Now that ad agencies are expanding their offerings to include more social media components, more far-reaching interactive ideas, and other forms of “content,” we’re now filling the media pipelines with lots of information. Is it news? Is it propaganda? Is it credible?
Some brands are locked in a battle to win consumers over. The battle becomes even more heated when it’s a product under serious criticism. Take high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap sugar substitute you’ll find in foods in every section of the grocery store. Many scientists believe high-fructose corn syrup affects our bodies differently than refined sugar. But the folks who manufacture it will argue otherwise–on TV, in letters to the editor, even on Twitter. The debate pits scientist against scientist and expert against expert, many of whom have their own agendas to push.
It’s one of my favorite quotes, by the author Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” In a world where facts are malleable, brands can step in and dictate the facts. We don’t believe experts anymore. We don’t know what qualifies someone to be an expert. Frankly, the door is wide open for marketers to exploit this – because we don’t even trust our news media to tell us the truth. They tell us a version of the truth.
It’s the focus of my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.