Keeping it Real in the Age of Curated Perfection

The state of being complete and correct in every way.

Let’s be honest. Perfection is impossible to achieve. So why do brands strive to create an online presence that is ‘perfect?’

Last Wednesday, James and I ventured out of the Hustle office over to the MCA to attend ‘Vivid Idea: Keeping it Real in the Age of Curated Perfection.’ On the panel was:

  • Jono Nicholas – CEO: ReachOut Australia
  • Lisa Portolan – Author: Happy As
  • Clare McMeniman – Former Australian Diamonds Captain, Team Girls Ambassador
  • Jessica Madruga – Research Manager: Viacom
  • Kate Russell – Community Maven: Lululemon

Whilst all five panelists came from very different communications backgrounds, they stood united on one message – Curated content just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Jono Nicolas used the Myth of Narcissus, Echo and Nemesis as an analogy to reflect the current climate of social media. A quick google search will give you a more detailed story, but in a nutshell, Narcissus falls hopelessly in love with his own reflection. In fact, he stares at his own reflection for so long that he ends up starving to death. The traditional perception of the story was that Narcissus was self-obsessed, egotistical and conceited. But maybe there is another side of the story? Perhaps Narcissus was in fact insecure, anxious and self-conscious? Communication companies need to be aware of this paradigm shift.

Both James and I were infatuated with almost everything Kate Russell said. Lululemon is a yoga-inspired activewear company for men and women. Founded in Canada in 1998, the business has grown to be a worldwide empire. What we found most astounding is the fact that up until last year, Lululemon has NEVER utilised paid marketing. Instead, Lululemon have deservingly obtained their top status in the sports apparel market almost entirely through word-of-mouth. Lululemon sells the emotional connection between their products and their values of customers.

In 2017, Lululemon launched their first ever global ad campaign, using real people with real stories to explain what yoga is all about – without actually showing any yoga. It is the ultimate example of authentic branding in action. Check it out!

So what can we learn from all this?

1. Authentic campaigns result in long-term gains. Realness, storytelling and relatable messages help create a relationship with the community. Brands should give to their customers without expectations and should remain true to their values when business risks are involved.

2. Business opportunities should intersect with a higher social purpose. Nowadays, businesses are choosing to make a profit over contributing positively to the world. What businesses should really be doing is finding the happy medium between maximising their profits subject to working in a socially responsible manner.

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