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April 4, 2008

Tamara Gillan: A marketer calls for honesty

From faked phone-in competitions and misleading advertising to doctored documentaries, tinkering with the truth happens every day, so I’m mounting a campaign for a national Tell The Truth Day.

Wherever you look these days, it is becoming increasingly acceptable to mislead and distort and I think it’s time for those of us who feel strongly about truth to take a stand on this.

Politics has always been perceived as a riddled with dishonesty, so I wrote to every MP to ask for their support for a national day of honesty. Encouragingly, a number responded, including Ann Widdecombe, Henry Bellingham, Laura Moffat, Derek Wyatt and Susan Kramer. Some, though, declined and most did not respond at all.

I’m not really surprised or disappointed that so many MPs wouldn’t get involved. Telling the truth isn’t always easy, particularly if it’s going to upset someone, damage a relationship or compromise national security!

I’m not suggesting we all become paragons of honesty whatever the consequences, just that we think more carefully about what we do and say. We might find a more honest way to conduct ourselves in our work and our personal lives. I would urge people to write to their own MPs, saying that they would like to see a national Tell The Truth Day become reality.

Clearly there is a good business case for honesty. I run marketing agency SPF 15 and know that consumers are becoming more empowered, particularly as a result of digital communications and the internet.

If you obviously mislead them about a product, they may not try it. Even if you merely exaggerate a claim, the consumer will find out and tell everyone they know. So, you gain nothing. How much better would it be to be honest about a product’s attributes, let consumers try it and be pleasantly surprised and then tell all their friends?

We can all make a national New Year’s resolution to be more honest with each other. Let’s make it official with a National Tell The Truth Day on 3 January and take that as a starting point for a new way of dealing with other.

Award-winning marketer Tamara Gillan is managing director of marketing agency SPF 15

To support Tamara's Tell The Truth Day, email comments @eventsreview.com

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