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2019 prediction: Creatives will panic about honesty

Posted by: Thomas Harrison-Lord on 4 February 2019

Think of some of the world’s best slogans. “Every little helps”, “Just do it”, “Because you’re worth it” or “Vorsprung Durch Technik”. I’m willing to bet that you know which companies created each of those four messages, so much have they been ingrained into your subconscious over the years.

A great slogan simply needs to say what a company represents. Snappy, concise and considered – values distilled.

At the same time, no one likes to be swindled. You can hype up a business and what it represents all you want, but eventually, consumers and regulators will see through white lies. Which is why in April 2019, a new EU legislation will come into force to help tighten up what can and cannot be said.

The theory goes that brands will be required to adopt slogans that are factually accurate, and the legislation will apply to both new and existing businesses. This potentially throws a spanner on the works for marketing creatives, as it arguably provides less creative freedom.

My knee-jerk reaction is that it could be a litigation nightmare. We live in a world when a mere 12 complaints force the ASA to ban advertisements for Nissan cars. Now imagine if an unhappy customer decides to complain about a slogan that promised them more than their individual interpretation of it being factually accurate?

Honest Slogan Truth

Aspiration is being replaced by facts.

Except, it doesn’t really. Going back to “Vorsprung Durch Technik”, the official Audi USA translation is “Truth in Engineering”. That to me could easily be argued as a fact, and certainly not misleading. Essentially, I believe there will be one or two high-level test cases in the initial phases of implementation before the ruling is cleared up and refined. I really don’t think Nike will switch to “Just do it in your own time and at a pace that suits your personal exercise routine, as set out by your physician” any time soon…

Nebraska, on the other hand, already invoke the legislation, even if it doesn’t apply to the state. Their new slogan is “Honestly, it’s not for everyone”.

However, for us marketers, the extension of the ‘misleading and comparative advertising directive’ provides an opportunity, as you could argue the greater challenge will bring out the best of marketing teams as they try to inspire and stay true. Additionally, businesses may want to go through a rebrand just to be sure they are compliant, a situation I’m sure every marketing agency in the land will welcome with open arms.

Being honest has always been part of the core ethoses of the plenty of businesses and marketing teams, but soon it might also pay to be truthful.

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