Everyone's In Advertising

Jack S

I was looking at a friend’s Instagram feed the other day, thinking to myself ‘that is NOT the person I know…’ 

It made me a little bit annoyed at first.

But then I thought, isn’t that just advertising? Isn’t she just doing for herself what we do for our clients every day?


She’s projecting the aspects that are most interesting/attractive and leaving out the bits that are boring or potentially off-putting.

 Every single day, more people than ever before are doing this, and becoming experts at advertising in the process.

I’ve heard it said that our bullshit filters are more finely tuned than ever before. And that’s because we’ve become the bullshitters. We do it every day. We pump out comms, analyse the results in realtime, hone our message and see what sells. Truth is secondary to results on social media.

So maybe it’s time to stop thinking about our audience in terms of segments. Instead, let’s just think about them as a room full of cynical advertising execs. That’s essentially who we’re speaking to now.

So the question becomes, how would you sell to them?

The truth seems like a good place to start. Not the flashy, non-specific glitzy claims we so often get told to put into our copy. Not a humblebrag. But the honest truth, well told. It’s amazing what stopping power this has in today’s world.


There’s a great book called Scientific Advertising*. Chapter 7 is about the power of being specific.

The gist is that generalities leave no impression whatsoever. People recognise a certain licence in selling talk – and forgive some exaggeration. So we can say “supreme quality”, “unbelievable prices” etc. without being judged as liars. It’s just that no one believes you.

But a brand that makes a specific claim has to be either telling the truth or lying. (And actually, with bodies like the ASA etc, we don’t expect advertisers to get away with lying.)

So a specific, or fact-based claim can hold more power than any slick-sounding sales patter. 

Why not switch off social media and give it a read before your next brief comes in?


*Scientific Advertising was written in 1923 and is still making as much sense today as I’m sure it did then.