Tony Barry on why promoting ought to transfer individuals
The director and former creative director of Wieden + Kennedy looks back on the lessons he learned when he peeled off the "veneer" of advertising to make people laugh, cry and really believe in what they are just see
Authenticity has been a buzzword in the advertising industry for years. If all you can do is get the consumer to believe in what you show, say, or sell, then the job is a good thing. Ironically, this has likely sparked a wave of purpose-built ads and campaigns that often appear superficial or manipulative. But well done, the advertising industry is on to something. Creating reliable and credible work is a powerful way to connect with people and evoke emotions that mean they'll remember what your brand has to say.
Tony Barry, who has worked at various advertising agencies, including creative director at Wieden + Kennedy, has seen the difficulties of creating credible ads firsthand. "The thing about advertising is that it's spurious from the start because it's transparently trying to sell you something," Barry told CR. "The problem with not being authentic is that it's difficult to connect because people see through the trick."
However, in his years as a director, where he has done award-winning work for brands like HSBC, VW and The Guardian, he has learned quite a bit of the instinct that contributes to the disappearance of the storefront. "Ultimately, you make it up to you, but you try to give it the shine of authenticity so that the emotional highs and lows connect more closely," he says. "In a way, you are trying to remove the advertising veneer. If a performance is suddenly no longer right or the reactions are too great, you are massively undermining this."