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Authenticity In Marketing - Faking It Ain’t Making It!

By Michael BealComments

Authenticity in marketing - faking it ain’t making it!

Sure, many of us have staged a photo, or been guilty of ‘doing it for the ‘Gram’, but there’s a line. And when you’re a brand, you need to be even more conscious of it.

Over the last couple of months we’ve seen some pretty interesting events spark real debate around authenticity in marketing.

I could’ve written this article straight away, but I wanted to let the dust settle and see how things played out. Now that everyone’s had their say, let’s take a closer look at what’s been trending in the world of brand authenticity. The good, the bad, and the downright cringe

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One campaign that took Instagram and Twitter by storm was Listerine’s partnership with scarlettlondon. If you’ve not yet seen it, you’re in for a treat. Check out the comments, she gets absolutely rinsed (pun intended) - admittedly some of them are horrendous, but some of them are hilarious. 

So, scarlettlondon is an influencer. Just in case you couldn’t fathom from the post, she was actually paid for this post. Holy shit! I know right.

Here it is:

Screenshot 2018-10-19 at 09.45.44

I’m not here to point out that those pancakes are actually tortillas. Or that the cup is empty. Or (my personal favourite), that she has a blanket with her own face on (she carries that much influence she even convinced herself to buy her own face-blanket!).

But just look at the comments. People absolutely detest how false and staged this is. Audiences are becoming more and more aware and averse to this type of content. It feels forced and fake, and is a prime example of why people are becoming more sceptical of brands, especially when it comes to influencer marketing.

If Listerine had stayed true to their audience they could have powered a campaign that made genuine, positive impact. Instead, we’re left with something that quite frankly feels cheap and underhanded.

I mean, who even keeps mouthwash in the bedroom?!

As the social influence economy grows (because where there’s attention, there’s marketing!) it’s going to become difficult to avoid shit like this. Hell, it already is.

The silver lining? The more of this we consume, the more we long for something that’s true. Something that’s honest. Something that’s genuine. And this is where authentic marketing can drive your strategy forward.


Sure, it’s easy for me to show you an example of someone not being authentic and point the finger, but what does authenticity look like?

The answer is, it can’t be shown. Authenticity is something you feel. An emotional connection manifests itself when brands stop trying to flog their wares and, instead, start to develop marketing content that both stays true to honest human values and strikes a chord with their audience.

A great example of this is Nike’s recent campaign with US sportstar Colin Kaepernick. You might not recognise the name, but you’ll probably have heard what he stood (or knelt) for.

Kaepernick refused to stand for the US national anthem during a football game in 2016, in protest against police brutality and racism. Other players joined him on one knee in what was one of the most high profile political statements of the 21st Century.  

It even led to Donald Trump spitting out his dummy (but he’s usually so rational? I hear you cry…).

When Nike announced they were teaming up with Kaepernick for the celebration of their 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” slogan, there was uproar.

People were filming themselves burning Nike trainers and calling for boycotts of the brand, with #JustBurnIt and #NikeBoycott initially trending. It didn’t seem to be going too well financially, as the share price dropped 3.2% on day one.

Market commentators belittled the campaign, and the marketing team at Nike, for what initially appeared to have been a bad move. Their team stayed strong, however, and released the advert as planned, knowing this was something they were in for the long run (pun alert... ).

Here's the advert...



Is it risky? Sure. But people want to know that their brands stand for something. It’s the only way to stay ahead and stay relevant.

The Nike team didn’t flinch, and were rewarded for it. In the days following the advert, Nike’s online product orders rose 32 percent and Nike shares recouped all their initial losses, gaining approximately $43million of media exposure in the process!

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I know what you’re thinking, “another article showing how big brands and big budgets are doing it, how is this applicable to me?”.

We’re a big fan of authenticity at SupaReal - it’s a heartbeat, not a palpitation. If something doesn’t feel genuine we call bullshit on it. So, here’s some tips on keeping it real for your B2B brand.

  • Find your why.

What does your business stand for? What’s its ultimate aim? What gets everyone out of bed in the morning? When is everyone at their happiest? At their best?

When you’ve found that, you’ve found your why.

  • ‘Fake it til you make it’ doesn’t apply here. 

We’re communicating with our audience on so many platforms and channels, digitally and in-person, it’s not just something marketing need to communicate, it’s got to be genuine and rooted in everyone across the firm. Unless you’re a real Keyser Soze, your audience’s bullshit radar will probably suss you out. And most likely call you out on it.

  • Stay true. And embrace the negatives. 

When times get tough, or in the wake of mistakes, genuinely authentic brands set themselves apart. Nobody is perfect, and people expect mistakes - throw your hand up and admit when you’ve dropped the ball.

Admitting that you’ve made a mistake and that you’re genuinely sorry reinforces authenticity and adds to your credibility. Trying to cover it up destroys all credibility you’ve spent years building up.

In a world where people are ‘living their best life’ on the ‘Gram, audiences are craving honesty and openness, a chance to look into someone’s imperfect life. A recent survey found that 30% of millennials have unfollowed brands based on content that isn't authentic.


We’re all fighting for attention - in a world where content is in abundance and attention is on the decline. Audiences aren’t looking for the Listerine-esque adverts, with perfectly framed and over-produced content, they want something that’s real.

In Stackla’s 2017 Consumer Content Report they found that more than half of consumers feel that user-generated content is the most authentic form of content. That’s three times more authentic than brand-created content.

Interested in user generated content? Check out Simon's blog on why B2B need to get involved with user generated content (UGC).

It’s not just impacting the way they feel about brands, but also the impact on their purchasing decisions - with 60% of consumers (rising to 70% for “Millennials”) saying social content from friends and family directly impacted their purchase decision.

This figure drops to 23% for celebrity influencer content.

Authenticity is even more essential for B2B brands, due to longer sales processes, meaning that brands must earn and then keep working to retain customers’ trust.

This can only be done by communicating with them consistently, authentically and honestly. Sure, some quick wins can be had through dubious techniques, but consider the damage you are doing to your brand’s credibility in the long-term.

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