Spilling the Brand Promise

Other than our fearless editor, I don’t know too many people who are boycotting BP.
I don’t see a mass outrage over the spill. Still, could they ever go back to foisting this campaign on the public?

I think the ad industry, by pumping this image, fares worse than BP ever will.

While it’s true that consumers have gained control over when and where they hear from a brand, they don’t control the internal machinations of a company. And few folks are interested enough to pay attention before something goes kaflooey. In BP’s case, we’re interested in damage control but we didn’t care about damage prevention. Now that they’ve got a problem BP will try to engage consumers in some sort of conversation about this spill, but don’t be fooled: They’ll spend more time using their lobbying influence behind closed doors to protect their core oil business at all costs despite what their ads say.
So as advertising professionals, do we have any obligation to ensure that brands don’t promise more or aspire to something greater than they’re capable of delivering? We know when we’re lying about product benefits or claims, but when it comes to a brand’s values or corporate social responsibility, the truth is much, much murkier.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Awesome column, Dan. No doubt, ad people are totally guilty of creating all kinds of false images and messages, a.k.a brand-sponsored propaganda. Which is why most of us are as trustworthy as used car salesmen, and why most ads are ignored by the majority of the population.
    To make matters worse, it’s the brands that have a questionable product or service that need advertising the most. When the product or service actually is good, only a modest amount of advertising is needed (because word gets around).