If you haven’t heard of “goodvertising”, you may be one of the lucky ones. Goodvertising was formally created only a few years ago when there was a rash of bad PR for the advertising and marketing community. It has been mentioned by and written about by some of AdLand’s greats, like Alex Bogusky, and former Havas chief David Jones.

Them, and marketing professionals like them, believe that professionals should be using advertising to improve the lives of people by engaging in activities that are good for society, good for the environment, and ultimately good for the customer.

This concept would indeed bring “truth in advertising” into real terms. How exciting! Surely consumers would enjoy this new and noble efforts to stop relying on activities with large carbon footprints, and to cease in advertising products that are detrimental to the health of consumers, like sugary and fatty products, and services that only shorten lifespans rather than lengthen.

Why isn’t this mainstream now? Why aren’t marketing and agency professionals clamoring for GOODvertising?

Quite frankly, in the economic environment we find ourselves in, goodvertising is not seen as profitable.

Let’s take an example with fictitious company Sonny’s Sodas.

Sonny’s Sodas and its marketing team decided to double-down and apply the goodvertising approach to its business. Instead of applying the concept across all its product lines, it is going to start with one to see how it goes. It’s flagship drink, Sonny Sips, is the test product. After several meetings, the company quickly sees that in order to do it right, they have to change a considerable amount:

  • Sonny Sips has 36 grams of sugar in it, 12 grams of sugar over the recommended daily allotment for the consumers. In order to care for the health of consumers, they agree to cut the amount of sugar in half.
  • Sonny Sips uses plastic for its bottles because of the low costs and quick turnaround. Knowing that some plastic can contain chemicals harmful to consumers, Sonny switches to glass and aluminum only.
  • Sonny Sips looks at its distribution channels, and sees that in some lower-income areas, there are no healthier alternatives for families to buy, so they consume more of its products than juice, water, milk and other beverages. Sonny considers creating a low-cost health drink to distribute in those areas, or to leave those areas altogether.
  • Sonny’s Sodas advertises from 8am-5pm Monday- Friday on several networks. From reading the latest research, Sonny knows that children seeing soda commercials makes them more likely to crave and consume. The team changes its media calendar and marketing strategy to target those 16 and older.
  • Sonny changed its messaging as well. Now in print and social media, Sonny advises the public to only have one of its products in a sitting to maximize health benefits.

Now, when we examine all the changes that Sonny’s Sodas and its marketing team made, they really embraced the goodvertising approach. But, will consumers embrace the change? Humans are naturally attracted to sweeter things, how would they react to the cut down of sugar? With all the production and distribution changes, reason would argue that a price increase would be necessary in order for Sonny to maintain a positive revenue. Would consumers see all the changes and accept the increase in price? Would consumers adapt with the changes of Sonny’s Sodas, because they realize that the company is doing it to make their lives easier?

Since we’ve seen very few brands adopt this philosophy, brands believe that consumers wouldn’t adapt.

And it’s hard to disagree.

In the battle of cost and convenience versus value and future benefits, the “now” incentive wins.

But all is not lost. There are pockets of industry that do hold on to this notion that good products and good advertising is worth the cost. And those consumers who flock to those brands are loyal to them because they dig the concept.

We would love to see goodvertising go mainstream, but it is not going to happen anytime soon.