The Critical Role of Authenticity in Brand Sponsored Content
Just the other day LA advertising gun Miry Whitehill and I were swapping thoughts on a new content-based social media campaign for Levis.
What a huge project, with a nice, soft brand ownership from Levis, but something just wasn’t quite striking the right note for me.
The Brand Design/Brand Content/Social Interaction space is a really interesting place right now. Vanguard brands looking for ways to integrate their messaging into content that is sought and valued are all over this space at the moment. What I found interesting with the Levis ad was as I was watching the video there was something that wasn’t quite ringing with authenticity – something that felt slightly produced. When I watched the ‘Making-of’ clip it became obvious that the focus of the ad was on the production technique to illustrate a sense of ‘walking across America’ rather than the act itself (the guy didn’t actually walk across America).
And it struck me right there that the thing about brand sponsored content – the main game about for all content, but especially that sponsored by brand – is authenticity.
As a result of so many people around the world doing seriously cool things and putting them into social circulation, the bar has been raised . Our expectation level of ‘cool’ is at a high-point, and viral that doesn’t live-up to that falls kind-of flat – even more-so if it’s brand sponsored. We don’t mind watching something half lame from a guy in Uzbekistan, but tell us that it’s sponsored by a big brand and we become far more critical. Here’s a genuine example of authentic cool:
Even though the guy fails on his challenge he succeeds with bucket-loads of authenticity. What a missed opportunity for a brand like Gillette to jump in for sponsorship and positive brand association.
We just published a blog about a creative collaboration between a shoe brand, shoe designer, shoe retailer and a bunch of influential style and fashion bloggers. This is an example of a brand leveraging both the authenticity of the experience (they didn’t just ship the designers and bloggers to a location for the video and have them put their names to a series of shoes that had already been created) to create some rich brand storytelling.
So the message for brands looking to engage, create or connect with on-line content with brand experiences through social media:
01. Build your social cyclone from a starting point of authenticity – keep it real (Authenticity).
02. Ensure there’s a strong connect of relevance between your brand proposition and the story-telling of the content (Relevance).
03. Stand back and let the content run the show – don’t turn it into an on-line ad campaign (Association).
Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
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Designer of Brands with Authenticity