Authenticity in advertising

“Authenticity in advertising”, it’s a term you can’t avoid these days. It’s been filtering out from the background with every search on Google for “social media marketing”, to “advertising”, and it’s something you shouldn’t ignore!

Let’s wind back a second! Anyone remember when the episode of The Simpsons TM where Homer found his long lost brother who then asks him to design the everyman car. It turns out to be a tragic, yet hilarious monstrosity that bankrupts him. Now think back to that infamous and sexy Apple ad where the woman in Lycra shorts runs past rows of grey men in suits, throwing a sledge hammer into the massive, all seeing face of big brother on a huge screen. They are in essence the same perspective expressed in a slightly different way, one as a fear, the other an aspirational image. It’s the idea that consumers can’t be trusted to know what, and need to be told what they should be consuming. In a broadcast world it worked, and made people rich, but we now live in a world where I can tell Bill Gates what I think of his ideas…

Tweets with replies by New Street Photo (@NewStreetPhoto) - Twitter.clipular

A tweet to Bill Gates about his proposal to invest in prevention rather than cure, which I actually agree with, but lets face it. He could solve this one without loosing more than 10% of his net worth [if that], which might have been a lot better if I hadn’t missed out the word “World” 🙂

“Authenticity in advertising” is the concept that what you present to your audience isn’t a predefined idealised version of who they should be [through using your product or service], but a reflection of who they are, and what they actually do, and it goes a lot further. The notion that advertising and marketing is about creating a brand that defines a person’s identity is slowly but surely dying, and it’s being replaced by something a lot more exciting. The concept that the brand can be created by the people who will ultimately use, and therefore buy it. Think about that for a moment, not as a marketing professional, but as a consumer. Personally, how many times have you been disappointed with a product or service because you bought into the idea, but it didn’t translate into reality.

This is why brands like Sony have turned to agencies like Hey Human to run their social media campaigns, using “Authentic” content for promotions. This is happening alongside The Concept initiative M which is delivering Android 6.0 to existing Xperia Z3 users prior to it’s official launch. This isn’t Homer creating his own car, it’s Sony giving their consumers a voice, and that’s a powerful thing. Which opinions will get through, and how much it will influence the final release we’ll have to wait and see, but right now in marketing terms I’d say they’re pretty much front runners in the blue chip game.

Authenticity by Birmingham photographer Barry Robinson

When I submitted this image, as a private individual, yes I wanted to win a promotion, but I also wanted to demonstrate that photography had moved past the notion of posed and idealised imagery [which is why I was drawn to it in the first place].

If you’re still reading you’re probably thinking “What the hell has any of this got to do with photography?” Well, for one thing I was one of the winners of Sony’s “Poetry in moments” promotion, and yes it is a real snap of my wife throwing snow in the air taken on a mobile device. It’s not in any way professionally lit or framed, just edited.

But what if you’re not Sony, what if you’re a guy who makes clothes, or shoes? Well, the great thing about “Authentic content” is you don’t need a massive budget to make it happen. Think of it like this! Say you make athletic clothes, t-shirts, maybe shoes. Instead of spending a huge budget on actors, props, studios [or as well as], why not give us a licence to give your apparel to real people, in the real world, doing extraordinary things like parkour, or skateboarding!

This is being done right now, and it’s having a huge impact. Check out the Y’s social media campaign, in particular “Idle hands” and “Spaces”. Real people doing real things…

A couple of years ago we were asked by Moogsoft [then a start up, now more of an upstart!] in service and fault management space to create images for their recruitment campaign. We started by spending time with the development team, getting to know the people, the place, the feel. The idea wasn’t to create perfect images, but images that would attract the kind of people who’d fit with culture.

A wedding is something you can rehearse, plan out, execute with timing, but creating Authentic content isn’t. It’s about reading people, how they react, and above all trying not get in people’s way. That’s why there’s a minimal use of flash, even though we’d brought along studio strobes for headshots.

This is a small part of what we do, but it’s the heart of it. Creating images that say something real about you, your product, or your culture in a way that’s real and honest.

If you want to know how this all turned out just head on over to the front page and read the review posted on our Google page by Sharifa Parker, HR at Moogsoft, and the endorsement by Phil Tee, the chairman, CEO, and founder of Moogsoft Inc on LinkedIn.

More importantly if you want to give use a go you literally have nothing to lose! If you don’t like my work, and don’t want to use it, then you simply don’t have to pay.

You can  contact me on +44 777 079 1061 or by email at and all my details are available on this site.


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