The Whole Truth and Nothing But……Or Not?

On: September 9, 2010
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About Mares Kahrel
Hi I'm Mares! I just finished my study Media & Culture and started my New Media Master. I've always worked in bars, but I decided to do something else and started an internship at an advertising company called QI. I work there as a content manager. I thought it would be good get some relevant work experience, before I get my degree and have to find a job in 'The Digital Media World'. Besides working and studying I spend as much time as possible with my friends. I'm trying to find the right balance between work, study, friends, travels, dancing, sports and going out, which sometimes makes me want to have 40 hour days so I wouldn't have to deal with the shortage of time ;). But I guess we all do sometimes.....


I keep hearing that consumers demand transparency in advertising campaigns. We don’t want advertising companies to promise us one thing, and end up doing another. What else is new?

Especially with the rise of online advertising and the popularity of using social media to get to the right target group, honesty and transparency become important. Not only consumers want transparency, it’s also what advertisements claim to be nowadays. I’m just wondering how transparent the advertisements really are, and are the consumers as critical as they claim to be?

It crossed my mind when I started the first week of my internship at Qi. This is an online interactive advertising company. For some projects they use Social Media to reach the right target groups.
Advertisements placed on Social Media sites often show up as pop-ups, virtual games, banners etc. We get invited to join a ‘community’ of clients by registering ourselves at the official website. In return you’ll receive for example the weekly newsletter. So we fill in our names, addresses, nationality etc. for their database. This gives them some inside information about their target groups. But before you get some more information about the products they try to sell, you have to get registered so they can stalk you with more information about their products. Personally, I skip that part. Why can’t I just enter the site without doing al that? This way of advertising is even less transparent then traditional marketing like tv/radio/newspaper ads, although they’re striving for more transparency.

Another example is an ad made into a game, like  . Qi launched it just a week ago. It’s all about soccer, because that’s what men might be able to identify themselves with and therefore the website might appeal to them. They lead you to the product through a game, with which you can win tickets for the next soccer game. Also is it possible to show your friends at Facebook you’ve visited the website in the hope your friend would take a look too. This way they try to hide the fact that it’s an ad and make the illusion that they’re doing what’s best for the customers instead of their own.

I personally believe the transparency consumers and agencies are striving for, is a long way off. Ads still try to deceive us through games and pop-ups that for example promise us prices, and obviously a lot of people are still being deceived. I’m just wondering….should ad agencies strive for more genuine methods of bringing a message to customers (like traditional marketing), or should they strive to keep up with the ever-changing advertising and marketing options to reach their goals?

3 Responses to “The Whole Truth and Nothing But……Or Not?”
  • September 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Luckily nowadays you see brands and companies getting a lawsuit over their misleading products or ads.

    For example the Vitaminwater from Coca Cola. “.. Vitaminwater is hardly a health drink with 33 grams of sugar in each 20-ounce bottle.”

    Or the Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn who got sued over the brand name of their milk “Weidemelk”, which suggests that the cows they use for producing the milk are grazing around freely all day. When the truth is that some of the cows have never even been outside.'van_Hollandse_weide'/

    So it looks like even though companies and ad agencies try to deceive us with their campaigns, consumers are getting more aware and check different sources before taking anything as the truth.

  • September 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Interesting post. I agree to a certain extent with Jidi, and like to add that the collective of internet users enables this empowerment. More eyes easily spot inconsistencies in advertisement, and there’s actually dialogue involved in many cases (for example, Nestlé’s Facebook-page was completely ruined by its users by exposing the company’s environment policy).

    Also, in the end, mass aversion towards the nature of advertisement does not in any way mean the end of corporate slogans, since promotion online also becomes distributed and exercised by the users themselves. In that case, I agree with what Florian Cramer mentioned during the Viral Communications conference, that we increasingly move towards the scenario of (the film) The Jeffersons, wherein advertising is fully embedded in social life.

    Or as Geert Lovink explains: “We have all understood the Laws of Cool so how can we get rid of this logic altogether? It is not enough to ‘uncool’ society. Can you ignore the iProducts?” (

  • September 12, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I think the fashion of being transparant (or claiming to be) to consumers/clients can work really well, that is, if you’re prepared to truly be transparant and go into dialogue with consumers/clients. Not if you think ‘transparancy’ looks good on you. A funny example: Starbucks launched a special kind of community: My Starbucks Idea in which consumers could suggest ideas to Starbucks. The most voted ideas would be produced by Starbucks…Instead people started complaining on the website and vote for the complaint that needed to be fixed by Starbucks haha on top of that Starbucks didn’t react (or hardly gave satisfactory reactions) which infuriated consumers even more. Looking back, Starbucks never shouldn’t have been so open for ideas.

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