Make Certain Your Marketing Is GenuineNotice the picture at left. A friend posted this picture with the comment, “Genuine chocolate FLAVOR? lol”  Followed by others who posted along the lines of “What’s the world coming to?”

As I looked at the picture, being of a generation where the word “genuine” actually means “real”, the comments threw me. Isn’t the Hershey Company saying that the flavor of their chocolate syrup is genuine? That is, genuine because it’s real?

Or are they saying the flavor is genuine in spite of the artificial flavoring?

This really cuts to the heart of today’s marketing.

First of all, the consumer is cynical and does not trust the messager. The erosion of ethics is the source of that mistrust. Companies have no difficulty manipulating wording and images to deceive the consumer. Advertising is associated with false claims but aren’t there some brands we can trust? Doesn’t Tide get clothes cleaner?!

Breyers Ice Cream used to be advertised as “all natural”. Remember the kid reading the label of another brand and stumbling over the words of the preservatives? Then he reads the Breyers label: Milk, cream, sugar, vanilla. That was impressive. Byers is now contaminated with a “natural” gum which was added to both stretch the product and make it easier to ship. The gum holds it together. Milk and cream melt. Gum ruins the mouth-feel of Bryers which is one of the most expensive ice creams in the store.

Byers still makes the natural claim because the gum they add is natural in their lexicon. I find tar, arsenic and lead in my dictionary of naturally occurring items but don’t want any of them in my natural ice cream.

So what do we as marketers do to regain the public trust?

Start by making only real, honest claims. Don’t manipulate the language. Don’t “go résumé” on the consumer. (Consider the 20 year old who was responsible for purchasing office supplies thus claiming to have saved the company millions of dollars when all they really did was call Office Max and order pens.)

Back up the claim by offering proof in the form of data, references or testimonials. (Even in confidential work there are cases the business can discuss)

Finally, and most importantly, offer a real guaranty of satisfaction.

Money back if not satisfied. Return unused portion with copy of receipt in original packaging at your own expense with a written essay of not less than 1,000 words explaining the failure along with full color images supporting your claim and we will cheerfully refund your money after our legal department completes a full investigation….  That’s not a guaranty. That’s a warranty. A lousy warranty.

What’s the difference?

A guaranty means that satisfaction is guaranteed. The consumer WILL get a remedy if not satisfied. It is assured.

A warranty is what the company will do if the consumer is not satisfied.

The difference is huge. If you buy a pencil that comes with a guaranty of satisfaction, the company must do everything possible (and reasonable) to satisfy the consumer if the consumer finds fault with the product for any reason. A warranty specifies the company’s definition of failure (faulty parts or workmanship) and remedy (will send a replacement part at your expense).

What’s better, a warranty or a guaranty?

Keep that in mind when you shop for expensive items. Look for the words warranty or guaranty—sometimes both. Sears products are covered by warranty and the store adds to that with a satisfaction guaranty.

The manipulation of the words warranty and guaranty have made consumers cynical. Abuse of words like natural, healthy and effective make for cynical consumers.

So what about the example above? Is Hershey’s use of the word “genuine” a bending of the truth? Or is the company using a word the market no longer trusts? What do you think?

Well, as in most cases today, Hershey walks a fine line of ethical advertising. While their “genuine” chocolate product does contain cocoa, it is also artificially flavored.

You’ll have to decide if Hershey is being completely honest with us. I think we can do better.

Here are the ingredients as lifted from Hershey’s website:


Chris Reich writes about ethics in advertising

Chris Reich, TeachU
(FW: 130)