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Authenticity in Marketing Just Got Fleeced


INFLUENCER: Prophecy Unlimited's James Ainsworth feels like reality has been losing its grip on what authenticity is or was

Authenticity in Marketing Just Got Fleeced

For the last year or so, the four phrases most often connected with ‘marketing’ have been authenticity, purpose, emotion and data. It seems that every brand or agency has been pulling on the one-armed bandit of campaignery to see which of these elements they need to dial up or down, or worse still, reverse engineer their creative to fit.

In the last few weeks I have felt like reality has been losing its grip on what authenticity is or was.

Ask yourself this, when did you see [British singer and presenter] Alesha Dixon as an erstwhile member of a sassy girl band trio? 

Or, when did you see Alesha Dixon appear in an N.E.R.D music video as the lap dancer of the same titled song?

Or, when did you see Alesha Dixon as a judge on a popular culture talent contest on mainstream prime-time TV?

When did you ever see Alesha Dixon knee deep in a peat bog or taking a row boat across Lake Windermere of a wet Bank Holiday getaway? And yet, the 'Alesha Dixon Edit for Regatta' is an actual thing. I’ve seen it on billboards. It’s all over their website and social. She has co-designed five coats for the gruelling winter ahead. 

Did the brand (or their agency) pick the last sorry lucky dip from the authenticity bucket or did they just straight up miss the point of what is genuine, believable and unquestionably a likely occurrence in this sodden amble on the scree slopes of some lesser trodden North York’s Moor we call real life? 

Picture the absurdity (Or go see for yourself) of trailing on Regatta social channels, three days out of launching the A.D range, without knowing if AD was a typo for [British gardener] Alan Titchmarsh or if AD meant [comedian] Alan Davies was getting back into the duffle coat game. 

And Regatta are by no means the only ones to get authenticity wrong and inextricably caught up in a misguided notion that a celebrity will deliver upon this authentic ambition AND get accelerated reach at the same time. 

Emma Willis is currently the authentic face of bedding for Dunelm. In the press release she said this: "It’s been so much fun designing my range for Dunelm."

Emma Willis also said: "I’ve always been a fan of the brand and have really enjoyed bringing my own style and inspirations to my range. I wanted to create a stylish range whilst knowing first-hand how important it is that the products are functional and affordable."

Louise Redknapp is the authentic face of sofas (but only bold ones) for Harvey’s Furniture.

"I wanted people to have a focal point in their living spaces that will be a conversation starter for guests, and BOLD by Louise really encapsulates this. Working with Harveys has exceeded my expectations: the collection is beautiful and I’m so proud of it – I’ve even got the Large Icon Sofa in my living room," said Louise in the press release about the BOLD by Louise range… 

Thankfully, someone else drew a better lot or just actually understands the core values that hang off authenticity and came up with a real doozy of a campaign, nay, a movement, that will keep on giving to those who wear it, those who desire it, those who designed it and those who identify with it. Step up and step out into the spotlight, Collusion X ASOS.

In recent weeks, ASOS launched a new clothing label for Gen-Z. The range is ethically sourced, animal-free, gender-fluid and caters for a greater number of sizes than most. As such, it has a clear focus on inclusion. And its conception had authenticity at the heart. Collusion was created in partnership with six young creatives including: a student, a stylist, an activist, an image-maker, an author, and a YouTuber – each with their own online influence and diverse following.

An appraisal of this campaign by Callum Joynes on shares the authentic highlight of the campaign: “The wide range of people and cultures shown throughout are what make this work stand out to me. This is less an attempt at showcasing diversity than accurate representation.”

And that’s just it. Collusion X Asos is believable. As a movement, you want to see more, you anticipate it’s next move, because it is genuine. It’s not just ambassadors or celebrities but clothes wearers and those likely to wear these types of clothes. Not laced with irony, not sticking out like a UK Garage singer in a 2.4 tog fleece but pure, unadulterated authenticity.

So next time you see a celebrity-fronted collaboration with a brand, just ask yourself if Alesha Dixon was something you thought you had a dream about one time or if Celeb X for Brand Y with their target audience of Z was the result of a Buzzfeed ‘Your Brand Ambassador Generator’ quiz. Ask yourself, is this plausible? Did Regatta really try to pass off Alesha Dixon over Kate Humble/Alan Titchmarsh/Ben Fogle as a more likely proverbial bed-fellow of a nice comfortable fleece because, I for one, fear that authenticity is dead and buried. But at least it’s snug. And Alesha Dixon got paid.

James Ainsworth, head of content at Prophecy Unlimited

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UNLIMITED, Fri, 16 Nov 2018 13:38:57 GMT