“This generation doesn’t dislike brands. What they don’t like is advertising.”
Erin McPherson from Maker Studios said this about about Millennials at an IAB event last year. She continued, “The new authority is authenticity.”
We frequently hear that “authenticity” is the key to marketing to millennials. It’s an amorphous term that has led many brands adding words like “honest” and “real” and “transparent” to their marketing vocabulary. This can result in ads inauthentically trying to sound and look “authentic”. And any generation, millennials included, can spot inauthentic authenticity a mile away.
Sooner or later, faux-thenticity reveals itself. Mast Brothers Chocolate learned this lesson the hard way when their integrity was called into question last month. Long promoting an image of Brooklyn-crafted artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate, they were accused of faking it at the start. A prominent food blogger charged the bearded brothers of simply remelting industrial chocolate and then concocting a brand as “one of authenticity, one of care, obsession, commitment, integrity, transparency, all of that … this was all a facade.” He compared the brand to Milli Vanilli, the pop duo caught lip-syncing in the 90s.
Marketing has traditionally been about positioning a product in its best light. So, in the search for “authentic” marketing, the potential for brands pulling a Milli Vanilli is high.
Authenticity isn’t something a brand says about itself. It’s something a brand shows by what it does.
Or as Jeff Bezos famously said, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts.