11 October 2010

If an ad guy and a photo stylist played rock, paper, scissors; who'd win?

If I were selling a product and I wanted to show it to the world I'd hire an ad agency to help me come up with a message and an overall feel for my product. Then I'd get a photographer and a stylist to work with my agency and me to help me sell more of my products by making my product look good. That's the way things work, right?

So if these are my product photos, what do you suppose I'm selling?

Am I selling moody young women in uncomfortable shoes? Am I selling army surplus blankets? Men's suits? Apathetic young men? The answer is none of the above. I'm selling this vanity and integrated mirror. I think.

How about this one. What am I selling in this photo?

No, I'm not selling dissatisfaction, I'm selling these pieces of furniture.

This photo from the same series, shows the product at least. Well, part of it anyway.

Honestly, I don't understand spending this kind of money on a photo shoot after spending years developing a product line. Why go to the trouble of a photo shoot when you you don't photograph the product you're selling?

Really, I understand art. I understand commerce too and the two can coexist. I don't know, maybe it's just me being cranky and pragmatic. But do product shots where the product is out of frame and out of focus do the basic job of a product photo? Namely, sell more products. Would you buy a vanity you couldn't see?


  1. That baffles me too. They do the same things in women's magazines when selling clothing. A lot of the time you can't even see the garment because the shot is so vague or focused on everything but what the model is wearing.

  2. Oh, damn. I guessed "STD treatment cream" for the first set of photos.

  3. Melody: And just as is the case with women's fashions, the products in question here are expensive, of high quality and they look good. I don't get it.

    Raina: The woman's even in the correct position for an STD cream ad in the first photo. Brilliant!

  4. What did Don Draper retort when Peggy said "sex sells?"

    People who say that don't understand what we do and can't do what we do... or something like that.

    Sex sells sex, not product. It's lazy design.

  5. Wow you nailed this. The product placement is terrible. And I agree with Melody, most of the photos in high style fashion mags are all about the art not selling the clothes. Why do they try to make the models look as uncomfortable as possible? And if sex sells, why would anyone be interested in people that look totally bored and full of hate. Not the kind of relationship I want.

  6. Thanks Sue. I can almost understand fashion shoots because they're selling a feeling as often as not. But bath furniture?

  7. I thought I was so smart for getting the first one right. But how was I supposed to get the second one WHEN I COULDN'T EVEN SEE THE PRODUCT!
    I totally agree they can coexist. Maybe I'm too logical(?) but I like to see the product they are advertising.
    Call me crazy.

  8. I mean, it's not as if they have anything to hide. It's attractive stuff.

  9. Well, at first I thought those things on her ankles were ropes. But I knew that wasn't the product. But by the 2nd photo I knew it was the mirror because it's got a glow to it. But what's the message - buy this mirror so you can watch yourself not having sex with an underfed girl?
    For the 2nd set, I guessed either sunglasses or plate-glass windows. But I like the furniture. I'd prefer to see that instead of worrying about those anorexic girls who need to eat.

  10. I do understand not quite showcasing the product. They're selling a mood. Or at least they're trying to.

    But the first one is offensive: half naked (f-me shoes, though, check) nubile woman on bed, gazed at by suit. But I'm not sure what offends me most: the sexism or the utter lack of originality and creativity.

    Raina Cox's answer above, however, is very creative!

  11. I guess that's what the "AD MEN" get paid the big bucks for. I gotta admit I have felt profound appreciation for a masterful commercial, almost (not quite) art.

  12. Alexandra: I think you're supposed to think they're ropes.

    Andrea: You're right. It's not sex they're selling it's woman-as-helpless object and it is offensive.

    Gloria: I used to be an ad guy so I get what's going on here. I'm just shocked the client let it get so far afield.

  13. This absolutely cracked me up, especially since I used to be in marketing. I tell you, it's a contest to see who can be the most whacked out. I swear! LOL

  14. It does seem to be some kind of a contest. Thanks for your comment and welcome to K&RD!

  15. Sorry, but maybe I'm from 'the old-school of thought' (key word is thought).
    I would like to see the product pleeeeease!


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