Professional Integrity

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
The word integrity as defined by Websters Dictionary is as follows:

     "...adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty."

The notion of a entity, individual or corporate, displaying attributes of honesty or morality should be the expectation and not an exception to the rule.  For the purpose of limiting the scope of this blog post I will refer to integrity only as it pertains to advertising.

I've always respected companies who flourish with minimal amounts of advertising.  In theory if a company is offering a product or service that is worth the hard-earned money of their target audience, then that product or service should essentially sell itself.  A perfect example of this has been the wildly successful Nest thermostat.  With essentially no traditional advertising in an sort of media channel, Nest has managed to win countless design and consumer awards.

This wildly successful product appeared out of virtually nowhere. However, based on the fact alone that it was terrific, the product has experienced amazing sales.  Those earnings have come at the expense of Honeywell, who has been content to overcharge consumers for sub-par products for the better part of the best several decades.

Now I understand companies at a larger scale are required to advertise to some extent for any number of reasons.  Perhaps their market penetration has become so great they need to seek customers via new outlets.  Or perhaps they are so entrenched in the subconscious of consumers worldwide that they are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money to reinforce their brands identity.

When I think of the later category of marketing, the obvious examples that come to mind are Coke and Pepsi.  Between the two of them, they control the worldwide consumption of soft-drinks hands down.  Be that as it may, Pepsi is looking to spend an additional $579 million dollars advertising its products in 2012.  That's an additional $579 million over the $1.01 billion it spent on advertising in 2011.

Before continuing, I think it's important to reinforce that I'm not arguing against advertising in general.  I understand it's a fundamental driver in the global economy, and I understand the purpose it serves.  What I do not understand, and what I find incredibly distasteful as a consumer, is when large companies specifically target one another in their advertising campaigns.  In Pepsi's superbowl commercial, they took up their old standby of cheap jabs at Coke.  Coke never takes the bait on these cheap ads and I respect them all the more for that.  Coke may go so far as to make fun of themselves, but they are still taking the moral high ground here.

The technology comparison is obvious.  Microsoft and Google.  Google has traditionally scorned advertising of any kind.  This notion is changing with award winning advertisements like Dear Sophie, but you can't help but admit there is a still a certain amount of class involved.  Adversely, Microsoft seems to jump at every opportunity to attack their competitors as opposed to actually advertising their own products and services.

When Google announced updates to its Privacy Policy that increased end user transparency, Microsoft used this as an opportunity to publish half-truths and outright lies, despite having near identical Privacy Policies themselves.  Even more recently, Microsoft launched their Googlighting campaign which paints Google services as unreliable.  This in light of the fact that influential companies are increasingly dumping Microsoft in favor of Google's online offerings.  I think the nearly 7,000 dislikes on this particular ad's youtube page are a testament to the fact that consumers find this type of advertising distasteful and tactless.  If Microsoft is truly serious about garnering the respect of its consumers, then why not just advertise their own products honestly and let the products speak for themselves?

There was a time when I counted myself a fan of Microsoft and its services.  I owned a freaking Zune for pete sakes!  Yet to see a company this large acting in a manner akin to a 5-year old throwing mud on the playground, I'm not sure whether it is more appropriate be feel embarrassed or sad on their behalf.

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.