It’s Time to Start Acknowledging Honest Branding
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new mother, in possession of a tiny screaming babe, must be in want of answers. Why is it crying? What am I doing wrong? How can I make it stop?
There is no time for pussyfooting around. You learn very quickly to cut out everything nonessential, roll up your sleeves, and get very real. It’s the oldest experience in the world but an entirely new semantic field. From the off, you must say what you really think. Your body and your baby depend on it.
Honest brand transparency is becoming the norm
In the last few years, there has been a brilliant run of advertising that reflects this searing honest branding, indicating a shift in the industry. This is seen largely in the female care category. Bodyform’s Womb Stories, Tommee Tippee’s The Boob Life and Frida Mom’s Fourth Trimester are great pieces of work because they are profoundly truthful. They have thrown a grenade at the conventions and tropes of their category and made us ask in disbelief – why has this gone so long unsaid?
This radical honest branding has been breaking through in other places, too, especially in beauty, (think Beauty Mark from CVS), and in retail (think Carrefour’s Black Supermarket and Ikea’s Trash Collection). All good examples of a brand calling a spade a spade to force radical change and reappraisal.
Why is time we all need honest advertising
Having recently returned from maternity leave with fresh perspective, I see an urgent need for more cut-the-shit honest advertising. This doesn’t mean unvarnished work, but it does mean unvarnished truth. This takes skill, because it is often hidden, mixed up between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It sits squashed between things. It requires patience and empathy, and diligent sifting through the quotidian with a repetitive question – why? Why? Why? Like submarine sonarmen, we must practice active listening until we get to the innermost beep of an answer – a motivation. Desire, fear, reward, threat. “Why” is the most important question we can ask. It gets us to the truth of the matter.
Now, if we zoom out and reflect on the scale of technological acceleration, climate change, geopolitical frictions, labour market convulsions and throw in a global pandemic, bilious State hypocrisy, and more fake news than we ever could have imagined, it would be reasonable to say that the world is akin to a screaming babe.
And we’re all tired and not enough people are telling the truth.
So, if you do one thing with your clients this year, say what you really think, because at the bottom of the truth lies magnificent work.
In other words, pick up the baby. She is yours.
Download our report ahead 2022: The Return to Why and read more.
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