Flash Your Dirty Underwear!

In a time of fake news and alternative truths, transparency may be your best defense.


Once upon a time, companies had control over their brand communication – served up in perfect bite-sizes and full compliance with the positioning statement. Now, brands are built up and broken down in a turbulent online universe at the mercy of users and media. The most popular brands are always in direct line of fire, if they slip-up or make the slightest misstep.

Bad news has a tendency to surface, and the harder you try to cover it up, the bigger the risk of exploding in your face. Exaggeration promotes understanding and indignation is splendid click-bait. Especially, if it has to do with popular issues, like pollution, child labour and tax fraud..

Everybody will share their good news, while keeping the messy blunders to themselves. That’s understandable, but maybe not wise. It is positive that the telephone company, 3, comes forward and admits a hacker attack, even if they hadn’t known the full ramifications yet. It shows good intentions and makes us confident, that they will handle the situation. If you have a real stinker, it’s better to air it out than holding your breath. By going public at an early stage, you can stop the ball from rolling, gaining the upper hand to control the process, counterbalance critism and reduce misinterpretations. And when you out yourself, scandals are never quite as sensational.

Can transparency prevent shitstorms and restore a tainted image? Taking responsibility is sympathetic and confidence inspiring, and certainly both Nordea (Panama papers) and VW (emissions) would have been better off, if their executives had stepped up instead of sticking their heads in the sand.