The number one complaint coming from Tinder users isn’t that they run out of matches or that it’s too hard to use. The number one complaint heard is that when they match and meet up with another user, they are not representative of what their profile showcased. Either they used an old photo, or hid the fact that they gained a little weight or lost a few teeth since their profile photo was taken. And this is a genuine complaint – it’s disappointing when people come to expect one thing and are presented with an entirely different reality.
It’s not authentic, not genuine and it slightly annoying. It’s no less annoying or inauthentic when marketers do it.
Many marketing campaigns fall victim to falling into the traditional realm of marketing, where the advertising and marketing draws within the lines of what’s comfortable. Products are promoted by showing beautiful people using the products in the most ideal fashion. No industry is more guilty of this than the beauty industry, but they are not the only culprit – sports commercials show the most chiseled physiques, car commercials show ‘traditional’ families and fast food commercials show tiny people eating large amounts of fried foods.
While traditional advertising may be a typical blueprint to follow, more people desire authenticity, and while it might seem like a risk, it can also be one with a large pay off.
In January of 2014, American Eagles lingerie line, Aerie, stopped using Photoshop to perfect their models. Instead, the marketing team chose to highlight the models as they naturally are – beautiful, stylish and real. The results were amazing for the brand, and by December 2015, Forbes reported that AERIE’s sales were up 21 per thanks to the authenticity of their campaign.
Aerie’s president, Jennifer Foyle, told Forbes that, “We really felt like girls today are just more independent than ever,” adding that “We just knew that it would really resonate with this generation.”
With profit as the best measure for success, Foyle was definitely right. This move has enabled Aerie be a contender in the intimates industry. Aerie’s executives are projecting huge growth for the company in the next five years. And it’s all thanks to authentic marketing.
The Dad Bod Ideal
There are other campaigns that utilize authentic feelings to appeal to their consumer base, celebrating their target audience as they are in real life. Dove Men’s advertising campaigns uses feeling of paternal love to effectively communicate their marketing message.
Their 2014 campaign, #RealDadMoments, shows a plethora of kids at different ages and in different situations all calling out for their fathers, for different reasons. The ad was welcomed by huge critical acclaim, with fathers and critics alike responding with positivity. AdWeek.com spoke to Doug French, a parenting blogger of Dad 2.0 who said, “There’s been a lot of judgments and tribalism in parenting circles about who is doing what wrong, so any positive message that supplants those ideas will resonate with this community.”
This campaign shows two things – the power of authentic marketing and that Dove has mastered it. Their campaigns targeting females are just as emotionally powerful as this one.
The reason behind the Real
The reason more and more people are responding to authentic marketing methods is because people want to be celebrated for their flaws and not ashamed of them. Let’s face it, we all have bad breath in the morning, fart at inopportune times and say stupid things when meeting our boyfriends’ parents for the first time. The more brands can celebrate that instead of projecting a false sense of reality, likely the more successful they will be.
In June 2014, The Guardian published a piece detailing why real people make for better campaigns. Their theory is that people react to powerful story telling, and the most powerful kind of stories are those that are relatable to a wide audience. The more relatable and ubiquitous the message, the more power it can hold.
Life isn’t like a Coca-Cola commercial, with beautiful young kids flirting coyly with each other before going to a rocking yet impromptu street party. Life is a chaotic mess that most of us are trying to get through the best way we can. And the ads that reflect and celebrate that make an impact.
Head Photo: Dan Cooper
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