Facts vs. Fiction: Are Consumers Deceived?

Fiction versus nonfiction. It’s how we label stories. But what about that gray area in between? The sliver of stories that is increasingly growing, particularly in the realm of content marketing and advertising. Brands and organizations tell stories to sell and promote their goods and services, but does it matter if they are real or not?

Sometimes.

Factual stories are great. They can tell a consumer how the company was founded. An example of this is the Johnnie Walker six-and-a-half minute video about how the whiskey company was founded.

Johnnie Walker — The Man Who Walked Around The World

This factual story is dramatized, obviously. Stories can still remain truthful even though they are dramatized. Stories like this are great for a brand to share as multimedia content. Consumers can see who this brand really is.

Sometimes falsified, or fictional stories, are better for the brand. From the same company, an example of a fictional story to sell their product was effective, and it was still a good piece of content.

Johnnie Walker — Dear Brother (2015)

Although it isn’t necessarily a true story, it is a great story and piece of content created for the purpose of selling their product.

Ethically, it may not always be right to tell fictional stories. The most used thing brands and organizations do is tell false stories about how their brand was started — this is unethical. It depends on the situation completely; the context of what type of story you are trying to tell matters.

The audience should be able to tell whether a story is factual or not, but it’s not always that simple. It’s not always critical for the audience to know if the story is factual or fictional, it just helps the audience understand the story better if they can.

The average consumer should recognize when a piece of content is dramatized. Something can be factual, but it can also be dramatized to better tell the story.

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