Thursday, 5 August 2010

Social Truth and Authenticity? When a product or brand's promise seems too good to be true

In the age of Photoshop, subtle imperfections seem to be lessened.  Our skin is fresh and blemish-free, our jawbones chiseled, cheekbones defined, and teeth shining bright. Even that last ten pounds around the waist evaporates with the swipe of a mouse!

Whether the mop that promises to make floors look ‘new’ with just one pass, or any number of products that claim and reinforce ‘perfection’ messaging - it’s the scenarios Martin Lindstrom identifies where, there’s “not even a hint of a single red spot, a stubborn stain, or a bedraggled mother”.  This is really the story of the past fifty years of advertising.  An industry developing messages that implied, portrayed, and promoted ‘perfect’ brands in ‘perfect’ environments.   Let’s face it - nobody likes canned laughter.

Did you ever wonder how consumers interpret these messages?  The simple answer is pooly.  Consumers are a lot savvier than most advertisers give them credit for.  According to test subjects monitored using fMRI, messages portraying perfection were not seen as trustworthy.  This is because consumers don’t ‘mirror’ themselves against such images, nor are they inspirational motivators.   

All attempts at portraying some otherworldly perfection seem to actually generate feelings of enormous distaste (and in some cases even horror) in the minds of consumers.  People related best to are those who we perceived shared our weaknesses - those who mirror, or at least seem capable of mirroring, the mistakes we tend to make. 

From the Simple Life to the Hills to YouTube, reality programming dominates our modern landscape.  Fueled by our desire for authenticity, Life has become the ultimate reality show.  More and more advertisers are beginning to recognize that consumers enjoy watching, and empathizing with, people just like them.  Why?  Simply because ads and commercials created by everyday people tend not to feature models, but rather normal looking people who resemble us.  It allows us to connect and identify with them more easily.  Moreover, average looking people seem more inviting, as if welcoming us to the brand. Real people suggest any authentic back-story.  

The one thing we know today?  If a brand’s claims seem too good to be true - they probably are.  What do you think?
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Goodbuzz creates social media campaigns that entice consumers to play, create, and share brand experiences. We focus on developing "branded utility" - moving away from interruptive 'push' models towards more meaningful ways of connecting.  From simple metrics to actionable insights that enable data-driven marketing decisions - Goodbuzz links social media efforts to business outcomes.  Visit Goodbuzz Inc.