Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Problem With Lying



I'm attending some important research groups on Monday night... and feeling a little worried about them.

Why? Because people often lie.

In the polls, about 33% of people said they would vote Conservative. In last week's UK general election, about 37% did so. In other words, 4% of people simply lied.

Of course, some people think we lie.

The latest annual study conducted by research firm Roy Morgan into the perceived honesty of different professions has placed advertising in 29th place out of 30. Only car salesmen ranked lower.

I've written before about the irony that advertisers are perceived as dishonest, when the truth is that we don't lie to people, it's the people who lie to us.

The great strategist Russell Davies, on leaving advertising, famously described what he wouldn't miss: "Endless focus groups with company car drivers - constantly lying about why they drove the car they did."

He's so right. No one is going to admit in a research group that they drive a certain car because they want people to think they are rich, or successful, or sexy. But surely those motivations are in there.

And I'll never forget an interview that artists Jake and Dinos Chapman gave to GQ magazine. When shown examples of the brothers' work (similar to the picture above right) a selection of GQ readers unanimously claimed that they didn't like their art, because it was "ugly."

The Chapman brothers' response? "They're lying." The brothers reckoned that the real reason the GQ readers didn't like the art was because "they were turned on", and knew it would be socially unacceptable to say so.

Until neuromarketing research works properly, and we can actually see inside people's brains and discover what they are really thinking, rather than what they say they are thinking, we should continue to be suspicious of what people say. Very suspicious.

9 comments:

Pants on fire said...

Not only do people lie, but researchers ask them to.
I have friends and family who take part in research groups purely for the cash in hand. Which is quite generous for eating sandwiches and giving your opinion on something you don't actually care about.
Problem with it is, the research company will call and say "we're doing research for dog food, you have a dog don't you?" Um no. "yes you do... we'll see you at 12.30 on Tuesday."
And this is how our ideas live and die. Sobering thought really.
Back to this dog food brief.

Groucho said...

@Pants on fire of course people lie but a good qual researcher should be able to spot it. Just as they can spot the trick of inferring ALL from SOME, which is, ironically, a lie in itself.

Shameful said...

Nothing riles me more than to see my work appearing in the books of others.
There's where lying ends and fraud begins.
Does doing a web banner of a core idea not conceived by you allow you to put the entire case study on your personal website?
Does being the chief creative officer when the work was entered and not while it was created under the watch of your predecessor allow one to claim that the works was yours?
Talent is commodity in our business.
Character and principles? That's the rarest of qualities.

Pedalling said...

The scariest liars are the most articulate ones. Attended a training session where the speaker, a regional planner, insidiously planted claims that he did [name of ad redacted by Scamp]. In not making an outright lie, in the minds of listeners who didn't know any better, they thought that [name of ad redacted again] was his idea.

Pic on the right said...

Is that... Is that what I think it is?

Scamp said...

Come on. It's art.

Anonymous said...

Rory Sutherland had it right:

"The parts of the brain that talk are not the same as the parts of the brain that decide."

Calling it lying is overstating it.

Scamp said...

Great line. He's a smart fella, young Rory.

Anonymous said...

"Thinking fast and slow" tells people why the reasons people think they have for thinking something, is actually all wrong.