Truth: The Ultimate Marketing Weapon


This ad is the reason I’m in advertising.

As a kid, the Doyle Dane Bernbach Volkswagen campaign was a sensation. People talked about VW ads like they were beloved children. The funny looking German cars began popping up everywhere. Kids played “punch-bug” for kicks. Hey, we were easily amused and video games were a long way off–– thanks technology for failing our generation.

What caused the VW ad sensation?

Honesty, pure and simple.

In an age of overblown bullshit advertising, the Volkswagen campaign was surprisingly different. It had a human voice–– not some bombastic bore spouting superlatives while thumping his chest, like all other car ads.

VW was humble, contrite and told its story about why it did what it did building its funny-looking cars, and why that might possibly be of interest to people in the market for reliable, sensible transportation.

To bastardize a favorite Raymond Chandler line, VW’s ads stood out “like a tarantula on a wedding cake.”

Does truth still work? Yes. Witness Dominos re-launch of its brand a couple years back, the current Arby’s work and Newcastle Brown Ale.

There’s drama in truth. We connect with those who admit flaws. It’s human to like underdogs.

Truth is like listening to vinyl, it has warmth because of its imperfections. Regular ads are like CDs, there is a shrill harshness to their perfection.

The truth may not always set you free, but it usually warrants attention.