Good Advertising Consists of Desirable Lies People Prefer to Hear (Because the Truth Sucks the Glaze Off a Donut Sometimes)

Robert J. Flaherty

“Sometimes you have to lie. One often has to distort a thing to catch its true spirit.” – Robert J. Flaherty, Born Feb. 16, 1884.

Consider a poem, which often describes reality with a refined and elegant metaphor – one that reveals a deep but unobservable truth about a given thing.

But despite the bard's immortal prose, love is NOT a red, red rose. Juliet is NOT the sun. Those are lies.

Consider also a painting, that represents reality seen through the selective choices of the artist's hand and eye. Light, color, shape, angle – all altered and enhanced to bring out an underlying beauty in the subject, which is not so much part of the original experience, as it is a commentary on it.

Cici n'est pas une pipe. Vegetable oil and plant based pigments, smeared onto woven cotton or plaster or wood – not the real object. A trick of perception. A lie.

Consider too the film that is based on a true story, but is edited with dramatic license to control pacing and tension, and to create a more satisfying arc of development – one that actual real life stories almost never have.

Based on a true story, but BETTER. A more entertaining lie, when truth isn't as believable as it should be.

Now consider (finally) an advertisement…

Which people get super defensive about when I connect with lying…

Understand that only a lawyer can give you legal advice on whether your copy falls within the confines of the laws you operate under…

But within the realm of what is legally allowed, you should absolutely be distorting reality in order to reveal and expose the hidden but TRUE inner essence of the product or service on offer.

Exaggerate the positives and compound them with each other. Minimize the negatives (or pivot them into benefits).

Make a legendary figure out of the product creator or service provider. Their story is a tale of destiny that is culminating RIGHT NOW with your reader's decision to purchase this life changing product – a product which is merely the hinge upon which their entire existence will now bend toward a more desirable and successful angle.

If you color outside the lines and push it too far just say “fuck it” and keep going. Trim it back later, but get lost in the poetry of it for the first draft at least.

Become Monet, and don't paint boring flowers. Paint the glorious radiance of the sun as it bounces off those flowers in an array of colors unbound by form…

Don't tell a true story – tell a story BASED on a true story but improved for dramatic impact and emotional satisfaction.

Lie until you chisel the hidden truth out of that block of rough stone.

Or boo hoo hoo about how lying is wrong and you would NEVER! *clutch pearls for emphasis*

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