Marc Jacobs Chooses ‘Real People’ from Instagram for His Latest Campaign

They still look like models.

marc jacobs real peopleAnother brand is doing the whole “real models” thing, and this time it’s going high-end.

Marc Jacobs put out a call in April for fans and models to submit their names via Instagram to be considered for the upcoming campaign. According to The Daily Beast, 70,000 people responded and a new hashtag, #CastMeMarc, was born. After some deliberation, nine people were chosen to appear in the Fall/Winter 2014 campaign, which will make its debut in Teen Vogue.

Jacobs says he was looking to tap into “youth and energy” by going the social media route. The Beast has another take: “It was a well-played PR stunt; Jacobs accumulated plenty of free press for—let’s be honest—finding pretty people on the Internet.

“And the media ate it up, praising the campaign’s diversity and selection of ‘real people’ (apparently paid models aren’t actually human). It’s unclear whether these very real and authentic people are being paid as much (if at all) as previous faces of Marc by Marc campaigns—which includes unreal people like M.I.A. and Dakota Fanning—though we can assume that they are being compensated mostly in flattery and social cache,” the article continues.

So lots of different kinds of free publicity here. But we’re going to fall back on our previous question: How much more of this “real people” stuff will people go for?

Not to be a bore, but this has the whiff of a reality show, no? It was basically a contest to see who would end up with the grand prize — a spot in a big-time campaign. And judging by some of the people who were chosen, Marc Jacobs wasn’t looking for “real” people as in “ordinary” people. The Daily Beast’s problem with the search was that the label ended up, basically, with people who look like models. They did a search for pretty people. We’ll go a step further and agree with Oprah: if you take most anyone and give them hair, make up and fancy clothes, they’re going to be camera-ready.

Even when a lot of brands say they want “real people” in their campaigns, they’re not necessarily picking someone who looks like your neighbor. They’re choosing people who fit a picture in their head that suits their brand. They’re looking for someone who paints a stunning picture of their ideal customer. They’re plopped on a set, given great lighting, and then the brand says, “Look at the real people we have in our marketing.” Nope. It’s a construct. Just as much a figment of their branding imagination as a well-paid model who does the same exact thing.

As I’ve said before, this “real people” thing — usually “real women” — is very much a gimmick. It gets a lot of attention because people like the idea of crowdsourcing something  new, but ultimately, the image is one we’re very familiar with. But people also enjoy the chance to live a day in this life. So expect to see plenty more “real people” gracing campaigns well into the future.