Honest Marketing Is the Future of Marketing

Nicole Sudjono

You don’t have to be Elon Musk to do this instead of rubbing people’s faces to convince people to buy your stuff

Source: Elon Musk’s Twitter.

We’ve all seen Ryan Reynolds’ ad that kept us hooked on his videos and had us sit through the entire one-minute-long ad.

And we’ve also seen how Elon Musk didn’t use any form of marketing to sell his tequilas and flamethrowers, and yet people are still willing to buy them.

While when we see ads on Youtube or Instagram, we tend to skip nearly everything and are not convinced to buy any of them. Influencers might help, but that alone isn’t enough to convince people to buy your products.

Why is that?

It’s not because Ryan Reynolds and Elon Musk are the most influential people on earth, even though they now are.

There are other influential people out there like Bill Gates, but he didn’t have the same power as them when he tried to convince people to get vaccinated. One look at Bill Gates’ YouTube and Instagram comment sections can pretty much sum up how people view him.

Bill Gates Interview with Ellen about the Pandemic he predicted back in 2015.

So what did Ryan Reynolds and Elon Musk do that made them so convincing that we are willing to open our wallets for the products they offer?

Remember, the point of marketing is to get people to remember your product and you.

In this article, I’m going to break down how people like them managed to get us hooked on their marketing without breaking a sweat and how you can use this method in a product you want to advertise.

1. The Power of Brutal Honesty

As the title is self-explanatory, brutal honesty is the best way to tell others about your product.

With this approach, the advertising feels honest, instead of sugar-coating the item, and waiting until the person gets the product and it’s half of what they expected. By being honest, you are not forcing someone to buy your product. There’s genuine empathy by doing this.

Their “why’s” aren’t like those cheesy ads you see every day: “Why you should buy this,” or “You should buy this....”. Fake gurus and obnoxious influencers do this a lot; that’s why it’s getting annoying to see them.

Honest marketing just goes right to the point, telling the true purpose of why they should buy it. Most have nothing to do with why the product is awesome, but by being downright truthful. This means they really get out of their professionalism for the sake of honesty.

And of course, you must have the courage to tell this much truth to the public.

For instance, remember the time Burger King told us to buy from McDonald's and their other competitors?

“We never thought we’d be asking you to do this, but restaurants employing thousands of staff really need your support at the moment.” — Burger King’s Tweet, 2020.

This ad immediately went viral after the post, and I’m sure you’ve seen this a lot on social media. Burger King and other restaurants have not released their sales update after this post, but it did win the hearts of many people online and was the trending topic of the week.

The post was self-deprecating, brutally honest, and genuine. It told nothing about the product but the reality behind it. They really stepped out of their professionalism in order to save the unemployed.

This may be a little unprofessional to do, but the responses from the people said otherwise, and I think it’s safe to say that they achieved their goal of earning money as well.

2. Self-Deprecating Is the Best Way to Connect

The best example of self-deprecating is Conan O’Brien. He always made fun of himself and didn’t care if he would look ridiculous so long as people laugh.

While some may think that self-deprecating jokes are a way to conceal someone’s insecurities, it’s actually doing the opposite. It’s a way to lift people up and have a laugh with you.

It’s why Conan’s travel shows and Clueless Gamer got more views than his interviews with celebrities — and are so memorable.

His technique of self-deprecation is used in honest marketing as well, where companies really go out of their way to tell the behind-the-scenes of the products.

An example of this is a game trailer called The Outer World 2. Last July, during the E3 conference, their trailer’s narrative had nothing to do with the storyline of the game. Instead, the narrator went literal on their game:

“Now, we see our hero, but only their silhouette, because the developers haven’t finished the design or finished the story.
Or finished any gameplay that’s actually ready to show. In fact, the only thing they have finished… is the title.”

Do you see how it has nothing to do with the game plot as most gameplay would do? They were making fun of their own developers, and while you may fear that people would diss them as well, the responses were the opposite instead.

No one was dissing the developers. Instead, they were praised for their honesty.

The response to this trailer was received positively. In fact, when I was watching the E3 press conference, where I’d usually skip to the games I’m not interested in, with Outer Worlds 2, I actually sat through the entire trailer and that became the most memorable game trailer I’ve ever watched.

3. Be Very Specific on the Honesty

If you noticed in the words of honest marketing, they were being literally specific in their advertisement. They literally describe everything to their specificity of the product to the point they can’t make up any BS.

And because of that, sometimes it becomes absurdly funny to the point that it’s memorable.

“It seems we may never know what 5G is, so we’re just going to give it away with every plan until we can figure that out” — Ryan Reynolds, 2020.

This 30-second ad got 3.8 million views and still counting. He was being truthful when he said he didn’t understand the technicality of it.

We as customers expect that the CEO should understand their own product, and we’d call them out if they don’t even understand their own. But in Ryan’s case, he flat out told us that he himself didn’t understand this and would give them out for free as some sort of “compensation.”

As you can see here, because it’s so technical, it’s hard to actually force words of positivity to the ad. Thus, making the ad funny and memorable.


I think the basic point is pretty much, be honest and humble. Sure, your product might not be the best in the world or you got other competitors up to your nose, but being straight-up honest is pretty much the best way to get people’s attention.

To recap the techniques of honest marketing, the best way is to:

  1. Be brutally honest
  2. Self-deprecating
  3. Be very specific to the point you can’t BS it

In a way, everything starts with you. Are you willing to embody all those traits? To be down-to-earth, humble, and genuine to the marketing instead of telling how great your product is.

Are you willing to be this truthful and honest about your product? Because it’s really self-deprecating, which is rare to see nowadays. But when we do see one, it’s a rare gem.

Hope you learn something here!

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