While we have long been lambasting social media for its negative perceptions of perfection shoved unwillingly on its avid users, it seems that slowly but surely the tide is turning and social media is leading the way for more ‘real’ advertising campaigns.
Thanks to the growing awareness of authenticity and embracing the true you, brands are being called out for their one-size fits all marketing promotions that portray flawless models using products that are said to help keep that flawless complexion in all its wonderful perfection. However, where the brands are failing, social media is chalking up a win and is paving the way for more free-thinking campaigns that encourage users to no longer buy into the Insta-perfect lives often portrayed by influencers.
Free The Nipple* the no make-up movement, Project Body Hair and #freethepimple are just some of the real-talk campaigns abounding on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter et all.
So, I hear you ask, if social media is doing it – and we all know it’s the ad-location of choice to target the millennials and gen z’s – why are the larger companies failing to embrace the demand for authenticity in regular advertising streams? Fiona Ward from Refinery29.com spoke to Graham Ellis, cofounder of advertising company Habit Creative about why brands create the ads they do. He stated, “It’s one shot. To put it plainly, it needs to be as appealing as it can be to as many people as it can be, in one piece of content.”
That may be true, but a 2017 survey for business media magazine Campaign found that 47% of respondents prefer adverts featuring ordinary people, so they’d be wise to get on board. But, I can’t help but wonder, if brands do head where social media is pioneering in terms of authentic advertising campaigns, could they be inadvertently shooting themselves in the foot?
While consumers clearly want to see real people with real skin and real body hair and real boobs, is the ongoing subliminal message to love yourself as you are going to slowly but surely start to drive down skincare/razor/bra sales? Of course it wouldn’t happen overnight. However, as the trend develops and more and more consumers get on board with showcasing their skin in all its pimple-clad glory, surely that would equate to less demand for the products used to eradicate/cover up said pimple?
So how do the beauty/skincare/personal care giants straddle the two? How do they give consumers want they want in terms of authentic and genuine marketing adverts that showcase real people with positive body image, while also pushing forward with the sales of the products they’re trying to sell?
It’s a head scratcher. But one that marketers need to figure out and fast. The era of perfection is slowly but surely ebbing away, and the upsurge in consumers wanting to embrace all things natural, from their products to their advertising, is only gaining in momentum. It’s how the industry behemoths ride this momentum that will separate the wheat from the chaff.
* Even as a staunch feminist I’m so not down for this one by the way, especially post two breast-fed babies.