Marketing lies, beauty, and the Maple Leafs

laurenYouTube is chock full of spoof ads, most of them awful. This morning I watched one that was surprisingly well made, if not particularly clever. The ad was a Toronto Maple Leafs-themed spoof on another Hogtown creation, the award-winning Dove Evolution video that drew attention to the deceptive beauty of the fashion industry.

Around the same time I was catching up on the Ralph Lauren photoshop scandal — what a sick yet well-deserved mess that has become. My morning browsing eventually got me thinking: how am I lying to my audience?

Now, I don’t believe I’ve pumped plus-sized shams out of my MacBook. But let’s not deceive ourselves. Even in the nonprofit world, we are susceptible to acts of exaggeration.

So join me and take this opportunity to review your marketing materials and see what information might be a tad doctored, touched up, or based on truthiness. I hope you’re not telling any whoppers, but don’t be surprised to discover inflated statistics, overstated challenges, or a touch of hyperbole.

Even the most innocent fibs can leave you exposed and vulnerable to criticism, and may jeopardize the trust of your supporters. The work you do is impressive enough without the need to embellish, so focus on communicating with fairness and accuracy. Your audience will thank you for it.

For your entertainment, here’s the slapshot spoof of the Dove Evolution video.

And here’s the original, award-winning spot.

October 17, 2009