This year the advertising site Marketing Mreža has published yet another interesting issue of Adbooka containing the best regional campaigns of the year and articles written by communication experts. Our very creative Vanja Blumenšajn wrote an article about honesty in advertising, and is it more fortunate to fulfill or to enhance, whose pants are on fire and who has the last laugh, find out by clicking here.

A brand’s reputation is built through several methods. The most common one is to make the product in question more attractive to potential customers by using ads or commercials. That’s usually the first thought that comes to people’s mind when we mention advertising, and the thing that people we’re addressing would mostly roll their eyes at. But, let’s consider the following: what if, bear with me here, you take your brand’s vision and mission seriously, instead of just leaving them as empty words that look nice on your about us page or promotional materials?

In that initial scenario, we rely more on communication (form) than we do on the real thing (content), or even worse, we use it as a patch to mend all the shortcomings for what we’re selling. I’m a firm believer that you can (must?) build a brand exactly through the product it’s presenting. In that case, the agency and the creatives become collaborators in creating, shaping, and improving the product, recognizing the needs of the target audience, and only then, communicating the select benefits. If a brand promises to connect people, improve their nutrition or bring more fun into their every day, why don’t we try our hardest to actually ensure those promises are met? Instead of, for example, a heart-breaking video where a grandma (also seen in the crowd at Wheel of Fortune and that one sausage commercial), is waving at her grandson through a tablet screen, melancholy piano notes softly playing in the background… let’s reconnect an actual grandma with her grandson? Videos with perfect art direction and soothing, velvet offs are quickly forgotten if they’re only used as an emo facade to achieve sales goals. Another benefit of having a genuine connection in your video, is that you’d be recognized as a meaningful part of their life by that grandma and grandson - or the holy grail as books on brand image and loyalty would say.

That’s considered sustainable communication and creating a long, mutually satisfying relationship with the community. And I’m intentionally using this term here, instead of the twisted term consumers which, even in semantics, has a very narrowed, one-way connotation.

Sincerity isn’t something only practiced on the outside; it’s important to internalize it as well. Señor sincerely wants to help solve problems and improve their client’s business, along with being a firm believer that by using their skills, they can make a real difference. Receiving awards, such as Agency of the Year, are a bonus for that approach. Not putting all your cards on the table could give you a starting advantage, but soon you’ll find your table filled only with your weakest links. Maybe that’s why it’s called beginner’s luck - because the novelty quickly fades.

I’m not dreaming of complete corporate altruism, nor do I have a solution that would make capitalism more humane, but I do believe that the financial motivation for one side can coincide with the needs of the other. So it stands to reason then, that you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Let’s circle back to the start, with an apology for the insincere click-bait title, you don’t need advertising if you redirect all of your efforts into fulfilling the promise you’ve made as a brand, but, of course, it does always help if you share the good things you’re doing with the people you’re doing them for. And make some money. The author of this text, though often referred to as a dreamer, strongly believes that a win-win scenario is possible - with just a little honesty.

The text was originally published in Adbook 2021.