When one of my managers would hire a new person, I always tried to sit that new person down for a few minutes in the middle of their busy (and probably scary) first day. The purpose was to welcome them aboard and to let them know that there was only one thing they could do (other than to break the law or the HR rules, obviously) that would cost them their job. That one thing was lying. In my mind, lying – to me, to their manager, to their co-workers – causes a lack of trust, and that mutual trust is what sees the team through all the challenges of the workplace.
That sort of thinking is what makes me wonder why marketers seem happy to lie all the time. I’m not talking about violating the law and mislabeling products. I’m talking about something much more common which is branded content. Now you might moot thing of branded content as lying, but your customers do. This from the folks at Citi (via Business Insider):
Looking at branded content — specifically as it relates to Facebook‘s opportunity in the space — Citi found that 48% of US internet users felt deceived upon realizing an article or video was not a piece of news or commentary, but was in fact a commercial.
I’m not talking about something like a review guide that was funded by a brand being reviewed as long as it was truly an independant work and properly identified as having been funded by a brand. That is content that is created for the audience and has value. I mean a glowing review, seemingly from a reputabile source, that is clearly created to promote a single brand. Most of the time there is a little label someplace that mentions it’s an ad, but not always and not always prominent enough for a consumer to notice.
Are you creating content for the consumer or for yourself? Is the content deceptive in any way? Ads disguised as content is lying, and lying will get you fired, even if you’re a brand. You agree?