Lying is ok…but not for you.

Marketers have to be honest, but country-shapers and public servants, apparently, do not. This isn’t just limited to the US, look at the “Leave” stumpers in the Brexit episode. They told all kinds of stories to get the referendum passed, but the voters haven’t seen much actually happening (like the promise that Brexit would free up about 350 million Pounds per week for the National Health Service, a claim that was quickly taken back after the vote). In the USA, we’re still waiting to see which of Trump’s campaign promises will be fulfilled, and which will turn out to be lies.

Both the Trump victory and the successful Vote Leave referendum in Britain demonstrate that emotion-based communication is more effective than trying to convince voters with rational ideas and proof. As Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi (global communications and advertising agency network) says, “Lying is telling people what they want to hear and that’s why it’s so successful. People don’t mind being lied to if they don’t understand it is a lie. I’m not even sure that when they find out it’s a lie it is a big problem because the lie proves the alignment of your values.” Scary.

The problem (other than the very obvious other ones) with this type of “advertising” is that it doesn’t transfer to products or services. Wouldn’t it be great to just say anything we wanted so that potential customers would buy our products? “This cell phone is 100% biodegradable, guaranteed to last for ten years, made by fairies earning $20 an hour in a zero-waste plant, right here in the U.S. of A.” Too bad there are laws that prohibit it…

Here in the real world, we have to try to maintain ethics and standards of business and honesty. Even while some brands have gone the Trump-like route and aren’t afraid to offend potential customers, not for a brand strategy, but sometimes just because they have mouth diarrhea (think Lululemon CEO’s body shaming) or maybe they don’t care. Calling people fat, being racist or sexist or very risqué is what they think works. The important thing is that, in advertising, it usually doesn’t. The divisive, lying politics we’ve been seeing in the world as of late do not translate to successful sales campaigns. Customers want quality and professionalism from the brands they buy, not political incorrectness and discrimination.