The Truth about Fiction
Transparency in the business world is a double-edged sword, which by design cuts both ways.
Though full transparency is a myth, it nonetheless goes a long way to instilling trust in an organisation and brand thereby lending those added values while ensuring healthy and continued growth.
Back in 2009, Harvard’s David Weinberger provided a mantra for ethical dealings declaring that “transparency is the new objectivity,” and concluded that, “objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. And then foolishness.”
And in an age where accountability is expected, lesser things can be kept secret. So, fighting that wave does seem foolish if not absurd. Then again, when it comes to the Arab world plenty remains ‘shrouded’ in mystery.
The line between ‘reporting’ and ‘opinion’ may be somewhat blurry when writing about certain topics, which is understandable and open for debate. However, what is unacceptable is employing a similar approach to reporting facts and figures.
Despite the fact that ‘numbers don’t lie’, at least in theory, those, which are fabricated do tell deceitful truths. And if this were a magic show, then the shoe definitely fits! The problem is not only specific to the region, but rather is a global one. Case in point is the recent ‘argument’ between the two biggest trade groups in the advertising world who cannot agree on how the American industry should deal with mounting controversy over transparency in the ad business. The issue was raised after former Mediacom CEO Jon Mandel explained that “…media rebates are widespread in the advertising industry.”
And when it comes to reported annual expenditure figures of regional media, the contradictions scream loudest. According to Ipsos, advertising expenditures in MENA were down, though there were exceptions such as Lebanon whose market grew by four percent.
The report published in this issue, based on the official rate cards, emphasises the fact that the numbers are very inflated.
What is also mindboggling is that in most of the markets, including those that have declining expenditures, the number of ads increased meaning that these outlets are offering more for less with the clients benefiting most.
Many words come to mind when trying to describe this ‘scandalous’ reality and it truly is a shame how ad agencies and TV stations, over years and in some cases decades, spent a fortune to capitalise on their brand name only to later sell it for pennies.
Guess very little, if anything at all, remains of value in this country, driving the question, how low can one get when walking with head held high?!