Sometimes you’re served content that causes you to stop what you’re doing and type 818 words on it. This from @WingstopUK on TikTok is one of those times.

They partnered with @RealStepz for this collaboration way back at the beginning of the year, but after it took off organically recently, they’re now putting budget behind it as an ad.

The idea is simple. POV, you’re a customer whose friend works behind the checkout at a Wingstop. You arrive, and he welcomes you like a complete stranger before (slyly) offering you free chicken and whispering instructions to make it all seem above board. He’s got your order ready, and passes it over the counter while looking around, making sure you’re both in the clear. OK you really should watch it.

It stuck with me. Not like a catchy jingle or a fuzzy glow from an ASDA Christmas ad. More like a sledgehammer to the coccyx. It’s genius. I’ve not stopped thinking about it, and now I want some wings – which I guess is the point.

These days, ‘unconventional’ tactics are so common they’re essentially conventional. Most brands are now open to poking fun at their product, their customers, and most importantly, themselves.

Michael Corcoran, Ryanair’s (now former 😶) head of social famously took this approach to new heights by turning the social media spotlight back on the airline’s most common complaints on Twitter.

Where other [read almost all] brands might attempt to bury or obfuscate common gripes customers choose to air in public, Ryanair essentially blew them up and put them on the side of a plane. 

IKEA took it further this year with a realer-than-real campaign highlighting the less glamorous moments in the life cycle of a sofa. We all know how lovely a three-piece suite can look in a carefully staged living room at golden hour; showing us how it holds up during stomach-bug season, however, is as authentic as it gets.

This content strategy is nothing new for Wingstop – just another day in the life of a brand that gets social media and their audience. They’ve been doing it for a hot minute. They’ve worked with the right people, struck the right tone, and nailed the content delivery time after time. 

But still, this one video just honestly had me messed up. 

For a brand to look us dead in the eye and say, “we know sometimes you have friends who work for us, and sometimes they sneak you some free chicken. Guess what – we don’t really care” was a sliding doors moment for me. A bit of a schism in my marketing world.

And I am absolutely here for this reformation.

Brands aren’t doing this for clicks, impressions, or reach. Yes, of course, they’re getting clicks, impressions, and reach. But that’s not why they’re doing it. They’re doing it because (once again for the marketing directors in the back) brands  👏  have  👏 to  👏  actually 👏 be 👏 authentic 👏 and 👏 relatable.

What’s more authentic than slipping a pal a freebie in your workplace? What’s more relatable than having that one friend who is always scamming? Be brutally honest.

Gen Z want brutal honesty. But it’s not just Gen Z. Even cheugy old, skinny-jean-wearing, WhatsApp-worshipping, small-plate-ordering, millennials like me want it too. Who doesn’t want honesty? Who wants to feel like they’re being sold to? Not me.

Marketers spend a lot of time talking about relatability and authenticity, but sometimes these words are tossed around willy-nilly. When it comes down to it, there’s a line where relatability and authenticity get in the way of a sales message, or hit a wall of brand positioning.

That’s not good enough any more.

We need to be honest with ourselves. If we can’t manage that, how can we be honest with our customers?

Not every brand has to do this. It’s only important if you want to engage and relate to people aged between 15 and 40 in a fun way. 

There will always be room for the mundane, space for the humdrum, and plenty of opportunities to convey the brand message that needs to be communicated; but without authenticity and relatability, you’ll struggle to connect with Gen Z, zillennials, and cheugy old millennials.

But why do I care so much about what a chicken wing restaurant is doing on socials? 

Because it’s exciting as heck; because sharing my insights was brought up at my last quarterly review; and because I’d give my right arm to work on an account like that. 

If you’re reading this, and you want your brand to start getting a bit wild, authentic, and relatable as hell – hit us up.

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