It’s that time of year again.
The time we eagerly await (and endlessly discuss) the latest John Lewis TV ad… the time we ask if M&S is cutting the mustard in its Christmas Food campaign… and the time when I look at the celebs in the ads, and wonder how big a gift their agents got for simply answering a phone call.
But let’s not be churlish – it’s Christmas after all.
Mind you, there are other examples of festive foolishness we have to endure at this very special time.
For instance, ‘Black Friday’. It isn’t just a fictitious day made up to act like a starting pistol for shoppers everywhere – whether they know about Thanksgiving or not. Now it’s a day, weekend, week or even month of mild peril - forced on us to show how much money we won’t save if we don’t spend like crazy people.
Then there’s Cyber Monday. It’s the marketing man’s answer to not having thought up Black Friday, and if anyone can tell me what it actually means, there’s a gift going to be left in your neighbour’s bin while you wait by the door for it to be delivered.
But this year the BCAP Code has thrown up another unrequested Christmas gift for marketers to enjoy. Code Rules 3-33 and 3-35 have been updated to make sure that ads don’t include a comparison with an identifiable competitor’s product or service which is misleading or likely to mislead. Any comparisons must be relevant and, yes folks, verifiable.
On the face of it, it’s just another addition to the red tape we have to negotiate on the way to making brands famous. But there IS a point to it. When people talk about ‘trust issues’ and ‘brand integrity’ in advertising, and are quick to brand all marketing professionals as liars and cheats – I’d ask them to consider this;
Wouldn’t it be nice if every tradesperson, every employer, every partner, every acquaintance – and especially every Politician – was subject to a ban, a fine, or worse every time they deliberately lied to you?
You see, the truth doesn’t have to hurt at all.