Authenticity Wins Again

April 9, 2007 by

Values like transparency, authenticity and connectedness date back to some of our earliest entries when we started Church Marketing Sucks three years ago. When I’m given the opportunity to speak at church communication events, these themes are always met with resounding affirmation and rejuvenated commitment. The Story we’re communicating is beyond Photoshop and nifty web sites. It’s about connecting people to a Story that they’re a part of. Not for us to fill a pew but so that Christ can fill a heart.

The March 26 issue of Adweek has an article by Christine Champagne that affirms this point about authenticity, especially in advertising. Champagne points out the recent campaigns by Kleenex and Secret (deodorant), as well as Commit (lozenges to stop smoking). All three were taking cues from Dove with the continued success of their “campaign for real beauty” that began in 2004.

Champagne suggests that reality television–in all of its transparent, confessional, cry-to-momma-moments–has helped facilitate the trend in advertising toward using real people and real problems to connect with consumers.

I think there is more going on here. Back in February I did a book review on the Personality™ blog (the cause marketing agency I founded in 1998). It was for the book Mind Your X’s and Y’s: Satisfying the 10 Cravings of a New Generation of Consumers by Lisa Johnson. In her book, Johnson suggests five essential criteria that underlie the cravings for the next generation: experience, transparency, reinvention, connection and expression.

The point here is that we’re moving into a generation that is ignoring the hype. We’re sick of fashion models that don’t look like our friends, products that don’t work the same “as seen on TV,” and Christianity that fits better on a bumper sticker and a billboard rather than a Bible study.

Authenticity. Transparency. Connectedness. The list of adjectives could go on. How will you tell the Story?

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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10 Responses to “Authenticity Wins Again”

  • Doug
    April 9, 2007

    Great post Brad. If you like what that article said, you might enjoy these books:
    1) “Advertising: Pure and Simple” by Hank Sieden
    2) “Reality in Adveritsing” by Rosser Reeves

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  • Truth Seeker
    April 9, 2007

    I was wondering if someone can give me a good definition of what “authentic” means. I hear this term thrown about a lot and I am curious as to what this means.

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  • Sarah
    April 9, 2007

    Interesting article. I will be curious to see how this new form of advertising pans out.
    Also it shows people are interested but have sales gone up? I liked Dove’s campaign but it didn’t make me switch to using their products.
    just thoughts.

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  • Ken
    April 9, 2007

    Great post. As I prepare to plant a church in Paris, I get to visit a lot of churches. This level of authenticity may not always have been as critical as things like polish, style, or flash, but I have seen how churches that get the authenticity dynamic are the one reaching the most people today.

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  • Steve K.
    April 9, 2007

    Johnson’s list is intriguing: experience, transparency, reinvention, connection and expression.
    Leonard Sweet has summarized our cultural values in the acronym E.P.I.C.: experiential, participatory, image-based, and connective.
    Definitely some similarities there.

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  • Craig
    April 10, 2007

    I think “authenticity” should mean: whenever you are most yourself. Remember, Jesus called the Pharissees “hypocrites”, which were Greek Tragic actors who definitely played a role instead of being themselves.
    Maybe I’ve been reading The Message:Remix too much ;-) ?
    (My fave translation)

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  • st. Mars
    April 10, 2007

    …Anything helps! We are still a Christian nation (USA)!….on a tangent, I have always been intrigued by the ‘Truth’ non-smoking campaigns. I would love to see a Christian attempt at this….like with Invisible Children or somethin’ positive like that. Also, I used to get violent when I used to see those stupid Mormon commercials….much of the general public just lumps them in with every other ‘Jesus’ organization. I dislike ‘religious’ religion (please don’t blast me on this….I’m not knocking tradition!!)

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  • Truth Seeker
    April 10, 2007

    Blessings to you! You said that authenticity is whenever you are most like yourself. That is a fair definition but I also wonder if it is incomplete. What do you mean by “whenever”? Does this mean that authenticity can be turned on and off? I am authentic here but not in another setting?
    Also, when you say who we are, is that in relation wo what Paul says about the flesh? In other words are we being we are in the flesh or in the spirit? I know that if I were to be who I really was I would be an angry, curse-word spewing, bigot. But I reject who I really am and seek to be who Christ wants me to be, like his Son. So when you say who we really are, are you talking about the flesh or that which God wants us to be?
    Good thoughts though. I hear this term so much these days and much of what I hear is nonsense as far as meaning and definition. Sorry if I am asking to much, trying to work through this.
    Look forward to hearing from you!

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  • CyanFox
    April 11, 2007

    We are governed by choice, by free will – thus, being true, honest or simply real is purely a matter of choice.
    Now, being an authentic as a person – that’s different. I think this deals more with the realness of what we emulate to be: being an authentic friend can be as simple as truly being a friend, and being an authentic doctor can simply mean having a legitimate license and practice. But what does it take to be an authentic Christian? Because from what I understand, “living in the flesh” and “living by the flesh” aren’t the same.
    By the way, to Steve: Don’t worry, there are a lot of us loves to read TheMessage:Remix! (despite it’s faults)

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  • Brandon
    October 2, 2007

    I think authenticity is easy enough to define. I think it is simply being genuine.
    It’s making a comment becuase that’s what you feel as opposed to attempting to anticipate the audiences reaction before speaking.
    Our Youth program is currently launching a store-bought bible study program that absolutely smells of cheesyness. It’s not secret that they got a bunch of no nothing adults in a room together and tried to come up with a “cool” way to present the word. I’m sure the word “mtv” and “videogames” was thrown around quite a bit. The result is laughable and the kids reject it out of hand as pure cheese.
    Authenticity is saying “I’m here, and I’m talking to you about what I believe” as opposed to ” I’m trying to be funny because I’m trying to get you to like me” or “I’m standing in front of this arcade machine to look like I’m young” or “I’m wearing a sports coat over a tshirt even though I’m 50 because I read this is what the kids are doing”.
    If you want to be cool, find somebody genuines cool who has a heart for god. Does try to create it. That’s authentic.

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