Who Is The 'Realest Person On Earth'? Q&A With BeReal's Julian Hislop

BeReal, the purposefully unglamorous one-post-a-day, ad-free app, has begun looking for the “Realest Person on Earth” as part of its first-ever global brand campaign.

Through the first half of November, BeReal will be inviting its users to send in their most “authentic moments” captured on the app to compete for a spot on billboards in various major cities, cash prizes, a paid vacation, the ability to select the post time for the day, and of course, the crown.

Since its start in 2020, BeReal has become known as the “anti-Instagram” app for its focus on a more realistic representation of self by asking users to post simultaneous unfiltered glimpses into their daily lives.

To help ensure authenticity, the amount of time a user waits to snap a picture after the initial alert appears is included under their timeline photo.

The company says it has attracted 25 million daily active users across the globe, and now it wants to “celebrate the special, candid moments” that pop up on the app, whether it's watching Netflix, announcing an engagement, mountain biking, riding the train, or most likely, sitting in front of a computer in school or at work.

There will be 50 finalists, and on November 22, the public will vote on who deserves to be named the Realest Person on Earth.

For the first time in its brief history, BeReal's marketing team is speaking on the record, and MediaPost decided to learn more about the app's campaign.

Julian Hislop, BeReal's head of field marketing strategy, spoke with MediaPost about the competition, why people are not typically themselves online, the decision to use billboard ads, and how BeReal is trying to reset social media.

This interview has been edited for concision.

MediaPost: The campaign is intended to celebrate genuine moments on the app, but could competition undermine the authenticity of “being real”?

Julian Hislop: The Realest Person on Earth campaign is lighthearted fun designed to bring awareness to the reality that people are not themselves online. BeReal has been trying to change that since we launched. We believe it's the right thing to do.

That said, for a post to be considered for the Realest Person on Earth title, it has to have been taken on BeReal, and the judges -- who will narrow it down to our finalists -- will be looking for real, authentic, serendipitous moments.

MP: How are you hoping this campaign will foster further engagement on the app?

JH: We hope that the contest will encourage users to embrace and share all aspects of their lives -- from beautifully boring moments like studying for an exam to exciting adventures like going on the trip of a lifetime.

We believe there is something special captured in each. With a global campaign, particularly the voting and billboard components, we want to share this sentiment with the world.

MP: Can you tell me more about the billboards? 

JH: In an era dominated by fleeting digital ads that often blur into the periphery, billboards make a resonant statement in the real world. It doesn't get much more real than a billboard in advertising!

We also think the juxtaposition of a moment captured by a real user, without Photoshop or editing, placed next to some of the largest brands in the world's ads that do have these components makes for an interesting commentary on authenticity.

The billboards will be in the world's most popular locations, like New York City, along with major European and Asian cities.

MP: Are there any other reasons you chose this ad channel?

JH: For this campaign, we wanted to incorporate OOH because we champion genuine offline experiences, and OOH acts as a powerful reminder to lift our gaze and celebrate moments that unfold when we look up, not down.

By showcasing the winners alongside global brand heavyweights, we are not merely juxtaposing them against influencers, celebrities, and models, we are underscoring the uniqueness inherent in each individual, reaffirming that everyone deserves celebration.

MP: This campaign reminds me of BeReal's “RealPeople” feature that began testing in the UK in May. Did that feature inform this new campaign?

JH: We experimented with RealPeople. We learned a lot, and we've gone back to the drawing board with more coming soon on how we will enable interesting people -- like musicians and even brands -- to show up on BeReal. But RealPeople did not inform this campaign.

MP: What is BeReal trying to accomplish in the larger social media landscape?

JH: Social media has so much potential for good in the world, but poor incentives have made social media morph into something it doesn’t need to be -- unhealthy, toxic, and designed to make you spend all of your time needlessly scrolling.

BeReal is social media after a detox. By guarding against poor incentive structures like vanity metrics, followers, and deceitful features like filters that drive poor outcomes, we want to focus on the positives of social media.

Our platform is designed to give people the chance to connect with their friends, as they are, in real moments, each day. We are building to eliminate the contrast between real-life and online personas. Reset social media.

MP: Where will BeReal take its advertising from here?

JH: We'll have lots more exciting campaigns that experiment with how authenticity can show up in advertising and marketing…stay tuned.

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