Art Director

Rich's Blog

Let’s get real in 2017

A week or so in to 2017 the “hottest trend in 2017” articles have started to die down, but I wanted to take the chance to highlight my own. Perhaps less of a trend but more an observance i’ve had of how attitudes are changing.

2016 had its fair share of bad news which all came with a rather large dollop of real-ness, for example the political upheaval and celebrity deaths. Everything got very real and very quick. And why we try to hide away from it all, it was hard to ignore. We had to face up to what was happening and no amount of superhero movies or funny YouTube videos was going to change that. 

It was also the year that vinyl sales hit a 25 year high and beat sales of digital downloads. Proving there is a lot of people out there that want to get back in touch with music in physical form. When so much of what we do and consume is throw away, transient or not even tangible, it’s no wonder that a revival for the real is happening. Another example, the FT wrote recently about how Millenials are choosing to use pen and paper over digital alternatives.

But how does this all relate to design and advertising I hear you say? Well the thing that got me thinking about all this was seeing the new BBC One idents. Martin Parr has created a short films showing groups of people from around the UK doing things they love with their peers. It’s a really sweet idea – long gone are the CGI hippos swimming in circles. It signalled a change to me, a brand wanting to identify with its audience: “Look we’re really here for you. We’ve got real people on our side just like you and everyone around you. We’re real, you’re real, we get it!”

It’s an interesting tact (and relevant for the BBC in particular) as so much on TV is fabricated, to aid escapism. Even “reality” TV is far far from that these days. But what if we’ve all had enough of ignoring whats really happening in the world and just want TV, the media, the brands we buy to be truthful with us?

Another example is the just revealed British Army recruitment ads. In the past they’ve used overly glamourised visions of life in army, showing action-packed, energetic men and women having the time of their lives. The new TV ad and press ads feel much more authentic. And although I can’t say from any previous experience, more real. 

I think brands in 2017 should look to be more honest, more straightforward, truthful and relevant to the bigger picture. Lets show consumers the people behind the tech, how things work.  Identify with the audience, don’t pretend you get them, actually speak to them and get feedback. Consumers are wiser these days, so don’t pull the wool over anyones eyes. 

Just like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when opening a record and placing the needle on it, a consumer’s experience with a brand should be the same. So lets make 2017 the year of getting real.