We’ve all been on the receiving end of a product or service that’s promised the earth and, well, we’ve ended up with a 1980s plastic globe with a bit missing from it.

Businesses like to elaborate, and it’s certainly not always a bad thing but sometimes your content could benefit from a good dollop of honesty thrown in. I know, I know, it might feel like you’re naked in public but I’ve chosen some great examples of where businesses have benefitted from just telling it how it is. Now frills, no fakery – just honesty.

Businesses sway toward creating content that only focuses on positives; ‘I don’t want this sentence it sounds negative’ is a phrase that content creators everywhere will have heard time and time again. Facebook is the most amazing unintended example of this approach. How often have you read through posts from people who are just having THE best time, and their lives just simply CANNOT get any better…the cynic in everyone says ‘yeah, right.’ And that’s exactly what happens to your content when you craft it that way.

People respond to honest content far better than they do ‘positive’ content. Why? Well, honesty builds trust. And if there’s one way to connect with your audience it’s through trust. There’s also a school of thought that thinks it helps to filter out the people who aren’t really interested anyway. Bonus.

So, who are these businesses that have so successfully built honesty into their content and it’s worked?
Take a look.

Mini Cooper
In the land of gas-guzzling car lovers, or the USA as it’s more commonly known, Mini had a massive challenge on its hands. How on earth could they create a campaign that would entice Americans to ditch their 4x4s and convert to Mini? They grabbed honesty by the horns and just told America the truth. And what happened? Mini went from just 2% of the market share to selling more cars in the US than they did in Britain.


I promise that all of these aren’t about cars. But this is a fantastic example of honest content, created over 50 years ago. Avis were the second choice for car rental in the US, and they knew it. They wanted to change that. So what did they do? They hired an agency who created them a tagline that played to the beautifully honest truth.
Avis. We’re Number Two, So We Try Harder.
What happened? It turned their profits around within a year. Did it make them number one? Not in sales maybe, but in marketing it certainly did.


This advert should at least trigger a smirk inside you, if not an actual laugh. It’s bold and brazen. And it works because people aren’t stupid. There aren’t any secrets any more, and people are quick to bring brands down once they realise they’re not what they’re cracked up to be. People buying branded drinks know they’re paying extra for the advertising/branding/marketing so why not just accept that within your campaign? People still buy them and they’re right, it’s a very refreshing approach.

oasis campaign

Hans Brinker Hotel
Nobody sets out to be the worst at what they do. But even if you are it’s certainly not a disaster, as the Hans Brinker Hotel has shown. Essentially it’s a budget hostel in Amsterdam; beds, old school lockers in bedrooms…you get the picture. Their website is just a treasure-trove of incredibly bold honest marketing. Even on the home page their tag line is “The hotel that couldn’t care less, but we will try.” And the picture of the exterior of the hotel, you’ll laugh yourself silly (and if you don’t, you haven’t looked hard enough…). They’ve carved out a niche for themselves of curious travellers who want to go just to see how bad it is and they’re doing so well, they’re opening a hostel in Lisbon…alongside another genius campaign.

Hans Brinker Hotel