Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Huh! Openness and honesty turn out to be pleasing to people—even customers

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I found that via this interesting article on the whole McDonald’s Canada campaign. (I think such a campaign would be harder in the US, where executives tend to think openness and honesty are counter-productive to increasing profits, and so finding an executive who remains capable of honesty is difficult. It’s not something you can just turn on and off. That’s practically the definition of dishonesty, in fact: turning honesty off by choice. No one can be dishonest in every statement, and for dishonesty to work, one must be trusted. So the whole art of dishonesty is to be honest except that you can turn it off when it’s to your advantage. And once you learn how to turn it off, it’s hard to unlearn it, because leaving it on is often painful. Much easier to turn it off—and so we have executives like those at Uber. But not just Uber: GM, JP Morgan Chase (in spades and depth), and so on. Police departments and crime reports. Our own NSA and other government agencies. Our president.

Trust, once broken, is damned difficult to regain. And I think Reagan wrecked our trust in government, both in word (“The nine scariest words in the English language: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”; “The government can’t fix the problem—the government is the problem.” and so on) and in deed (Iran-Contra, Oliver North, dope smuggling). Cynicism in a way excuses by expecting the dishonesty we get. Outrage fatigue sets in. We simply accept, become docile. And then another step is taken against us. Little by little. Like herding slow-moving sheep.

But back to the article at the link: here’s a passage from the article:

All of this, of course, is part of a bigger trend in the world of branding toward so-called transparency. Indeed, Google’s Ngram Viewer, which compiles usage rates of specific words and phrases found in millions of books, shows that occurrences of the word transparency have increased by around 200 percent between the mid-1980s to mid-2000s. This spike might be largely due to more talk of how big-name brands (and governments) are attempting to rectify tarnished images in the face of public pressure. “The Internet is giving consumers a lot of power, and there aren’t many secrets anymore,” Glen Urban, a professor of marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management, tells me. “If you look at the auto industry, for example, used cars used to be a haven for manipulation and consumer victimization, but when eBay started doing consumer ratings and guarantees and escrow payments, the used-car market cleaned up and became trustworthy. A lot of the used-car dealers on eBay are the same dealers that were untrustworthy before, but now they can’t be because they’d get no business. If you don’t have four or five stars, nobody’s going to buy a used car from you.”

A recent documentary titled The Naked Brand, produced by the ad agency Questus, argues the same point. Since countless blogs, comment sections, and Twitter accounts provide an abundance of information, companies are having a harder time keeping their once-private dealings private. Today, ordinary citizens have more access to what’s happening in the world than ever before, meaning corporations can either opt for transparency or crank up their opacity machines. One example of a company that’s chosen the former route is outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia with its “Footprint Chronicles,” a webpage that documents the company’s global supply chain for all to see.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2014 at 1:35 pm

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