Our latest whitepaper, ‘The Appeal of Real’ reveals why traditional advertising hasn’t just stopped working — it’s making your customers distrust you.

The internet has transformed the business-scape with a fishbowl effect. You just can’t bullshit these Gen X and Y’ers. We’re in the age of transparency, whether we like it or not – your business, well most of it, is out there for all to see (warts and all, if anyone feels like digging even slightly). This, in turn, creates new consumer expectations and demands.


It leaves us no choice, really: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Embrace the transparency, and use it to your advantage as a persuasion tool. It’s not enough to just not finangle the truth — take it to the next level and include honesty, integrity and full disclosure in your brand values. Be proactive with them. It’s about communicating who you really are at every point along the way. Forget aspirational imagery, smarmy sales blurbs and too-clever taglines, and focus on providing more, real information for customers that they can relate to. Think customer reviews and feedback that are responded to in real time; being honest and upfront about performance issues and failures, but also practical ways to solve them; and engaging in open platforms and other multi-dimensional virtual tools and environments that create honest conversations around your brand.

Something like this was recently pretty masterfully executed by Dole Organic. Combining eco-consciousness with ethics, consumers can “travel to the origin of each product” by typing a fruit sticker’s three-digit code into Dole Organic’s website. Instantly, customers will discover the story behind their banana and “visit” the farm it came from, complete with background info, pictures of the workers and their crops, extra information on the origins of Dole’s organic products and a carbon compensation chart.

Not only do Dole look like they have nothing to hide, they’re providing an interesting story that’s interactive and individualised, as well as responding to timely issues surrounding the ethics of food production in an engaging, not to mention feel-good, way. Needless to say, this has been a hugely successfulcampaign.

The digital generation will expect even more transparency in the future as they increasingly disclose every aspect of their lives on blogs, forums and social networking sites and, in turn, expect brands to do the same. Thanks to the internet, we’re obliged to keep it real — so take it and run with it!