Brands can't lie anymore

You may have already read my post on story based innovation, where in a transparent information driven society, the brands that will thrive are those that have deeply authentic stories behind their brand. I gave the story of Jane's Pantry, a struggling chain of ten bakeries in Gloucestershire, England, by the name of Jane’s Pantry. A business that was owned and run by a career baker, but over time the pressures of market changes lured him into uneducated business decisions that were crippling the business and risking over a hundred jobs. The ‘Million Dollar Inter’ AKA, Fraser Doherty was able to help Jane's Pantry out of a Jam (no pun intended) by helping them reconnect to their story of local produce and handmade pastries.

But something has really started to annoy me. Now when I see lavish brand campaigns from companies, I get disappointed when they attempt to tell stories that are clearly lies. I mean seriously, does Singapore Airlines expect us to believe that their famed Singapore Girl goes to extreme lengths to hand pick movies in India or leather for their business class seats? The campaign, shot by John S Park through SixToes TV and Apple Box Asia, comprises three films that feature vision of searching for familiar flavours, selecting the softest leather and finding films you love. Don't get me wrong, I would assume Singapore Airlines does actually put some effort into selecting the fine products. But to promote that as a story showing in-flight staff sourcing raw materials is likely to bite them back.

There is no doubt that Singapore Airlines is not alone in using fiction to promote its brand. It's just the one that's in my face frequently in my world travels.

In November 2012 Nielsen published an article on Reaching Gen X: Authenticity in Advertising. On what makes Gen Xers tick when it comes to TV advertising? Research from Nielsen shows that both men and women in this demo connect with everyday household and family activities. Unlike other demographics, such as Millenials, real-world situations and authenticity appeal most to consumers between 35-54. Authenticity, that's a powerful word. One that creates a foundation for trust, transparency and faith in a brand.


While it comes as no surprise that Gen Xers’ preferences show a stark contrast with Millennial, the nuances between males and females in this age demo are more subtle than males and females ages 13-34. Both Gen X men and women prefer a calm, safe approach in advertising, while Generation Y prefers high-energy, extreme scenarios. But overall they value and desire authenticity. So given, why would a brand like Singapore Airlines clearly lie in their advertisement. We all know the Singapore girl isn't sourcing the materials and entertainment for inflight. In fact their own communications conflicts with the TVC's, as they announced  BMW Group subsidiary DesignworksUSA, and UK and Singapore-based James Park Associates (JPA) – to help develop the next generation of in-flight cabin products.

Its time big brands wake up to reality, or risk the wrath of the informed consumer. There will come a time where the authenticity of advertising will be a key part of how the market receives, believes and trusts a brand.