Real Life

Main Image Detail153149792 / Mike Harrington / Riser


Save & Download

Consumers across the globe are seeking to regain control of their lives - in how they interact with others, how they self-express, and how they curate the resources to which they have access. With this broad foundational perspective, let's explore the trend of Real Life more deeply.

The development of Real Life as a visual trend is driven by our collective sense that as a society, we have drifted away from our core values. It’s the sense that we’ve lost control, due to the relentless pursuit of material gains, power and achievement – and we desperately need to re-center ourselves on a more genuine focal point.

Within the past year, this trend has reached the visual language used by major FMCG corporations around the world. The visual representation of real life celebrates a movement towards celebrating life’s simpler, more authentic pleasures. One extension of this is a focus on visuals that capture everyday life and what truly impacts our wellbeing: taking care of ourselves, appreciating family and friends, and enjoying the simple – but meaningful – pleasures in life.

Recent campaign examples

Sainsbury’s Live Well For Less campaign

As mentioned above, a key element of real life as a visual language focuses on the first social network we join: our family. British grocery chain, Sainsbury’s accomplishes this by portraying the joyful and fulfilling relationships we enjoy with our family as the heart of its campaign. Retailers of packaged goods, like Sainsbury’s, face a double challenge to their viability in difficult economic times: not only must they compete for consumer share of wallet with other retailers, but they must find ways to maintain the gross purchase volume of the customers they continue to serve.

The imagery included in Sainsbury’s “Live Well for Less” advertising brings togetherness  to the forefront of enjoying real life. The theme of two boys making friends over the garden fence demonstrates that it's possible to enjoy the simple pleasures in life without having to spend a lot of money on entertainment. This visual execution takes on the upbeat tempo of its musical counterpart “the theme from the Monkees”. The selection of the Monkees theme tune as the musical backbone is itself a nod toward the untainted days we enjoyed as children.

Good Food Deserves Lurpak/Lurpak

Building on the notion of celebrating everyday moments to connect brands and consumers, the Lurpak Company (a British purveyor of premium butter products) expounds upon real life by addressing the sense of pride we find in life’s small achievements. Recent television creative features people getting their hands dirty in the process of baking at home. The final products – pies and cakes – are less-than-pretty to look at, but delicious to taste. Most importantly, they represent a small victory for mankind over kitchen.

The imagery used by Lurpak reminds us that many real life tasks – such as cooking
– don’t result in a product that resembles a perfectly styled magazine shoot. “To hell with imperfections!” is the battle cry of this campaign, and the application of gloriously imperfect imagery underscores that point. In addition to the television component, outdoor billboards depicting foods prepared with Lurpak butter are shot at short distance in all their asymmetric glory.

Public discourse takes center stage

The global recession has also played a critical role in making real life a viable visual language. Recent economic struggles have created backlash against an increasingly fast pace of life, excessive displays of wealth and hubris, and traditional sources of power and control, such as the government and large corporations. The global Occupy Wall Street movement exemplifies a frustration with establishment harbored by many individuals around the world. Populist movements such as these create a rallying point for a diverse and widespread group of consumers, creating an opportunity for marketers to engage in important dialogue – if they take the time to listen.

Create Jobs for USA/Starbucks

The Starbucks Coffee Company is actively participating in public discourse. This past fall, the company launched a .org campaign in conjunction with Opportunity Finance Network to show it takes the concerns of its consumers seriously. The goal of the joint venture “Create Jobs for USA” is to serve “as a project we can all be a part of, that can help the U.S back up on its feet.” The project, for which Starbucks donated the initial $5 million, provides credit-based funding for small businesses in communities that have fewer financing options. Small businesses are believed by many to be the surest source of incremental economic growth.

By demonstrating a willingness to support economic recovery, Starbucks builds invaluable trust with its consumer base. As a complementary touch point to the specific “Jobs” push (which is integrated on its own homepage), the Starbucks fall 2011 advertising campaign featured visual language centered on small moments of indulgence in everyday life. The imagery pays homage to the changing seasons, invoking Starbucks coffee as a means of delivering literal and social warmth in cooler days. With this campaign, Starbucks summons relaxation and friendship as elements of real life that cannot be missed.


FMCG marketers spanning a wide range of services can capitalize on the trend of real life as described within this reptort. The following guidelines suggest ways in which FMCG brands can create successful visual communications surrounding FMCG and real life.

  • Show that you take the concerns of your audiences seriously and that you understand their day-to-day lives. Trust is the foundation for successful brands, so show genuine, slice-of-life moments that will resonate with the viewer.
  • Focus on simple pleasures and “little luxuries” – with imagery that is intimate, sensory, and warm to help celebrate the everyday.

Previous Home