Integrity

I returned last night from attending “The International Congress of Esthetics and Spa”–a spa convention in Philadelphia.  It was the second such show I’ve attended on behalf of the anti-aging skin care brand I helped launch, Biobliss.  The products and claims made by manufacturers who sell their products at these spa show continue to amaze me.  Case in point, our booth neighbor featuring a Swiss-made body contour outfit that once drenched in their special fluid reduces your figure by 2 sizes in one month–no other diet or exercise required.  Really?

Or what about the Hungarian Blueberry Soy Night Cream, Yam and Pumpkin Enzyme Peel, or best of all their Garlic and Tomato Masque?  Are there really women who want to rub Garlic and Tomato on their face?

All of these spurious claims made me think about a campaign I once worked on for NEC.  This was a reseller directed campaign built on the theme “You can’t manufacture integrity, but you can sell it.”  What we meant to communicate was the idea that if a company–NEC–manufactured high quality products, made legitimate and honest claims, had fair pricing, and a consultative, helpful sales approach, that would constitute a process founded on integrity.  We believed at the time that NEC had such a process in place.

Is there integrity in skin care marketing.  Limited at best.  This is partly due to the never-ending pursuit of the fountain of youth.  Few of us want to age gracefully.  Our culture doesn’t support the idea of ageless beauty.  There are many truly beautiful women who reject that, ultimately hopeless, objective–women like Judy Collins who is as lovely at 70 as at 20.

Integrity also goes deeper in a company’s culture.  It’s based on the promises it keeps, not only with its customers, but with its employees, too. A company that doesn’t honor its commitments is dishonorable.  Contracts, agreements, even strong verbal commitments, have to be fulfilled–not ignored or violated.  When the latter is the case, the entire company is diminished.  The best people simply won’t want to work there.  And that culture of not honoring its personal commitments will permeate other parts of the company.

I don’t think maintaining integrity is too optimistic a goal.

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  1. Integrity is one of the most influential themes that defines me personally. I constantly get into sometimes heated altercations with executives who want to blog (but have an agency or communications colleague do it for them). Blogging is PERSONAL, and the expectation is that it is written by the author. It is incredible how early, with which small transgressions we are willing to bend truth and sacrifice our integrity…but perhaps authenticity is not a something these executives value. That is a scary thought at best. People generally value those who shave values. It makes sense as well, as altruistic behaviour has been encouraged from an evolutionary perspective and people have been tested to remember cheaters faces better than their decent, reciprocating counterparts.

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