Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This made me cringe: Misleading advertising

marketing help, crisis management

I listened this morning, as the Managing Director of a broadband company answered a horrible question. It was one of those interviews that makes you cringe.

The interviewer asked her, on national radio, why her company had misled consumers with their advertising. Rather than answer the question, she sidestepped it. Instead, she talked about her commitment to improve their future advertising. It’s a tactic that politicians use to avoid answering tricky questions.

Tip: The worst possible approach to dealing with a charge of being misleading, is to mislead people with your answer. At best, it eventually stops the interviewer from asking you the damaging question. However, it also makes you sound evasive and suggests you’re hiding something, which is exactly what you don’t need when dealing with a situation like this.

A missed opportunity

The reason I have not named the company in question, is that the charge against it by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, is aimed at the whole UK broadband industry.

With the entire industry coming under fire, this would have been a great opportunity to show some leadership and earn some credibility. To stand up, own up, say sorry and explain the commercial reality behind the misleading advertisements. That opportunity was missed.

It’s always a choice

When it comes to situations like this, prevention is better than cure. And we can prevent this kind of problem by making better choices.

Regardless of the industry we find ourselves in, it’s down to us to decide what strategies and tactics we use. We don’t need to follow the flock. If, as in this case, we’re in an industry known for misleading advertising, we can choose to stand out by being transparent, honest and consumer focused. It’s our choice, whichever route we decide to take.

Honesty, integrity and leadership have always been highly valued in business. I believe this is truer today than ever before.

Recommended reading: 21 Powerful habits behind highly successful business owners.

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Originally posted on this blog

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