Why Truth in Advertising Is Fanning the Flames of Invention

John Roberts
John Roberts



TRUTHPick pretty much any topic that’s being thought about, talked about or written about in our business today, such as:

1. rise of procurement in setting the agency relationship
2. growth of transparency between brand and consumer
3. explosion of indie shops
4. redefinition of “advertising”
5. client-growing appreciation and fear of social media

No matter what, they’re all bound by a common factor: the rise of truth.

I’m not for a minute claiming that all marketers are liars. But let’s be honest: it’s a sad day when the recent 4A’s study identified that less than one percent of all Americans would trust advertisers with a secret [1].

And 56 percent think people in advertising secretly wish they were doing something “more creative.” More creative than the boundless opportunities we face today? Really? Clients, agencies and consumers: we all deserve better.

When you think about the underlying tension behind these topics and the fractures in the safety and comfort of what we used to call “the advertising business,” there is a need for greater clarity, truth in what we do and how we live professionally.

We believe that there is too much attention on old-fashioned, introspective measures such as size, headcount, footprint and billings. But what the best work needs is clarity of truth behind it and brilliance of execution to make it sing.

My two partners and I put our money where our mouths are and stepped away from the corporate comfort of "agency" to build a new creative company that we feel is better structured and grounded in what it will take to succeed in the future. And the future is now.

We know we’re not alone. We know that finding new ways to get to what really matters is fertile ground right now. Look at what’s been happening in the past couple of months:

  • Campbell’s Soup is the latest mega-corporation to expand its roster of agencies to include inventive (and small) idea agencies such as Taxi because it believes that ideas come from the enthused and not the engorged.
  • Circus Maximus and Work & Company are stretching their wings and helping to change the face of the industry by identifying the change needed in the ad world business model.
  • Victors and Spoils demonstrates that there’s no better proof of the crowd-sourced model being successful than to have its parent company, Havas, create its own version of internal crowdsourcing with Havas Crowd.

Truthfulness in what we do with the ideas we create and in how we do it are all different ways to get to the same thing that matters most for ambitious clients and successful brands.

So for the 56 percent of you who secretly wish to be in a more creative world, strip away all that doesn’t matter. What do we have left? A focus on ideas that can change business and culture.

That’s pretty creative. And that’s the truth.

1. 4A’s and McCann Worldwide Group: Truth about advertising study, March 2013

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