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On why bullshit only gets you so far.

Everyone lies on their CV – that's resume for you – anyway. No one actually developed all the campaigns they have in their portfolio or book. And I might as well put that I got a first from Oxford since no one's ever checked any of my degrees or references.

Source: not me

It's fun to argue with people at work.

My belief that – at its best – advertising is there to help people lead richer, fuller, more enjoyable lives is often met with mockery from more cynical factions.

Ditto my conviction that the truth will generally come out, and that bullshit and lies will be exposed.

And so – we debate.

Now yes: Anyone who says they singlehandedly developed a campaign is probably lying. And any recruiter or interviewer who believes them is lazy, naive, or easily impressed.

But that's why most people would use the campaigns in their portfolio as starting point to discuss successful teamwork.

And I always hold up the example of Brian Williams to my daughter to illustrate how lies (specifically lies about your career) can come back and bite you: formerly one of the most respected NBC newsanchors (at least in my opinion – and he always seemed to have such a good sense of humor about himself on 30 Rock), Williams said in early 2015 that he'd been shot down in a helicopter in Iraq in 2003.

This turned out to be...not true.

As a result, Williams was suspended from work, and lost a lot of credence.

Which is obviously essential if you work in broadcasting.

And it's the same when it comes to advertising in general.

Sure, you can bullshit through your strategy. You can make up things for branding. Obfuscate. "The lightbulb represents the cusp of inspiration, garnered from distilled insights and innovations and reflecting that we, indeed, have within us the potential to ignite, if not drive further, and shed light upon our surroundings."

But: if there isn't a truth at the bottom of it, the campaign won't resonate.

It'll just be a Potemkin Village of a statement.

That might fool some people.

But not everyone.

And not for the long term.

And to me least, it's more satisfying to find the inner truth than to just make up something that initially sounds good – but doesn't hold up to closer scrutiny.

 

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