Branding: Honesty is Truly the Best Policy

The lesson: Brands that engage in honest dialogue and respond to complaints will win kudos from social savvy consumers. In contrast, those that don’t come completely clean will lose brand equity.

The Super Bowl was a big disappointment all around this year. The game itself was uneventful and there were no ads that are likely to be remembered. None that we saw on the TV screen, anyways.

Newcastle Brown Ale didn’t put any money into Super Bowl sponsorship, but they did put money into some cheeky storyboards that portray what their Super Bowl ad would’ve been like. According to Newcastle, those ads have garnered a combined  9 million views, more than even some Super Bowl ads posted online. And they did so under the lauded “No Bollocks” moniker.

Newcastle is just one among several brands that have woken up to the value of being earnest. With the widespread advent of social media, people know right away when a brand is lying or full of it. So if you’re beating a family of seals or putting makeup on kittens, the Internet will know. The good news is that brands can get brownie points for coming out and telling the truth.

The most recent example of a company successfully using honesty in their branding comes from McDonald’s Canada. A widely circulated picture on the Internet made it appear that disgusting pink goop, which the industry calls mechanically separated chicken, was in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. McDonald’s responded by literally bringing us inside a plant where chicken was processed and explaining the process.

It’s not the most appetizing process, but it’s not as bad as the pink goop myth either.

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