Why consumers today love a large dose of reality in campaigns

Evolution of Consumers

Consumers are constantly reacting to the world around them.

In 2011, amongst the backdrop of terrorism, the Greek financial crash and Occupy Wall Street, fantasy movies soared in popularity. 

This movie genre racked in more box-office tickets than any other. 

Many behavioural psychologists attributed the popularity of the genre to a need for the consumer to escape, even momentarily, a world not their own.

In 2017, as a result of Blue Planet, awareness around our plastic problem skyrocketed, prompting shoppers to demand brands do more to tackle the problem.

In 2019, consumers are experiencing a world filled with fakery; a cloak-and-dagger approach to British and European politics, a filtered world of social media, magazine covers and fake news – the reaction? 

Consumers who now, more than ever, crave the 'real'.

Honest Connections

The 'pratfall' marketing technique isn’t new, but its use now is having great success because people connect with people. 

Accepting your flaws and imperfections is an undeniable human trait that generates a positive emotional reaction.

Acknowledging failings or weaknesses creates honesty. And that generates believability

Think “Good things come to those who wait”, “Reassuringly expensive” and “Naughty but nice” as classic examples.

Human Campaigns

Brands and marketing teams are acknowledging this and reacting in the only way possible – by being more human. More real. 

The brands, campaigns and ideas that have really caught my attention this year all seem to fall in this category.

In February, for this year’s Super Bowl ad, Amazon created a whole creative dedicated to the fails of the Alexa R&D process.

In the same month, the Golden Arches caused nationwide debate by adding bacon to the Big Mac. It knew it might not be able to call it a Big Mac anymore, so it let the nation decide.

In 2017, the Swedish Dairy Association didn’t take too kindly to Oatly’s packaging which featured the line “Milk but for Humans” and promptly sued Oatly. It was banned from using that line in its marketing in Sweden. But not in the UK, where the lawsuit was used as a badge of honour, a demonstration that the product it had was worth fighting for.

And if you want a daily dose of pratfall community management at its best, head straight to the Hans drinker Facebook page – the budget hotel chain in Amsterdam famed for celebrating its weaknesses since its inception in 1996.

Unsurprisingly, these companies have each reported growth, validation that this approach can also have a positive financial effect too.

Celebrate Imperfections

For companies looking to change their brand narrative, re-engage an audience group or improve consideration – take inspiration from brands who celebrate their imperfections.

Be brave in celebrating what you are not. 

Believe that a weakness can be creatively turned into a strength. 

The public not only need it, they’ll love you for it.