Nothing excites a customer more than seeing themselves included in advertising campaigns, marketing messages, and branded content pieces that are focused on authentic representation of their demographic identities.
While advertising agencies, creative boutiques, PR firms, and many other companies involved in inclusive marketing campaigns are trying their best to show diverse representation, to avoid tokenism and performative allyship, absolutely all the professionals in these companies should have a firm and authentic understanding of their target market. Otherwise, your company risks producing an inch-deep marketing strategy with diverse cast members just for the sake of diversity and without the necessary thoughtful consideration that actually attracts and retains customers.
How can you infuse authenticity into your inclusive marketing campaigns? Most powerfully, you should consider the value of documentary-style narratives and content. This article also proposes three actionable tactics for marketing and advertising professionals to consider when working on a campaign or strategy that targets diverse and inclusive markets. But first, let’s take a look at the market impact of documentary-style narratives versus scripted content.
The Power of Truth and Documentary-Style Content
What I mean by “documentary-style content” is any narrative given by a real person – not an actor – who is authentically sharing their own story and their own experiences. As the name suggests, any kind of production that takes on a journalistic approach also provides a sense of realness and authenticity to its target audiences.
These types of content document a truthful representation of one person’s unique, individual experience, or the experience of a group of people. They are relatable and human-centered. They focus on a singular, real-life narrative, not one that is made up, edited, or aspirational.
One great example of that content is the Ford campaign called New Power Suit, which showcases the real, lived experience of Patrice Banks – owner of Girls Auto Clinic. Patrice is an engineer, mechanic, and entrepreneur who created a business centered around women (and predominantly, women of color) in the auto repair industry. Her appearance in Ford’s spot is part of their initiative in showcasing entrepreneurs, culture-shifters, and game-changers who are changing the narrative of their industries.
The beauty of this campaign is its acute representation of the story as it is. In the video, Banks is surrounded by her colleagues and friends, talking directly to the camera about the work they do and the intention behind it. This production exemplifies the power of a documentary style and authentically represents a real character with a true, lived experience
Ok, But What About Scripted Content?
Today, the majority of commercials and short-form videos rely heavily on creative concepts and storyboards produced by ad agencies with the dual purpose of entertainment and engagement. They naturally go through the process of script writing, pre-production, auditions, casting, videography, and video editing to produce a narrative that is polished and professional, with the right key words and call to action. These ads rely on a willing suspension of disbelief so that, even though customers are aware that the content is performative and fictional, they still connect with it, appreciate it, and often feel an authentic emotional reaction.