The Bullshit-O-Meter

Trigger Movement - A Bullshit Meter

We have created our very own modern trust culture.

This trust culture relates to the way in which people want to associate themselves with brands, organisations, charities, politicians. It is no longer good enough for businesses to provide a product or service to the public. Buying into an ethos surrounding a brand and its’ beliefs is now a very evident aspect to our culture. I believe this has created a Bullshit-O-Meter.

Trigger Movement - Guinness advertisement sign in a pub
Old Guinness advertisement I saw in a pub in Dublin

Quite simply, what I mean by this is that nowadays people are more willing to call bullshit on brand claims.

In years gone by, in the times of Mad Men and no internet, brands could make claims they didn’t need to back up because there would be little or no repercussions. There were many ‘interesting’ claims and advertisements, like the one above.

Agencies will continue to move away from the ‘hard sell’ approach to advertising. Consumers bring an emotional perspective to brand preference, meaning that they buy what they relate to, like and trust.

Karen Zuckerman CCO, president and cofounder

But now, we live in a time where the internet gives us access to a world of information, with social networks giving people the opportunity to share and discuss. With that in mind, it is apparent that social media is also giving ‘spoofers’ the opportunity to spread misinformation or as the small-handed man himself would put it “FAKE NEWS”! And we all know how things have turned out there.

With this in mind, trust is clearly something people hold dearly. Consumers are asking, can I trust, and do I want your company to be associated with me when consistently using a product or service? Uber and Under Armour are two of the brands who have come under the microscope in recent times for controversies that don’t involve their products. It has nothing to do with varying in standards of service or performance, but rather their organisational actions.

These organisational actions are now impacting the bottom line.

Uber has recently been in the media over several high profile issues. They have lost a huge number of senior staff due to ‘differences in beliefs’; they are in a lawsuit with Waymo; the CEO had an outburst at an Uber driver become public and a former employee opened up about her time in the company, having had repeated problems with sexism. The long term impact remains to be seen but the immediate impact is evident in the #DeleteUber campaign resulting in Uber losing a huge amount of users to competitors such as Lyft. (See below)


Under Armour also came under pressure when CEO, Kevin Plank, advertised his views on the US presidential election result in the Baltimore Sun. Athletes associated with the brand quickly spoke out stating that they didn’t want to be associated with any support for Donald Trump. In an equally quick response the CEO quickly stated that the perception of this advert was not the intended result. However, in a time where we are scrolling through, headlines are often the most read aspect of an article. Was the damage already done or will this be ignored, and go down as a single misdemeanour, unlike Uber’s multiple ‘offences’?

The Bullshit-O-Metre is shaping the way content-creators, athletes and consumers associate with a brand. For example, Casey Neistat is one of the world’s most popular YouTubers. Whenever discussing a brand or product he lets his audience know whether he is associated with that brand. This is in addition, to him building a trusting relationship with his audience, through regular, authentic content over months and years, that allows him this freedom. For example, his investment in Boosted Boards isn’t just as a avid user but he is also an advisor to the company. For this reason he takes himself out of the firing line for anyone looking to pick holes in product placement for videos. When he discusses Canon or Sony cameras he often explains how they are not product endorsements, while his use of a Samsung phone (more prominent in his recent videos) would be clear from his partnership with them, also stated by him in videos.

He is transparent, if nothing else. In the trust culture, it does not affect the partnerships with individuals like Casey Neistat, as people are buying into him and the brand he has created around himself. His personal brand has become effectively a quality assurance sign. In other words, ‘if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me… I don’t care if they are paying him.’ People trust Casey Neistat and therefore trust the brand’s associated with him.

From this trust people are more likely to take action, so for brands when they achieve this, is where they reap the rewards. Taking the time to build trust, provide value, and fill a need in someone’s life can be done in a million and one different ways but figuring that sweet-spot out is where modern brands are going to find longevity and success.

Real trust (even in our modern culture) doesn’t always come from divulging, from providing more transparency, but from the actions that people take (or that we think they take) before our eyes. It comes from people who show up before they have to, who help us when they think no one is watching. It comes from people and organizations that play a role that we need them to play.

Seth Godin — Author

In my opinion, if you have an interest in marketing you really should follow Seth as he has some phenomenal insights.

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