I'm not really a fan of talking about work with people I just met. I feel like it's so contrived. I like to talk about things like why do we need a Full House reunion show, or how bad I want a pet Capybara (if you don't know what that is, google it. I promise you won't be disappointed). But when the job question ultimately comes up, and I tell people that I'm in advertising, their first reaction is "Ohhhh". And then "Okay". And then "That's coool."
But not in the "cool" as in impressed, but cool as in, "Oh you're one of those slimy douchebags that convince people to buy shit they don't want or need like cigarettes and high deductible insurance policies."
I think that used to be true about advertising back in the day but I don't believe it's true anymore. Advertising isn't about lying or making false claims about a product. In fact, ever since I've studied advertising, there is one constant theme that I've seen repeated throughout all of my mentors and advisors: Tell the truth.
You see, despite the fact that reality TV and social media have slowly eroded our brain cells, we as a people still have an unbelievably effective bullshit meter. We can spot BS from a mile away. So in reality, the truth is more powerful than any other resource that you have at your disposal as a copywriter/designer. The truth is what sets you apart from your competitors. Perhaps your truth isn't as "sexy" as your competition, and that is where advertising can really make a difference.
Take this classic ad from Avis (which has been seen by every copywriter in the universe):
Ahhhh! We're number 2?! The truth hurts so good. Avis' ad campaign positioned themselves as the number 2 in car rental companies. It doesn't get any "truer" than that. And customers love it. It means that Avis tries harder....a campaign that they still adopt to this day.
I'm a big fan of stand up comedy. Some of my favorites include Louis CK, Dave Chapelle, Hannibal Burress, Demetri Martin, and Larry David. One thing that they all have in common is that they're really good at finding things that are true in life. Social interactions, the state of race in America, dating. Just as in advertising, comedy is based on quintessential truths that we can all identify with as a person living within this society.
So if there's one thing to take away from this blog post it's this: You should look into owning a capybara. If there's a second thing though, it's that if you can find the truth about your business, you've found your best advertising strategy.