Late to the party: hyperhonesty in ads

This is a new segment I’m calling ‘Late to the the party’, in which I take the doctor’s advice and let things I’ve taken in settle for a while before responding.

This summer, there was positive press in the marketing mags for the “Refreshing Stuff” Oasis campaign created by The Corner. The campaign presented a meta look at its own advertising, lampshading the more cynical elements of the message.


Revealing the ulterior motive for the ad

one everyone knows on some level, but which is usually salved away by canny copy

was a bold move. The modern sales pitch normally forms the corsetry beneath the fine gown of the final edit. Feeling like you’re being sold to is a guaranteed turn-off, and every copy guide out there has advice on framing the call to action so as not to burst the bubble.

I like the idea of telling it straight, and the tie-in to the slogan, but for me as a consumer, it just doesn’t work.

Instead of feeling warmed by the conspiratorial tone, I feel rebuffed by its coldness. In my mind, there’s an unspoken “Get used to it”/”Suck it up”/”Deal” sitting there in place of the slogan.

It’s not so much a case of “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” as “Talk to me, not at me.” I would have liked to feel that as a consumer I was getting a peek behind the scenes, not being told to lump it and cough up. 

[I would also add that the illustration of the drink itself feels anything but refreshing – its opacity reminds me of strawberry syrup or ketchup, and that doesn’t exactly make me want to chin a bottle of it.]

Other examples had varied success for me. 


The right-hand poster I do quite enjoy. It’s got a meekness to it that makes me think of Sgt Wilson in Dad’s Army asking if everyone wouldn’t mind awfully falling in. The left-hand example feels a bit too smug, with the joke falling on the reader. You don’t feel much like moneying someone who’s mocking you.

Overall, while I applaud a revival of the trend for honesty advertising (amid fond memories of the Marmite and Boddington’s adverts of yore), and the fun to be had there for copywriters and designers, for me this one doesn’t quite hit the spot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *