Casting real people to build authentic engagement

Trends come and go in the world of marketing, but the one that's here to stay is using real people in campaigns. It's nothing new, but using real people or customers brings a genuineness to your campaign that many struggle to achieve with hired talent or celebrities. This is something we call authentic engagement and when done well, it really connects with us on an emotional level.

So is it time to ditch famous faces and put everyday people into the spotlight?

Average Joe is now the hero

Our culture is changing. Average Joe is now the hero. Just look at today's popular shows; Gogglebox, celebrates the views of normal people just like us, First Dates allows us to be a fly on the wall in the world of dating and live streaming on social media gives us direct access to brands and people in ways we've never seen before. Modern celebrities are 'real people' too - the likes of Joe Wickes, Zoella, Tanya Burr and many more have made millions sharing content online.

It's no surprise that Millennials are significantly influenced by people they don’t know when it comes to buying products. In a Bazaar voice survey, 84% of millennials asked said user-generated content has influence in what they buy, compared with only 70% of Baby Boomers.

In a world where we spend more and more time looking into a screen, it seems we're craving unedited content which delivers a human connection.

Brands who use ‘real’ people in their advertising campaigns have seen a rise in brand advocacy and sales. Dove is an excellent example – having launched their ‘Real Beauty campaign in 2004, celebrating everyday women in all shapes and sizes, they saw sales jump to $4 billion from $2.5 billion in the campaign’s inaugural year. Years down the line, the campaign is still going strong. 

Are there risks of using the general public?

When brands turn to user-generated content, they relinquish some control. What if Average Joe is simply awkward in front of the camera? What if the money you put into promoting and incentivising user-generated content fails?

Jess, Bowline's Director notes "clients can sometimes be nervous about relinquishing control and see using real people (customers or staff) as a risk, preferring the comfort of a script and paid talent who are used to taking direction for a living. Capturing natural content from people requires a strong director and watertight planning, if people are relaxed and know what the objectives are you're more likely to get great results." 


The best campaign examples:

Here’s a round up of some of the best examples: 


Sainsburys – injecting energy and fun into the everyday

Having recently appointed Wieden & Kennedy London as their main advertising agency, Sainsburys have produced a fresh campaign which revolves around the hashtag #FoodDancing – celebrating the joy of cooking and people’s unique kitchen moments captured on video. It's charm stems from its authentic poor quality video which suggests it’s been captured on iphone by the people themselves.


Kiwi Shoe Care UK – a stunning story to tell

If you’re looking for an aesthetically stunning and captivating story, this advert is well worth a watch. It beautifully captures Jean Woods, a pensioner from Bath who discovered the freedom of expression and style following the death of her husband. There is no reference to the brand throughout the two minute video, until the closing credits. We love it!


Rimmel London – changing straplines to stick with the times

Whilst Rimmel are still using influencers and celebrities to endorse the products themselves, they’ve changed their strapline from ‘get the London look’ to ‘Live the London look’, encouraging consumers to engage with the brand on social media by posting photos of themselves in a particular pose in their latest campaign for 2017.


Rimmel Live The London Look


Starbucks – cup design contest gets creative juices flowing

Starbucks’ ‘White cup contest’ asked customers to doodle on a plain cup and submit their entries over a three week period in order to be in with a chance to have their design featured on a reusable tumbler. People got creative with the challenge and there were some impressive entries! The winner’s story revolved around her being constantly told off for doodling at school, but eventually pursuing it to build her career.


Starbucks White Cup Contest


We hope this post gives you some inspiration and shows just how valuable your customers are for your marketing activity.