'Real People' Take Centre Stage in Adland: Ads Featuring Employees and Consumers Are on the Rise as Brands Look to Push the 'Truth' of Their Message, Discovers Matthew Arnold. (Analysis)

Article excerpt

Abbey National's announcement last week that it would hold talent show-style auditions for customers to find the stars of its new TV campaign (Marketing, January 10) confirmed what is fast becoming adland's new trend.

Spurred on by the popularity of reality TV shows such as Pop Idol and Big Brother, advertisers are eschewing actors in favour of 'real people' -- staff and consumers, long featured in tactical spots, are now fronting brand campaigns.

Ads featuring company employees are perhaps popular because they can help motivate staff as well as customers. B&Q's 'You can do it' ads use straight-talking staff to sell the DIY retailer's brand values of honesty and value.

"Consumers are becoming wiser to traditional advertising," says Richard Morewood, group director on the B&Q account at Bates UK. "They want to hear you tell it like it is. There's no more pulling the wool over their eyes."

B&Q has spawned more than its fair share of imitators, the most obvious being Halifax. …