We all know about the importance of authenticity.
It’s been part of the bullshit bingo in agency-land for some time.
Even five years ago, on writing a piece for the US Huffington Post about authenticity, I was sufficiently worried that the word strayed far enough into cliche territory that I made a clumsy attempt to aim-off for it.
I needn’t have bothered.
Today, no conference or client-agency ‘strategy session’ is complete without someone uttering the A-word, with due drama and associated pensive twiddling of a well-waxed Shoreditch moustache.
‘Authenticity’ has well and truly entered the lexicon of our industry. And with reason. (Ubiquity does not equal redundancy, after all.)
I was in Washington DC last week. Anyone who has been will tell you that this is a city where it is impossible to escape politics. Indeed, it’s why some of us keep going back there. And as the last bits of bunting were being removed from the White House’s annual egg roll, all the talk was of ‘Hillary’.
When was the former, respected Secretary of State going to launch her bid for the Presidency? The fact that she was going to was the worst kept secret in America. Indeed, the senior Democrats that I met with were more preoccupied with ensuring that her nomination did not look too much like the Zadok-the-Priest-and-all coronation that – at the moment at least – it is.
Having just watched the campaign’s launch video, I think they have bigger fish to fry.
The short film is squarely, one might even say cynically, aimed at showing empathy with regular Americans, particularly women. So far, grist to the mill; your classic political video, rightly or wrongly. But then we cut to the accomplished former Senator and First Lady, and she begins to speak:
‘the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.
Everyday Americans need a champion; and I want to be that champion.’
Hillary Clinton is a graduate of Yale. She is a lawyer. She is a former First Lady of the state of Arkansas and of the United States. She is a former Senator for New York, and until 2013 was the most senior diplomat in the world, bar none. She and her husband are millionaires and their daughter Chelsea has just moved into a $10m apartment in Manhattan.
I don’t begrudge them any of that and I can’t stand the politics of envy. And let’s not even start on the whole different (and crazy) ball of wax that is that the Republican bunfight.
My point is non-partisan, and it is this: Americans are not stupid.
They know what everyday life in America is like. They know what ‘Everyday Americans’ are like.
And they are not like Hillary Clinton.
This able, seriously experienced and accomplished stateswoman has a huge amount to offer the land of the free (as do many of her Republican rivals). But being ‘ordinary’, or even ‘champion of the ordinary’, is not one of them.
Hillary Clinton is smart, and incredibly sophisticated. So are the people around her. Like us, they know that authenticity matters.
Her campaign’s first big problem will be that the American people do too.
– this piece first kindly published by Campaign Magazine