More on Likeability versus Believability

I’ve been thinking more about yesterday’s post regarding the difference between likeable and believable.

My first job was at O&M. People daily repeated David Ogilvy’s exhortation that we  ‘interrogate the product until it confesses the truth’. This was the job of the agency, particularly of creative people.

But in the last few years the roles have changed. It’s now consumers who interrogate brands until they confess the truth. In a world in which nothing a brand does is ever really secret, the truth will always out. So our focus has to be on making executions that are believable. And the onus for delivering this falls to the brand (and the client) at least as much as it does to the execution (and the agency).

Maybe this has implications for how we treat Planning in agencies. When Planning sprang up it was about ensuring that there was a consumer voice represented in discussions – to focus on the reality of the audience. Over time this evolved to be about how we uncover what’s most interesting about a brand or issue, and how, hopefully, we connect the two via a brilliant creative idea. But maybe we need to be more focussed on what’s real about the brand, not just what’s interesting? (I understand that this is pretty cynical, and that generally they should be the same thing, but isn’t it true that the ‘substantiation’ or ‘why would I believe this’ section of the creative brief still tends toward the fictional in most cases?)

Because it’s a problem for the industry that we’re increasingly talking to an audience that judges what we do based on whether it’s believable.

They’re doing the interrogation. They know whether we’re telling the truth. And we’re in trouble if we’re making likeable executions on behalf of brands that aren’t.

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More on Likeability versus Believability

One thought on “More on Likeability versus Believability

  1. bob says:

    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you. — Oscar Wilde

    The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing; if you can fake that, you’ve got it made. — Groucho Marx

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