Everything I needed to know about honesty in advertising I learned from Jerry Seinfeld
If you like advertising and/or ‘90s sitcoms, you may have seen Jerry Seinfeld’s recent industry roast acceptance speech at the Clio Awards, the ad industry’s annual awards shindig. For those that haven’t, it’s worth your time to see a comedian at his scathing best (and an audience trying a bit too hard to appear in on the joke).
Now, you may have come here for marketing advice, and to see us sharing this video of an award-winning advertiser ripping the business a new one might seem odd.
The problem is, Jerry has a point. And it’s a big problem.
You see, advertisements and brands lie way too much. They may be bold lies (looking at you, cosmetics brands and late-night infomercials), but more often they are small lies.
- When Anheuser-Busch sells you on a lifestyle, it’s a small lie; they don’t say that buying a case of Budweiser surrounds you with laughing friends at a campfire or helps your team win the championship, but they show you those pictures over and over.
- When Nike puts LeBron James’ name on a pair of sneakers, it’s a small lie. We all know we won’t be able to walk onto the court and leap over people just because of the shoes; after all, if Nike shoes really made you play better than another brand’s, hyper-competitive athletes would be paying Nike to wear their shoes (or at least, Nike would get their endorsements at a steep discount). But still… wearing his shoes couldn’t hurt my game, right?
So you’re right, Jerry. Advertising does enable people to sell beer, shoes, and trillions of dollars of stuff (including badly-made stuff) by convincing the masses that this next thing will make them happy.
But that’s the worst part of advertising. That’s the dark side of the force. Advertising, marketing, these are amoral tools—albeit dangerous tools—in the hands of people.
There are great advertisers out there who are doing it right. They are making entertaining, informative ads targeting people who want or need to know so that they can make better decisions about how to spend their limited resources to make their families’ lives healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.
And that is the kind of marketing we strive to do here at Rocketworks: Marketing that uses creativity not to obscure or change the truth, but to make the truth more easy and fun to understand and remember.
By the way, the ads Jerry won the Clio Awards for? They’re pretty good, and do a pretty decent job of putting his ideas into practice and subverting automotive advertising in the process.
"You want a family? Get a family." So good. More of this campaign (and Seinfeld's interview) at Adweek.