This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” His new book “CTRL ALT Delete” was released in May 2013. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

It’s about something more than authenticity.

It is somewhat amazing that we live in a day and age when people talk about brands and authenticity like it is some kind of given. Just because brands have been forced to engage with consumers in a much quicker and more transparent fashion, it doesn’t make them any more authentic. It just means that they are being public with the speed in which they connect. That’s it.

Few brands are truly authentic. Care to debate that issue? Turn on the TV tonight and just watch the commercials. Take note of the ones that are truly authentic. The ones that aren’t just authentic, but telling a real and true story.

How did these ads score?

Watch this video from the Fast Company article titled, “Ricky Gervais Tells A Story About How He Learned To Write”:

How many stories does your brand tell?

It’s interesting how marketers make an assumption that consumers don’t want a real story. Consumers want to be faced with suspended disbelief. They want to think that what they’re buying will change their lives. Make them better. Whatever. Think about the advertising that moved you. Truly moved you. What was it all about?

Ricky Gervais isn’t saying something new that none of us haven’t heard before. He’s telling us something we all know, with a fresh perspective. When marketers create a story, people can feel it. When marketers tell a story — because it’s something that happened in the real world, that is personal, or that is identifiable as something pure, real, and honest — it can move mountains. Brands can do this. Marketers should be able to master this.

I wish more brands and advertising professionals created their ads the same way that Ricky Gervais writes a story.


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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  1. Deborah Hinton

    Couldn’t agree more. Advertising as just one element of the brand experience can be too clever by far and it will always distract from the real story. Thanks for sharing.

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