Monthly Archive: March 2014

The Days of Brands Playing Make-Believe Are Over. Long Live Radical Transparency.

“Being a great company is the new brand, because there’s not going to be anything in between the consumer and the reality of that company.” -Alex Bogusky

The Naked Brand is a documentary about transparency in today’s marketplace and the impact it is having on brands.

There are many great insights offered by the cast, but Alex Bogusky’s words ring the truest for me. At the 14-minute point, Alex Bogusky says, “Brand is hopefully going to change radically from what’s been a fictional story that stood between you and the company, to a real-time, up-to-the-second truth about your company.” Then he asks, “Can you through that, compel me to buy?”

I love the pivot Bogusky describes, from propping up branded fictions to facilitating naked truth. It changes what we do as ad makers. When the consumer knows the score—or can call up the proverbial score in seconds—brand communications is a different ball game altogether. It’s a game of value, and the brand that best provides it, wins.

This is one reason why I am excited about what content marketing can do for companies. While an advertisement is made from storytelling elements, an ad works to feature product attributes and compel purchase intent. Content, on the other hand, is service to the brand’s community in the form of brand-sponsored media. By shifting one’s intention from selling to providing helpful or entertaining information, the space for a genuine relationship between brand and customer opens up.

Of course, Bogusky isn’t saying all marketing is content marketing, as some have done. He’s talking about radical transparency, which plays out in all media channels, as in real life. For instance, Burger King, a former client of Bogusky’s, has a real-time, up-to-the-second brand truth. All brands do!

Can you imagine a Bogusky-made TV spot for BK that dealt honestly with BK’s brand truths? No doubt, it would be hilarious.

BK tastes best after a few beers!

BK flame-broils its burgers so you taste the smoke, not the meat!

While the above scenarios are difficult to imagine, it’s not that hard to imagine a brand like BK owning up to some its more accessible core truths, like the fact that they’re fast and cheap. QSRs are traditionally product-focused advertisers. They like to introduce new products on a promotional basis throughout the year.

That’s the grain. Now, who is ready to go against it?