From airbrushed to authentic: A post-Covid marketing evolution

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Anna Anderson

Anna Anderson of Condé Nast and Philip Michael of NYCE got together to talk about the global shift towards more authentic marketing.

Over the years, marketing, for most brands, has been about creating the perfect glossy video or meticulous press release that encapsulates the message they’re trying to share with their audience.

But Covid-19 moved the dial, bringing authenticity as a brand value to the top of people’s minds.

Zoom calls during the height of lockdown, conducted in sweat pants and without makeup, looking our realest and rawest, became normal. And marketing began to adapt to this. Now, more than anything else, consumers claim truthfulness and authenticity from their brands.

Anna Anderson, director of influencers at Condé Nast, agreeed, “[the pandemic] put an end to the super glossy, airbrushed content, and people got real. People aren’t looking for perfect anymore, they are looking for real.”

Anna went on to say that consumers’ desire for greater honesty comes with an increased level of responsibility for brands to do more than just pay lip service to their enterprise values.

“At the beginning of the pandemic we talked a lot about whether brands should be talking… that changed once the conversation became more about emphasising a purpose and voice.”

Philip Michael at Web Summit 2021Philip Michael, CEO of NYCE. Image: Diarmuid Greene/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

And so how do you move from airbrushed to authentic in your marketing strategy?

Philip Michael, CEO of NYCE, noted a need for more nuanced segmenting of a company’s customers “[during the pandemic] I saw a trend toward psychographics instead of demographics.” Psychographics classifies groups of people by psychological factors, such as desires and interests, rather than demographic metrics such as age or location.

In doing this, businesses can more easily discover what motivates people and connects them to you, helping to outline a middle ground between their idea of your organisation and fidelity to your values.

Anna, meanwhile, pointed to more open conversations between brands and customers about what they wanted to see from the companies they supported as key to uncovering more authentic marketing. “There’s a much greater dialogue between consumers, influencers and brands [than before the pandemic],” she said.

This shows that paying attention to what customers want is key to surviving in the post-Covid world.

Main image: Cody Glenn/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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