Some believe there’s not enough truth in advertising. And putting some back in is a rich vein of comedy, as The Onion has showed once again.
The Onion has a long history of skewering the unrealistic attitudes of marketers and advertisers (exhibit A and exhibit B) and its latest trick is a story about a new (fake) campaign by Revlon called ‘You are what you are‘, “which debuted with dark and haunting multi-page spreads in several major fashion magazines, cautions consumers that, at best, makeup is a sad disguise people hide behind in a futile attempt to avoid uncomfortable facts about their true nature”.
“With our new ad campaign, we want to emphasize that you can buy all the lotions, powders, and fragrances you want, but you can’t escape who you really are: a fragile, flawed, and ultimately insignificant being who is tormented by fear and insecurity,” Revlon vice president Vivian Falk said in a press release introducing the advertisements. “It’s fine to use our products if they make you feel a little more attractive, but just remember it’s only a temporary distraction from the terrifying reality of your barren, unfulfilling life. Your existence is a dismal and feeble one, and no amount of mascara is ever going to change that,” Falk added.
… Company representatives further revealed that a new 60-second TV commercial would star a visibly distressed actress who scrutinizes her sallow and tear-streaked reflection in disgust before screaming and smashing the mirror with her fist, a sequence intended to highlight the unglamorous and excruciating character of all existence. An emotionless, monotone voice-over conveys the devastating psychological toll of coming to terms with one’s identity, saying, “Look at yourself: weak, afraid, all alone in this world. Everyone sees through you. Only death awaits. Revlon.”
For a bit more honesty, here are some great truthful slogans from graphic designer Clif Dickens (Perrier’s ‘Rich People Water’ and Hall’s Candy with Directions’ stand out) and BuzzFeed’s more appropriate app slogans.
And here’s how things might play out if there was some truth in the process of making advertising.