Tuesday 15 May 2012

Truth, half lies and downright dishonesty

The world is full of liars. Politicians lie. Bankers and businessmen are economical with the truth and most people tell fibs, at least some of the time.

Advertising has a mixed reputation. Post war movies like the Hucksters showed how difficult it was to attain success in advertising whilst retaining integrity. Kirk Douglas in Elia Kazan’s The Arrangement showed the shallow world of advertising agencies, with Douglas selling an advertising pitch for ‘Zephyr’ cigarettes. In Britain though we have the code of advertising practice, which contains the principle that all advertising must be Legal, decent, honest and truthful. This is supported by a raft of legislation and monitoring bodies; so surely all our own advertising must be above criticism.

However advertisements for short term loans, with interest rates in excess of 4000% cannot be decent and some of these commercials appear to have by-passed the need to show the APR details. A cleverly cut commercial showing a vacuum cleaner gliding across the room with no visible electric cord is misleading. Snake oil adverts promising eternally rejuvenating skin, spend millions of pound on advertising that cannot surely be completely honest.

Occasionally you spot an advertisement that you believe. This one is a 60 second commercial for Hiscox insurance.

There is a new light.

VO: Male: Reassuring.

“It’s not hard to view the world as something beautiful. But somehow broken. Institutions have let us down. And today, it seems, a person’s word has lost its worth. Yet if the fading of these values disturbs us, then surely they must still matter. We still admire honesty and fairness. Whatever you choose to call it, honour is still at the heart of how most of us try to live our lives. At Hiscox, we exist to make good in times of loss and give our word that we will be there when you need us. If you believe that business can still be done on the strength of a handshake and that promises are still worth keeping then you are, most definitely, not alone. Hiscox Insurance: as good as our word.”

A confident promise that rings true and wonderful copy too.
Why can’t more advertisements be as good?
And as honest?