DDB, "Let’s Tell the Truth”


"I got a great gimmick. Let's tell the truth.” —N.M.Orhbach. Doyle Dane Bernbach was given this advice 22 years ago by our first client, and we still like it. It's a gimmick that has some fantastic advantages. In the first place you go to heaven. In the second place other people can't lay a glove on you. And in the third place, telling the truth is the best known way of moving merchandise. Of course, telling the truth isn't always easy. After the fact some of DDB's problems don't look so tough. But at the time, it took a lot of stamina to use our gimmick. Take that automobile we do the advertising for. Back in the beginning that car was strange looking creature. At least to Detroit-conditioned eyes. In fact, it looked like a beetle. So we called it a beetle. We sold cars. Or take that rental car company we called "number two.” That was practically un-American. The consumer wasn't supposed to be impressed unless you called yourself the biggest, or the fattest or the most important. Something. We took a chance on truth. We rented cars. We have a bank client who asked us to advertise mortgage loans. Instead of advertising low-cost mortgage loans we prepared a 1400 word, 240 line ad describing all of the terrible shocks and blows you are subjected to at a mortgage closing. That was doubly ridiculous in as much as nobody reads copy. Right? They read copy when you're telling them something. Not only did the bank's mortgage business shoot up, they were able to spread their name all over town because of some 100,000 reprint requests. Another word for truth is information. Supplying information to potential customers is where advertising started. And it is still the most important job. Done believably, memorably, entertainingly sometimes, but done. That's why at Doyle Dane Bernbach, we pay as much attention to print today as we ever did (including this ad). Print is neither "hot" nor "cold"? It's honest. Inherently. You're out there on the page, naked, without so much as a guitar. Just your product and the word. And you're out there with that ordinary man in the street, who turned into a consumerist skeptic and who has learned to spot a hedge three columns away. And with print he can take a long, slow, devastating look. We've got a confession to make. It's got nothing to do with heaven. People are as smart as we are. That's why we tell the truth.