Label PRomotion | Time for Truth in Labeling that Goes Beyond Regs

The 1990 film “Crazy People” relates the story of a disgruntled advertising executive (Dudley Moore) who winds up in a mental institution, “where his career actually begins to thrive with the help of the hospital’s patients,” according to an IMDb profile.

The description goes on to say, “Emory works in advertising, and is beginning to crack-up. His latest idea is honesty, e.g. ‘Volvos, Yes they are boxy, but they're safe’…This doesn't go down too well with the boss, so Emory is sent to a psychiatric hospital to 'recover’…Meanwhile, back at the office, Emory's work is accidentally sent to the printers. His ads are a huge success.”

In today’s world of fake news and never-ending hype, there is an ever-increasing desire for truth in anything. How about labeling and branding honesty? While Dudley Moore’s Volvo campaign may not pass muster, there’s a lot of room for truthful labels that do more than just meet regulatory requirements.

Think of the PR opportunities tied to labels and branding that exuded honesty instead of hype. Especially now, when social media has become the ultimate lie detector, the refreshing and authentic approach may work wonders to set a company well apart from the competition.

Notes in an article about transparency in marketing,According to the 2016 Food Revolution Study, 94 percent of consumers say transparency is important to their purchase decisions. Empowered by choice and information, customers have a greater expectation—and demand—for transparency from brands.”

Adweek speaks to this hot trend among millennials in an article headlined, “Ads Are Shifting From Aspirational to Honest in Their Portrayal of Parenting…Babies R Us, Kraft Mac & Cheese and Yoplait are going for realism.”

The article points out, “Brands are shifting away from aspirational messages with an idealized vision of family and instead infusing campaigns with moments of realism—showing moms who curse, a dad who accidentally destroys a bouncy castle, parents who forget things—because that’s exactly what millennials want to see from brands… According to exclusive research from BabyCenter, 66 percent of millennial moms say it’s important for brands to realistically portray parenting.”

It's time to let go of branding that advocates, “Never let them see you sweat.” Labels can be a great place to test this authenticity. A quick visit to Pinterest reveals some honest, entertaining (and fictional) branding that can tickle your funny bone if nothing else. Examples include, “Ben & Jerry’s…Eat Away Your Feelings,” “Bounty [paper towels]…Makeshift Plates,” and “Lego…The Bane of Your Foot’s Existence.”

Here are some ways to work toward the lofty goal of real truth in advertising, starting with your labels:

  1. Hold a contest for the best, most clever label revisions. This can be among stakeholders, put out as a crowdsourcing event, promoted on your website and social media, et al. There’s an inherent challenge here: Providing enough direction that people can envision where you want to go, without stifling creativity with too many “rules.” This is one area you’ll have to think through. Echoing the sentiments of Aristotle who advocated everything in moderation, you may want to provide a few starter ideas to set the tone, then let people have at it.
  2. Test out small batches of different product labels resulting from this contest on a variety of audiences, a focus group on steroids, if you will. Obviously, more nimble, newer companies willing to experiment are the best candidates.
  3. Report results via social media, to mainstream and trade media, and through company channels—website, blog, and the like. Regardless of what comes out of it as far as new branding, the story itself could prove a valuable way to set yourself distinctly apart from your competition.
  4. Evaluate the overall experience and outcomes. Presuming the net effect is positive—both on reputation and revenues—rinse and repeat. Take what’s been learned from Round 1, and initiate subsequent efforts to overhaul image, branding and even corporate culture and policies.

You may wind up with a huge success just like Emory in “Crazy People.”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is president of Lusky Enterprises Inc., a marketing communications and content development company. Since 2008, he has worked with Lightning Labels, a Denver-based all-digital printing company specializing in custom labels and stickers, as a content developer offering expert advice articles. Lusky presents common-sense ideas grounded in doing what’s real and right for managing and enhancing public image.

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