Are we "abroad" yet?

A Global Marketing Blog – Because "abroad" is a place that doesn't exist.

Stock photo clichés to avoid

Stock photos are great. They allow people in advertising to tap into an infinite source of new images without the cost of a photo shoot. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of  reusing the same images everyone has been using… since the 80’s. Here are a few classics that worked very well for a while, and then became clichés.  Avoid these like the plague, and use them as a starting point from which to find more creative, interesting angles to differentiate your product.

Family on the beach:

Family at the beach

The cliché:

A mom and dad, a boy and a girl. They are usually white, and they often also wear white.
Sometimes they are walking hand in hand; sometimes they are running or, for a high-energy shot, jumping! They look happy and successful. They never curse or pass gas. Their favorite ice cream? You can be sure it’s vanilla.


– Keep an open mind: Families come in different formations, and people come in different shapes, clothing styles and ethnicities.
– Portray people doing what they usually do: making a sandcastle, swimming, having a snack, taking a picture.  
– The matching outfits are a tough one. It’s best to look for situations where at least one of the family members expresses their unique personality.



Business manThe businessman

The cliché:

Airlines and banks commit this faux paus way too often. Whenever the ad calls for a “businessperson” or a “frequent traveler”, here we go with the boring old man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Boring!


– Women work, save money and travel for business. Do you want their business? Touché.
– Businessmen aren’t always wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. And please don’t keep the guy in a suit and make him ride a skateboard to show he’s edgy and cool.



PoolBusinessman relaxing during a business trip

With his feet in the pool, he risks dropping his laptop into the water, with no backup for tomorrow’s presentation. Would you risk it? I wouldn’t.

– How do you relax during a business trip? You put your phone away, sit at the bar and have a beer. Or go for a walk. Or maybe you go buy shoes at the unique store your local contact introduced you to.



SpaWoman at the spa

She has her eyes closed, has stones on her back, and a flower in her hair. I would like to be her, so relaxed. Actually I would prefer hanging at the spa with a couple of girlfriends, sipping bubbly and getting my nails done.

– Can “spa time” in ads be a bit more fun and colorful?



MomWorking Mom

She is so overwhelmed, juggling it all, and watch out because she’s angry as hell. Poor thing! And when is that baby growing up? In these pictures it’s always a baby, never a teenager, which would probably justify all that  rage.

– Working moms are a massive share of the population and most of them probably have their thing together and are happy. Can we deal with it?







Dad helping at home

This guy is a mess, but he is so adorable and he is trying so hard. So clumsy! How did this guy even manage to land mom?

– Stay-at-home dads, or dads helping with household chores in general,  are also successful people who take care of their families. Can we deal with it?

These are a few examples of imagery used in marketing materials everywhere. People can easily understand what these images mean. But do they differentiate your brand? They don’t. Stock photos are not the enemy; they are easily available and very affordable. Take the challenge and look a bit deeper. There’s great photography out there that can give you a unique look, if you’re willing to match the pictures to the way consumers live and work… starting with what they actually wear to go to the beach.


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This entry was posted on September 2, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .


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