Changing the world through advertising

What would happen if we started creating adverts that are more responsible and more transparent? On one side, of course, those ads wouldn’t make us dream as much anymore. But they would have one true merit: to inform us.  Nancy Delhalle, CMO of Serviceplan and founder of the start-up Mopets, shares her thoughts about the power of informative advertising and the role all brands will play in this change…

Deep dive

Why no one likes ads anymore

In the 20th century, marketing was built on three principles: lies, secrets and control. The consequences of this propaganda are that consumers lost all the trust they had in brands and that they have come to hate adverts. According to the Meaningful Brands study by Havas, 77% of brands could disappear with general indifference, a number apparently on the rise.

And marketers are trying to forget this evidence. The consumers are skeptical when it comes to ads - and will try blocking them when they can - and because of the internet, there can be no secrecy or control anymore. Especially now that word to mouth has increased immensely with the creation of blogs and social media.

So, we marketers have trapped ourselves in a world filled with personas of perfect clients, buying journeys, KPIs and technology of every kind. In this world, we are denying the most important elements in business: human relationships and emotions.

Changing the way we advice

Changing the way we advertise is all good and well, but that change can only start with the brands. Every company should practice more transparency and humility, which is possible when they admit their limits, their difficulties and when they don’t set ambitions for 2050… The main goal of a company shouldn’t be to make us dream anymore, but to lead us to an informed consent. Especially amid today’s abundance of information.

Although we were convinced for a long time that brands wouldn’t save the world, we’re starting to understand: they actually helped greatly in damaging it.  The outcome? A general decrease in trust.
It’s not all on the brands, though. According to the Green Index, consumers in Canada, the USA, Germany, Japan and China had less sustainable behaviours in 2014 than in 2012. One of the reasons for this is that we’ve assimilated greatly what we’ve been taught. So, whenever a brand decides to change its behaviour to be more eco-friendly, we’re annoyed by it. As a consumer, we’re aware of the environmental issues, but we’re not prepared to change our habits.

Of course, there’s also a financial reality: the end of a month is concreter than the end of the world. A lot of people are struggling financially, and it’s not easy for them to pay more for bio, local, or recycled products.  Because in the end, we’re asked to rethink our entire way of consuming.

How to change our behaviour

In the face of urgency, we all have to act together for change. And brands should lead this change. Through their actions, but also through their way of communicating.

How?  By rethinking the three pillars of marketing:

In short, consumers are asking for a more equal and humble relationship. They don’t need any heroic brands; they need brands who say what they do, and who do what they say.

Change is coming

It’s by talking, showing and repeating that the mass will change its behaviour. One certainty is that change is coming: we’re not communicating anymore, we’re informing. Instead of spreading washed-out messages that people are having a hard time accepting, we want to give the means to an informed consent. The path in front of us seems promising and seems to be able to unite those responsible brands and those brands that are fervent defenders of capitalism.

Nancy Delhalle is the founder and CEO of Mopets, an online community for pet lovers

Twelve years ago, after a long career on the advertiser’ side, she and her husband Peter founded their advertising agency, which they shortly after sold to a German company and became Serviceplan. Today, she serves as the company’s CMO alongside Peter, who is Managing Partner of the firm. Every few months, Nancy hosts unMISSable, a series of events centered around the private experiences of businesswomen. Nancy and Peter have two daughters and spend their time between Brussels and Barcelona.

Serviceplan is present in 32 countries, with more than 4,500 employees, and currently has the trust of clients such as BMW/Mini, L’Oréal, Shell, WW (Weight Watchers), … Check us out at

Mopets is an online community connecting pet lovers everywhere. Check us out at

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