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Brands & The Danger Of Flying Pigs

July 23, 2020

pig with wings flying over stopwatch hourglass people less apt to believe fake news when they've had time to think about itblank vertical space, 16 pixels highA headline in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye: Detecting Fake News Takes Time.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Alison Gopnik wrote about a psychology experiment in which participants were asked to decide whether a series of social media headlines were true or false.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They also had to fill out a questionnaire about their political beliefs.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Results: sure enough, people were more apt to believe fake news that fit their political beliefs.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

But regardless of those beliefs, they did better at spotting fake news when they had time to think about it.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Is there a message here for brands?blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Nowadays, everyone talks about “authenticity.” Brands need to be authentic, or customers will desert them.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Here’s the plain English version: you have to do what you say. If you don’t keep your promises, word gets around.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can trick someone into believing a pig can fly, but when he’s had time to think about it, he’ll dismiss the pig as fake news.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Brands launch pigs all the time. Clickbait headlines are a good example.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You click the link and get a sales pitch or rehashed content you’ve read a thousand times before. Nothing fraudulent or perverse, just “curses, fooled again.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Why do brands do this? To get attention.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I can sympathize: if you don’t get people’s attention, no one’s going to read your content.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

“Authenticity” is often equated with “purpose.” As in: a brand must be true to its “purpose.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Brands seem to redefine their purpose in response to current events.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Too often brand purpose becomes flavor-of-the-month political correctness.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“We’re here for you during the pandemic.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You heard that a few million times, right?blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Right now many brands are donating to “Black Lives Matter.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Black Lives Matter (the organization, not the slogan) supports defunding the police and “disrupting” the nuclear family. As part of the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), BLM also supports “reparations for past and continuing harms,” and abolishing capitalism.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Do brands really support these same goals?– or are they afraid of being denounced as racially insensitive if they don’t donate?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

(CNET published a list of donating brands, and prefaced it with this line: “CNET encourages you to spend some time researching the companies you buy from to ensure they align with your values and ethics.”)blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Jumping on bandwagons is just another flying pig. Strictly short-term. It gets you the “right” attention, and/or keeps you out of someone’s crosshairs.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It’s also “keeping up with the Joneses,” and doing what everyone else is doing.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Which is really short-term thinking because it means you blend in when brands need to stand out.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

A better strategy: have a great product or service. Provide great customer service. Be an expert. Figure out a way to be different. Treat all your employees and customers with the same respect and courtesy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Oh– my pet parrot just said to add: be human.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Huh. Funny advice coming from a bird.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I think he means to smile, laugh, and be pleasant. People buy from people they like.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Stay away from clickbait and being “authentic” if it means being like everyone else.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Remember the above-mentioned psychology experiment: flying pigs tend to backfire– and it’s no fun getting smacked with a high-velocity pig.

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Freddy J. Nager creative strategist USC professor marketing communication

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2020 11:11 AM

    “…getting smacked with a high-velocity pig” !!!!! No fun at all, but you’re safe for an eternity. Ambrosia flowing your way! 😉 🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨🍨

    Like

    • July 27, 2020 12:33 PM

      The Ambrosia Barricade!!– the most effective pig-deflecting strategy ever devised!!– the most delicious one, too!! Thank you, O Pulchritudinous Painter of the Pantheon!! 🍨😋🎨⚡️😍🚀

      Like

  2. July 24, 2020 7:46 PM

    In other words, don’t try to put lipstick on a pig…

    Like

    • July 27, 2020 12:37 PM

      That’s it exactly!! Why, you could get a sty in yer eye!! Thank you, O Witty One Of The North!! 💋🐷🚫😊

      Like

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