Friday, October 16, 2009

Trust me, I'm in advertising

I'm in advertising. I'm a Photoshop whiz. I'm a blogger. I email and I share information. I'm good at social networking. How much do you trust me?

Since consumers have a general malaise (if not downright anger) for big corporations and big government lately - and they are fed up with being fed dodgy-at-best information in ads for years, they no longer take traditional advertisements at face value. We are in the midst of a social and technological renaissance which has shifted the balance of power squarely into your hands. Yes yours. You.

There is no one group of people called "consumers" that the rest of the people are trying to market to or get a vote out of. Everyone is a consumer, everyone is a voter and everyone has the power. Everyone is an individual, it's a market of one. There is no other cell phone exactly like yours - the model, the color, the screen, the ringtones, the apps, the music - it's all your own unique recipe for what you think a phone should be. You can't be classified into some group called "consumers," you are a person and people listen to you. So am I (you're reading my blog right now). So are they. Who are they though?

Who are these people that are blogging and tweeting and talking everywhere, and how much can you trust them? The answer is as simple as walking down the street, going into a grocery or a restaurant or any other public place in your town. You know some people, but you don't know the rest so you make judgments based on what they do, what they wear, their smile, what they are buying, what they are driving and so on. You make judgments based on your experience in life. Your own common-sense. All of this word-of-mouth, viral, conversational, social marketing is no different. It's being put out there by the same people, the same communities, it's a mirror, a window to society.

Don't believe everything you read just because it's in writing. Most emails, websites and blogs are not any more official than some guy standing on the corner with a sign announcing end days. Don't believe everything you see just because you see it. The grass is not that green, the sky isn't that blue, his skin isn't that clear and she isn't that thin.

So how do you know what you can trust? We got a little help this month from the Federal Trade Commission, who brought down some new regulations having to do with testimonial ads, blogging and celebrity endorsements. If someone is being paid to blog about something, they've got to disclose that information. Both advertisers and endorsers (celebs, too!) may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims. This should help give you, me and everyone else a little more clarity to help make decisions.

Watch out though, you may or not still be being brainwashed... "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, disregard that last thing you just heard, it might not be true." Too late.

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