All businesses now operate within the attention economy. That means there is more pressure to be relevant, more pressure to be authentic and more pressure to connect with your audience than ever before.
Back in the fifties and sixties – the Mad Men era, print, radio and television ads told us what to think and how to act. We were shown how to get our whites whiter and we were told how we could all achieve domestic bliss. And for a time, we all played along.
Since that time however, things have changed. A lot. Our collective skepticism (BS meter) is now at an all-time high. Today we’re all looking for simple truths – things that we can relate to on a human level… Wabi Sabi.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that has many different interpretations and meanings but centers around the ideas of the natural beauty of imperfection and simplicity.
Imagine being brave enough to show that you have a few chinks in the armor, that you’re not a perfect person or company. Sounds risky doesn’t it. It sounds like everything we’ve been fighting against our whole marketing lives. Presenting the real story, the one with human flaws in it gives the viewer something they can actually connect with. Through our imperfections we deliver the subtle message that we’re showing ourselves as we really are… and this commitment to transparency is being rewarded with trust.
This first video was produced by the production house Variable as part of a positive awareness campaign by Pfizer on aging. It’s beautifully shot and tells a story that viewers of all ages can relate to. It’s simple, it’s positive and it turns our single biggest genetic flaw (we age…) into something a little less scary.
A simple idea and a clear message – that’s what works today. Unilever has made Wabi Sabi one of the central themes of their leading personal care brand. Dove has had success with two different video campaigns that employ the Wabi Sabi aesthetic: The first was their Dove Evolution video that garnered a great deal of press and attention after challenging the true meaning of beauty and their more recent video series Dove Beauty sketches that challenged woman to describe themselves to a sketch artist.
Embracing the beauty of imperfection and the simplicity of a single powerful idea – two very important forces that cut through the distorted reality of the majority today’s marketing campaigns.
In the spirit of Wabi Sabi, it’s important to realize that no one can live up to the ideals of perfection that we continue to project in to our marketing campaigns. Instead, let’s celebrate our differences in a way that benefits everyone.