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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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August 15, 2003

Real or "fake real"? 

Prompted by Tim's earlier blog entry, I have been reading David Boyle's new book Authenticity, Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life. This arrived just as the final proof of my chapter for Beyond Branding, also on Authenticity, went back to the publisher.

I'm about half way through and rarely have I enjoyed a non fiction book so much. It's been funny and touching, a skilful drawing together of many strands around the theme. I particularly like Boyle's distinction between real and fake real. Boyle's examples of fake real include... Big Brother, the Spice Girls, Centreparcs and NHS Direct.

For me, this calls to mind Woody Allen's ironically stated ambition to “forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. And then see if I can get them mass-produced in plastic.” .

Certainly the marketing industry is constantly trying to grab hold of authenticity on behalf of its clients and peddle it back to us. And as Boyle points out,

"The more slick marketing becomes to persuade us that some products are somehow more authentic than others, the more unreal the whole thing looks. And however much the new marketeers use the language of authenticity, it still seems somehow to slip through their fingers."

This is because you can't create authenticity from the top and push it on people; authenticity rises from the individual. Marketing must move away from the production-led foisting of stuff on us towards towards a more buyer-centric model.

Personally, I doubt the resolve and ability of many businesses to make this shift... but I don't doubt the ability of individuals collaborating to get it for themselves.
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