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This economy has a (new) face

We live in a day and age of technology; an era that has arguably made our lives more sophisticated. However, technology advancement is also bringing the fight to a faceless monster - the disconnected world where the things we buy and subsequent companies we support are phantoms of commerce.

Explains Ricardo Rocha, creative director of Etiket, a Pretoria-based full service advertising agency: "We once lived in a world that valued the fact that there was always a person behind everything it bought. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker were all people that found passion through their trade. And with time and dedication they perfected their trade and people shared in their passion and reaped the benefits of their commitment.

"However, the world moved away from this person-behind-the-product and we started obtaining products from faceless global giants that prevented us from understanding and buying into the passion that drove their products or services."

Technology and more specifically the Internet and social media are turning the tide, changing the economy and giving it a new face. It is bridging the divide between the consumer and the producer.

"Consumers can once again put a face to the name - we now have the means to care about the people behind the business and want to know more about them. It speaks to our humanity as we find comfort in understanding the context that supports the person behind the product," says Rocha.

"It gives us joy to know there was a degree of love put into the creation of the product we bought. Also, we love the back story as enables us to add it to our own narrative which is - in itself - unique and interesting. It adds value to our lives."

The reality is social media enables consumers to do a "background check" on the face behind the business. Be it an individual or a specific company division, it all adds to person's quest to find value and realise the human connection.

However, the face economy also comes with its own set of interesting challenges. It forces companies to be honest and good as we can immediately see the connection between the people (behind the product) and whether this product adheres to the values of fair trade.

Adds Rocha: "The advantage for an advertising agency is that we do not have to create a veneer to mask the product or company's flaws. As an agency we have to focus on being simple and honest. The drawback is we have to be more critical of our clients; we cannot turn a blind eye."

The face economy is impacting companies and their consumer on a global basis, bringing back the passion and humanity of products but also casting a spotllight on whether it is indeed good, fair practices. "The time for mediocrity is over, the face economy will keep business honest and its consumers passionate," he concludes.

9 Apr 2013 09:29