“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” George Orwell.

Strong advertising needs to have truth at its heart. Ads are quite rightly regulated to make sure they are honest, but we live in a time when advertisers increasingly appear to be avoiding saying anything of real substance or worth, and this lack of any substance is in itself an act of deceit.

But people know when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and they can see when you’re using the old look at the cute animal trick.

Honest and truthful advertising stands out and hits home harder. Potential customers are far more likely to relate to what you’re saying when it has a point and is genuinely relevant to them (and there’s a chance it may become that rare advertising that people actually appreciate or find useful).

Clearly, it’s sometimes difficult to find worthwhile and truthful things to say about a product or brand, and it’s even harder to distil them into something pithy, memorable or entertaining.

Advertising people have got out of the habit or worse, in some cases, lack the ability or even the will to do it. They either give up too early or fail to even try in the first place. There isn’t anything worthwhile to say, so let’s just make a funny cat video and hope people like it... appears to be an increasingly common response.

The ability to seek out and distil honest and worthwhile things to communicate is extremely valuable.

In fact, it’s one of the most valuable skills that advertising agencies can bring to business.

Our new book ‘How To Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better – The Manifesto for a New Creative Revolution’ is available exclusively at the Design Museum.


  1. Got the book. Read the first page/foreword. Wondered if you were telepathic or if the agency I work in is so divorced from reality as to be a pantomime of reality.

    Then I realized that it was reality, was all to common, and was why you wrote the book. I feel like the French Underground circa 1942. Not sure what to do, but I know I gotta do something.

  2. @Salty: The only thing you can do is either join an independent agency or start your own with clients who can't afford to not say anything of real substance or worth. Everywhere else you get people who are afraid to lose their jobs by standing for something. Sorry, I mean who are being "difficult".

  3. Hi Salty, thanks for your comment - and for buying the book. Exactly, that's why we wrote the book. As for what to do.... that's the million dollar question... Anon has it about right.