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  • David Fiore

TIME TO GET REAL

Updated: Jan 25, 2018


Wow, this is huge. CVS will not be doing any more photo manipulation of the models in their beauty marketing – and even more ripple-producing, they’ll be requiring the same retouching restriction from companies seeking to market in their stores. https://usat.ly/2Ddfpth. This is anathema to what most marketers do by nature, therefore, it’s huge. The results will be very interesting.


In the marketing biz, truth can be a hazy ghost, wobbling in and out of focus. But let’s start here: Marketers can’t tell bald lies. There are laws and industry watch dog groups that keep an eye on that sort of thing. So if we can’t lie, why is it when one marketer promises absolute truth we take notice? Why do so many people distrust marketing?


It’s because too many marketers color their messages in ways that technically can’t be called a lie, but at the same time we recognize isn’t really the truth either. Here’s an example.


“This sweet breakfast cereal will provide great energy to your child as she expends calories on the sporting field today!” And under the copy are images of kids taking slap shots and jumping hurdles.


Do they think parents are stupid?


Parents know there are plenty of healthy ways to provide caloric energy to their kids, and sugary cereal is not one of them. So, while parents will recognize that this message is not exactly a lie – yes, calories delivered from copious amounts of sugar will create a burst of energy – they also know with complete certainty that the brand selling the “sugar for sports” story is trying to shine them.


And voila, consumer distrust.


More brands need to learn the expression that was handed down to me by my dad, and to him by his:

“Real recognizes real.”


Don’t know that one? From the time a kid is in the elementary school playground, he can usually pick up when another kid was posing, faking, lying. Maybe he got burned by one of them, maybe more than once. For those kids who don’t want to be posers, or to be a poser’s patsy, they decide to look for and hang with other kids like themselves, to be with other real people. Ergo, real recognizes real.


As we get older, our “Real Filter” develops and we rely on it more and more. We apply it to important things in our lives. We look at the colleagues we work with, at the organizations we donate to, at the brands we buy, and assess if they are real or posing. Real people keep the things they trust and pitch those they don't.


This attitude is no trend. Real people are emboldened by technology and the word-of-mouth global engine it has empowered. Real people drive that engine and have helped cause increased corporate and product transparency, caused companies to open consumer feedback hotlines, and even got some to try improving their products and services in real ways. Look at CVS!


The “real people” segment is alive and growing. And more brands need to start getting more real, real quick. Congratulations CVS. You're one of us.

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