Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Telstra's Handle on Truth in Advertising

Telstra, Telstra, Telstra. Can nothing go right for Telstra? Today a report in The Age, that Telstra pulled a series of advertisements about its Next G mobile telephone network after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) raised concerns regarding the validity of particular statements. The statements in question – “Everywhere you need it" and "Get the coverage you need" were of particular interest to the ACCC.

When the ACCC head, Graeme Samuel, says "when the whole of Australia is not covered and coverage is not always available where consumers need it" – it comes across not only as a critic of Telstra’s advertising, its a damning critic of Telstra’s services and products.

No matter what you are selling, a product, service or yourself - you have to be careful in what you promise that you can deliver. Nothing is worse than a “let down”, and nothing destroys integrity and authenticity like false claims and incorrect brand positioning.

On the whole “truth in advertising” topic just a couple of random points:

1. Your Consumers can handle the truth. In fact we crave it and when we don't get we are disappointed.

2. Consumers are great at taking the piss out of you brand - and in the process redefines your brands image...FOR THE WORSE! Check out these good examples from valley of the geeks

3. The Heart Foundation Tick of approval. A friend of mine worked one of the campaigns for the Heart Foundation Tick. The original copy for the ad was "the Heart Foundation Tick - the label that can't be bought". After some due diligence, the lawyers worked out that they couldn't say this, because companies do have to purchase the right to have the tick displayed on their products packaging, even though the food also has to meet other nutritional requirements. That is the label can be bought, and in fact, is bought. So they had to revise to the new tagline: “the tick that can't just be bought". I thought this is good anecdote that highlights sometimes how fickle all this truth in advertising can be. I am sure Telstra will live and learn…well at least live!

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