THE ALTERNATIVE TRUTH
Alternative truths are very topical right now, but what is an alternate truth? Isn’t that just another way of saying a lie? Well, no. There’s more than one way to read a sentence, and what one person will take from it is quite different from another. Perhaps we’re better to say “what’s implied” rather than “alternate truth”.
In court you’re asked to swear that you will give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
But there’s the truth and then there’s the whole truth.
You can give a true statement that is 100% fact, but the devil is in the details.
Imagine you’re someone who constantly talks about all things healthy – the virtues of eating all things green and not eating processed food or refined carbohydrates. One Friday night when you really fancy a burger and chips (OMG!), your mates catch you down the pub, teeth deep in a bacon double cheese, they might have something to say about it. Even though you’ve never said you don’t occasionally succumb to the odd cheesy chip dipped in an Oreo milkshake, by NOT saying anything people assume that you only eat broccoli and legumes 24/7.
Inference is everything. It’s a marketer’s well-honed weapon.
Say you’re a company that sells clothing for extreme weather. You want to set yourself apart from similar products, your coats are super warm and you can prove that with data. You want your tagline to be: the WARMEST coat available.
It just so happens that other companies do sell different coats that are as warm, but not warmer. So your tagline “the WARMEST coat available” is true, but it does imply that you can’t get a coat as warm anywhere else, so you wouldn’t get that one past the ASA.
So, a couple of options. You could change it to: one of the WARMEST coats available. It still says you as selling THE warmest coat, but it’s out there for all to see – you’ve plainly said that you’re not the only one.
There is another option. How about: NO coat is warmer. It’s the truth, but not quite the whole truth. An alternate reality. You’re not saying anyone else’s product is warmer than yours, but you’re banking on the fact that’s implicit…just not explicit…and the ASA are happy.
It’s all very nuanced, subtle, refined. Just one word (or the elimination of it) can make allllllll the difference.