David Boyle

Authenticity: Brands, Fakes, Spin and the Lust for Real Life

Harper Perennial
(2003-4)

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“Amusing and sharply observed… Boyle’s is a beguiling vision of hope for the future.”
Time Out

“A manifesto for the disillusioned … This book provides vindication and comfort for those who struggle to accept the PR-soaked, artificially flavoured, celebrity-deifying hegemony of modern society.”
New Consumer

 

The emergence of a powerful new trend – pro-local, pro-authentic – looks set to overturn all our conventional assumptions about globalisation and virtualisation. Authenticity tracks the emergence of the New Realists – possibly up to 50 per cent of the population of the UK – who are not convinced by corporate technologists and globalizers, and are increasingly committed to real food, real culture, real politics, real schools, real community, real medicine, real culture, real stories…

Although we have been told for the past 40 years that technological and virtual solutions would drive out the rest – that we would soon have food in pill form or learn only from computer terminals – the reality is the reverse.

But ironically, although there are large numbers of New Realists – who may eat fast food sometimes but will defend their right to an authentic option with increasing passion – most of them believe they are almost alone.

The rise of local brands, real ale, reading groups, organic vegetables, slow food, poetry recitals, unmixed music, materiality in art and unbranded vintage fashions, are all symptoms of the same thing – a demand for human-scale, face-to-face institutions and real experience. It also means:

  • New realism is not a conservative force – though there are elements of that – but a forward-looking movement that looks to adapt traditional wisdom for modern life.
  • It is a progressive revolution: cosmopolitan foods from all over the world on our supermarket shelves were able to satisfy people’s demands for authenticity a generation ago, but now people are increasingly demanding what’s local, healthy and real.
  • The idea of authenticity has been hi-jacked by the advertisers, and although Young & Rubicam recently claimed that brands are the new religion – the source of authenticity in people’s lives – the opposite is actually true: brands disappoint. That’s why the big global brands are trying so hard to buy up the local ones, and why banking giants like HSBC claim they are ‘the local bank’.
  • What enough people demand, they will get: the New Realists look set to drive a revolution in the structure and methods of business.

Extracts from the book

Chapter 1 - Living in an Artificial World

Chapter 4 - Real food

Chapter 8 - Real relationships

Chapter 11 - Authenticity wars

Chapter 12 - The new renaissance

 

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