They say advertising is dead. Consumers are heroes, controlling the content. And marketing is the mirror, reflecting their lives.
The trends for customer stories, real life, shared voice and user-generated content are giving us unprecedented levels of intimacy with consumers. The line between brand and consumer is blurring, as we climb inside people’s heads in a bid to make the relationship deeper, more emotional and direct.
As a copywriter, I have seen a seismic shift in client briefs. We are no longer speaking TO the customer; we are speaking ABOUT the customer. Clients want ‘authentic’, ‘stories’, ‘real life’. Our communications explore and celebrate what brands mean to people and the different ways that they affect their lives.
A few examples spring to mind:
Volkswagen, ‘It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them’
Expedia’s user-generated ‘Find Yours’
McDonald’s user-generated ‘We all made the Games’
Marketers are picking up their iPads and rushing to the post-advertising state, which shares a border with the realm of editorial. We are reporting, editing and interpreting what’s happening in the world. We are being collaborative, grounded and experiential, rather than dreaming up ideas in ivory towers.
Will the trend continue? Undoubtedly. Will it be all-conquering? Unlikely. Countertrends are as healthy as they are inevitable. While brands are learning lessons by connecting with their audiences and these audiences are connecting in communities of their own, we all have a yearning for fantasy and fiction.
Brands will always create dreams, share brand-driven concepts and build castles in the sky. And far from feeling disengaged and alienated, we will revel in the journey beyond the ordinary. In the unapologetically unreal. The truly extraordinary.