as pure fabrication, designed to make us need what we do not need; to make us pay more than we have to or to deceive us with appearances.

Although I obviously don’t support this positioning, I must admit it is based on the type of advertising that deviates from the honest practice of brand building.

The principles of good branding lie in the search for the proprietary and authentic values of a company and building on them. It’s the heart and soul of a brand; therefore, it should be truthful.The main function of advertising is to package that truth so as to capture the attention of the audience. A good creative should find the way to effectively transmit this truth.

A successful brand does not need to lie; on the contrary, a successful brand will use all available tools to bring this truth to life. Brands like Nike, Johnson & Johnson or Dove could never be blamed for lying. Their equity is not based on cheating or disguising the truth. Their equity is based on giving life to that truthful DNA through products and services that respond to consumers’ expectations, desires and needs.

In a world where products look alike and where price is king, the only relevant brands are those, which honestly bring to life an original idea. George Eastman created an empire called Kodak, by enabling consumers to capture their moments while he took care of the science required to preserve them. This truth was Kodak’s key to success, and it is proven by hundreds, if not thousands, of patents registered by Kodak and the equity of one of the most beloved brands in the world.

As the trailer of the acclaimed documentary Art & Copy states, it is true that a good portion of the advertising on air today is nothing but trash; it is true that in this industry egos receive more accolades than ethics; it is true that we live in a plastic world; but it is also true that truth prevails, even if only for a bunch of dinosaurs like me, who do believe.


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September 3rd, 2009 18 Comments Advertising / Branding / Branding Blogging / Branding Education / Branding Questions / Branding Strategy / Branding Thesis / Professionalism

  1. Deborah

    I think your point of view is to idealistic to meet reality.

    September 3rd, 2009 //
  2. Mike

    Your blog speaks the truth, but how would you defend the advertising and marketing industry against those who do not understand what you do? I am speaking of lawyers, doctors and others who claim advertisers are a bunch of liars who sell products that people do not need or have to money to purchase.

    September 3rd, 2009 //
  3. ftpmumbojumbo

    Use the Dove Case. Show them how a responsible marketeer can make a soap trendy and appealing by just being relevant to the everyday Jane who just want’s to feel pretty with her natural beauty.

    September 4th, 2009 //
  4. WhoStoleMyStapler

    Good blog this week! I’d like to add a point. I’ve become very attached to the “transparency” trend. A company has a blog or a news feed where consumers can go in and give their feedback and anyone can read it… Like a review blog.

    “Recommendations by personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally. The Nielsen survey shows that 90% of online consumers worldwide trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.”

    There are many more research studies, findings, dissertations, and so on that confirm the same fact: reviewing is the new advertising.


    *So when a company like Nike, Dove and others listed above brand themselves one way, you can usually leave it up to the consumer to agree or disagree and decide if that positioning is true to the company essence.

    September 4th, 2009 //
  5. Sandy

    Also Mike, you may want to tell those lawyers and doctors that just how out of every so many lawyers or doctors you find a crook… well same for advertisers…. so not advertisers are bad!

    September 4th, 2009 //
  6. ftpmumbojumbo

    Rest my case with Sandy’s comment!

    September 4th, 2009 //
  7. ftpmumbojumbo

    My dear reader. I hope you find your stapler.

    Let me start by telling you that I got all excited with your first sentence: A weekly follower!!!!! I read your article in and I found it awesome so I am sharing the link with my very loyal weekly readers:

    Keep on coming you made my afternoon.

    September 4th, 2009 //
  8. RPLarkin

    Uhhhh….running shoes haven’t made any technological advances since they slammed a rubber waffle to the bottom of a mocassin….not sure Nike is the paradigm for ‘truthful DNA’ …wtf is that anyway

    September 4th, 2009 //
  9. ftpmumbojumbo

    Remember Nike promise is one of performance (yours) not of technological advances. The brand invites you to do it.

    It has never stated that the snicker will do it for you!

    September 5th, 2009 //
  10. Jonathan C

    I’m all for T-n-A, Truth in Advertising that is. I’m also all for Ethics in Business as I believe it isn’t possible to have one without the other. Unfortunately this idealistic view is just that, even companies like Nike cant deny how they have exploited underdeveloped nations for the advancement of their business and not always have they managed to keep acceptable standards of working conditions or benefits of those workers. Johnson&Johnson has research that can hinder sales of many of the drugs some of its companies make yet they don’t make that research as publicly accessible as the products benefits, yes they have warning labels but how often have you taken the time to see what those warnings are? So can a brand be 100% honest, not likely, can a brand strive to be as honest as possible, yes. Are advertising professionals to be the stewards of T-n-A? I as someone that works in this industry do believe so and it is what makes it so exciting and sometimes very empowering to be working in this industry. Great post, keep them coming. ~JC

    September 14th, 2009 //
  11. ftpmumbojumbo

    Jonathan, we are confusing two issues here. One is the ethics, values, and truth on how a corporations does its business and at what price is its profitability (More related to reputation than to advertising). The other, which is more what I was referring to, is using advertising to create needs or sell lies. I believe that good brands can and should live and communicate to a standard and therefore they can be honest all the way. But maybe I am just an idealist!

    September 14th, 2009 //
  12. Brian


    The role of the advertiser and the dirty business that a corporation may do to achieve success are separated in my opinion.

    Meanwhile, i do believe that the brand is greatly affected by that dirty business that the corporations do because it represents their values.

    Lying about a product’s benefits, or saying this product has NOT been tested on animals, when really it has – that is False Advertising and dishonest.

    Just my thoughts… who’s right anyways?

    September 18th, 2009 //
  13. ftpmumbojumbo

    In an ideal world the brand and the corporation should share values. This week I will be writing an entire note on the social values of a brand. Good brands do not lie! If I can believe in that I would have to close the doors of my business and just retire a few years earlier! Thanks for keeping the discussion alive Brian!

    September 22nd, 2009 //
  14. Frank Scurley

    I dont know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    …..Frank Scurley

    October 16th, 2009 //
  15. ftpmumbojumbo

    Thanks Frank. Your comment is very encouraging. I believe you will enjoy the post I am publishing today about the social responsibility of brands.

    October 18th, 2009 //
  16. point of purchase advertising

    I foundyour blog utterlyby disaster, and it worked out unlimited! This is very interesting, and I will be back for further.

    April 10th, 2010 //
  17. Glen Cram

    I think advertising has more of a fatal flaw than is mentioned here. I don’t really accept that its goals are valid, to encourage more and more consumption of unnecessary and harmful stuff, at the expense of the environment and humane society. You can see some of my rationale at

    May 23rd, 2010 //
  18. product marketing

    This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions. Thanks :)

    September 1st, 2010 //

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