Vishal Khanna


The 2015 Content Marketer of the Year, I build scalable digital and content marketing engines for brave, innovative brands.

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Vishal Khanna

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Thoughts on Content

What Is Authentic Marketing?

May 28, 2015

“We are looking ahead, as is one of the first mandates given us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make relate to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come. What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have?”

– Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation

What is authentic marketing? What does it mean to sell and be real at the same time?

Marketing as we know it is either about disrupting a normal flow to your chosen, branded tributary or positioning your brand in the way of water’s constant flow. It is about influencing the public and private dialogues of your target audiences and using your power – whether that power comes from your brand’s existing clout, your advertising budget, your clever agency or your multi-tiered, multi-targeted, multi-metro best-ever campaign – to change behavior.

Yes, your campaign is the best thing ever; it is a well-oiled and beautiful marketing machine. But to what end? And is your machine a variant of the same machines of the generations of marketers before you? Is it already a past tense strategy, a shadowy remnant of something once called consumer capitalism?

In early 2015, a St. Louis’ marketing agency helped the GMO titan Monsanto launch a major campaign to appear open and transparent to consumers through TV and digital channels. They enveloped the campaign tightly within an air of authenticity; they played a risky hand of cards in a new space between the affectation of product and the heart of introspection. It is ingenious and it is false and it is prohibitive to the future we must demand for our profession.

In marketing, which is our chosen lives, we have to take sides. We have to choose a point of view. Authentic marketing, then, is using your trade, these skills you have woven from years of experience in the trenches, to amplify your plea for the world you want to help create. And if your brand does not match that plea, then it is your brand and not your plea that should change.

Authentic marketing is believing in and fighting for your brand to be the promise you and I must offer the seventh generation to come. It is taking on the roles of agents of change and not agencies for the vain.

The 2015/2016 Content Marketer of the Year, Vishal Khanna heads digital marketing for an accelerator that revolutionizes how academia and industry partner to discover new drugs and one of the fastest growing downtown innovation districts in the world.