Over the last several years, we seem to be focusing more and more on reality for our entertainment. From Survivor to The Real Housewives to Big Brother… apparently voyeurism sells very well. The same trend has also been cropping up over the years in advertising.
The Dove campaign for real beauty was highly successful and original when it first launched in 2004. Since then, we’ve seen many more advertisers following suit using people who appear to be appreciating products in real-life (even if in actuality they may be paid actors). Febreze has filmed people smell testing their products in a variety of disgusting situations since 2011. And in 2013, a Pepsi commercial that received a great deal of attention was one created from a test driving prank at a dealership with Jeff Gordon.
Perhaps this new fascination with reality is in part because we are so interconnected
…through the media, Internet, cell phones – whenever anything of significance happens, we hear about it almost instantaneously. And with the rise of social media, people photographing and posting “selfies” with their favourite things is now very commonplace and popular. It’s also putting a shelf-life on our celebrities who may or may not be able to maintain the images they would like too – which may make using “real” people as spokespersons a safer bet in the long-run.
When one of our athletes wins a medal at the Olympics, there’s an app to give us the download. When Justin Bieber is behaving badly, the Internet erupts with the play-by-play. And whenever Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to make his next ethical or political blunder, you can be sure we will all have front-row seats to that action. Once an unfortunate incident has reached Twitter or YouTube proportions, “handling” public perception afterward becomes quite difficult – even with a crisis preparedness plan.
Consumers these days are also far more savvy than once upon a time and not as willing to accept things at face value – they want the dirt and are willing to dig for it. Whether that means getting the latest star gossip, uncovering a government scandal, or wanting to know whether everyday products are organic or eco friendly, truth in life and advertising is what everyone is looking for. What this means for marketers is that branding claims – and spokespeople – better hold up to scrutiny, or the likelihood of uncomfortable revelations is good.