The Case for Authenticity

By: Randy Warner, Copywriter

In a time when the truth is a scarce product, selling products and services from a place of authenticity is a good place to start.

Think of the media landscape as the stream from a fire hydrant. Inside of it are most of the messages that you’re used to hearing from brands. Bold proclamations that this hand cream will make you look ten years younger or that this cologne is the cologne of fancy people everywhere and if you fail to purchase this very fancy cologne, sorry. You simply aren’t fancy.

The problem isn’t even that these claims are bogus, which they might be. It’s that they do nothing to stand out from the mainstream. As consumers, we learn to tune out a lot of the messaging that comes our way. It’s a way to get through the 5,000 ads that the average American is exposed to daily. People might be hearing your advertising, but choosing not to listen to it, because it sounds like everything else.

One of the easiest ways to stand out is by being authentic.

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The ad that kicked off the creative revolution in advertising did this. The “Lemon Ad” by VW starts off by admitting that some of their cars would make it down the assembly line with an issue worth recalling. That was an entry point to speak about how meticulous they are when inspecting their cars, removing the lemons before they leave the factory.

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RXBar is authentic. Their “No B.S” campaign is all about telling it like it is. The main feature of their label is the ingredients, all three of them. And in one of the commercials, spokesman Ice T appears on-screen and announces, “Hi. I’m famous. And this is a commercial.” It sends the message that all they care about is the quality of their product.

Here’s the inauthentic version of this campaign, which thankfully doesn’t exist.

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Happy ukulele-wielding millennials drive through a state park with the windows down on their vintage car - air dances through their perfectly quaffed hair. One of them laughs as he takes a picture on his “oh so cool” analog camera. What’s the picture of? It’s his friend - biting into a delicious RXBar. A done-to-death voiceover tells you that the simple life is the life worth chasing and how, if you think about it, you only need a few things to be happy.

Make it stop. Make it stop. I’m going to be sick.

This is pandertising. It’s not authentic. It’s not really creative. It’s just a hodgepodge of things associated with millennials. And it’s not going to stand out, because brands do it all the time. You could swap the energy bars out and have a spot about artisanal flip flops if you wanted.

If you really want to get the most out of your creative, just be authentic with it.