Authenticity in advertising

The advertisement was for a local car dealership. It was a third tier spot with the local dealer in front of the camera. Trying to jump on the popular topic of fuel efficiency (gas prices here are somewhere between $3.19 and $3.30 a gallon, and climbing), the announcer rattled off some tips on how to improve your gas mileage. The last tip was to buy a brand new pickup that gets up to 23 miles to the gallon.

I thought he was joking.

Since when did 23 miles to the gallon equate to good fuel efficiency?

This is not a post about the environment or gasoline. It is about authenticity.

Do I believe that a car salesman with a lot full of large SUVs to sell is really concerned with me getting better gas mileage? Of course not. He is concerned with selling cars. To do that, he needs people on the lot. So the goal of his advertising is to get me to come to his dealership. If you really get down to it, those annoying ads with screaming announcers talking about a limited sale are actually more authentic.

I’m not saying I like them. They have their own issues and a screaming person is never the best way to market to people. But when you advertise without authenticity, you hurt your brand just as much, if not more, than when you annoy people.

Tim Mathers has a great take on authenticity at the Fast Company blog. His subject is McDonalds and their Shrek healthy diets promotion. Again, McDonalds and healthy eating? Not so authentic.