Friday, 21 May 2010

Get Real

Spontaneous acts of dancing in public places, singalong-an-employee, makeovers for your face, your wardrobe, your home, your children and your pets: the appetite from clients and agencies to produce chunks of "realism" as brand communication seems never-ending. It's fuelled by the public obsession with all things Reality Show, of course, and by the mantra that brands should be doing rather than simply telling a well-chosen message or two.

The thinking behind this is all sound enough. Yes, brands should show how they make a difference in real people's lives, rather than merely projecting some sort of unrealistic and insubstantial image. But maybe we should stop and think about what exactly we are doing here.

"Reality" may not always be the answer. "Reality" may be, all too often, the warts and all approach that rides roughshod over dreams and desires. And "reality", as in Reality TV, can mean the very opposite of identification on the part of the viewer. As often as not, this sort of treatment creates distance, from the mild "there but for the grace of God go I" through mocking and Schadenfreude to the full blown freak show.

Rather than "reality", perhaps we should be looking to Real Life to connect and to invite personal identification. Real Life is about what makes real human beings tick - their dreams, hopes and desires. And this can be portrayed better through a piece of beautifully constructed and produced fiction than through that latest makeover for Mr Freak's warts.

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