Monday, 21 October 2013


One of the smartest men ever to work in advertising was Bill Bernbach. He said that the admission of a small fault would gain you trust that you were a truthful sort of person. Bill was praising the loophole, or rather the need to admit it and the benefit from doing so.

Truth of course is much in the news right now – the Police, Orchid View Care Home and the KPMG HS2 report on the zero sum effect of the project…apparently its loophole is it’ll damage the economy of places to which it isn’t going.

Today when everyone is counselled to whistleblow it’s disappointing that Lisa Martin who called in the police to Orchid View exposing a horror story has been unable to get a job since.

And if you want to succeed as a policeman watch other colleagues’ backs, smooth over the loopholes and play for the team. I’m not defending the Plebgate guilty, merely observing that they acted, all of them, true to their collegiate and Freemasonish culture.  Imagine a premier league striker stopping a game to confide in the referee that a team member had “dived deliberately” in the penalty area.

The likely consequence, I imagine, would be the whistleblowing footballer would be sent off by the irate referee, fired by his club and beaten up by his agent.

Truth, as Pontius Pilate discovered, is tricky stuff.

And again as we saw in the hostile interrogation of the HS2 CEO, Alison Munro by Gavin Esler regarding the failure to broadcast all the data in this recent report.

What the appalling Esler did is switch me (and I suspect others) from sceptic about HS2 to fervent supporter on the basis that if he can be so horrid he must be against it for bad reasons.

The perception of truth is about its presentation as well as facts.

In my imagination I see Esler interviewing Asa Briggs Candler, the marketing genius at the birth of today’s number two brand, Coca-Cola:

So does it contain traces of the banned substance cocaine?…do you refuse to answer?....Well what are the ingredients?...What do mean it’s secret?. …why are you hiding the truth?...and does it dissolve human teeth if they are left to soak in it for 24 hours?...come on answer…you will be judged by your silence.”

Coke is a winner and you Mr Esler will be judged by your manners.

Life is not neat and tidy. It is not a thing of perfection. There are loopholes.  And the desire to have a cut and dried, cast iron, irrefutable story is going to lead to being economical with the truth.

Remember what Bill Bernbach said and disarm your opponent with a small admission and keep smiling. On balance you’ll win more victories that way.

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