In a post-Trump era, it’s not uncommon to see politicians using populism as a mode of communication, choosing to speak to the “common man” –  the everyday folks just like us.

It’s smart, really. Communicate with your audience by saying exactly what they are thinking. It’s more real, more authentic, more believable. Right?

It’s not surprising then, that marketers are jumping on the populism bandwagon, attempting to appeal to their audience by offering transparency in their marketing campaigns. They do this by communicating that they have flaws too, and can connect with people in real ways. With so many options out there, customers have a greater expectation to know all of the facts before making decisions, so this type of marketing makes sense.

Here are a few marketing campaigns that have flaunted their flaws all the way to the bank:

1. McDonalds – In one of the most well known transparency campaigns, McDonald’s encouraged customers to publicly ask any question they may have about the company. Questions like, “Is your chicken really made from pink slime?” gave McDonald’s a way to dispel any myths and rumours.

2. Clearasil – Another brand that has started laying it all out for consumers is Clearasil. Their campaign: “we know acne, we don’t know teens” admits that the big shots over at Clearasil don’t really know their audience, and unlike other acne companies, they aren’t afraid to say it. But maybe they know their audience better than they claim. Teens demand honesty, and here is Clearasil, giving them exactly what they want.

3. Classico – Acknowledging that their pasta sauce is not quite as good as Grandma’s, Classico claims to come in a close second. After all, being second best is more achievable than first best. The company knows that even though their consumers value homemade sauce above all,“for those nights when they want to deliver a great meal, but don’t have a lot of time, they want a high quality pasta sauce alternative.” The campaign has paid off big for Classico, with consumers starting to advocate for the brand online, and dollar-share growth reaching the highest in its history.

This vulnerability marketing might not be for everyone. After all, taking risks is risky business. If not done right, it could fuel consumers’ already-negative attitudes toward a business and, if companies aren’t doing anything to fix their flaws, consumers may start to lose faith. Sell your wrongs just right, however, and the payoff could be sweet perfection.

Wondering if a warts-and-all approach might be your best marketing strategy? Come in for a free consult. If it’s not the right approach, we’ll find one that is.


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