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Images in advertising
|Advertisers often use targeted image manipulation to link their product with an enhanced version of reality. New, more seduct|
ive images continually replace those that are past their ‘use-by’ date, arguably with the primary aim of locking consumers into a cycle of spending and consumption.
|New, more seductive images continually replace those that are past their ‘use-by’ date…
These images are the currency of instant communication. In advertising, they sell fantasy through a range of visual cues that are quickly and easily recognised by the consumer. Meanwhile, networks like the Adbusters Media Foundation, which is based in Canada, promote alternative views, sometimes through the organised and witty use of graffiti.
Images of women have been particularly prone to corporate manipulation over the years. Is this legitimate ‘enhancement’, commercial mockery or shrewd self-promotion?
When a doctored image of actress Kate Winslet was used to advertise the January 2003 edition of men’s magazine GQ it began a media furore. Among the changes, Winslet’s legs were airbrushed – reducing their size by about a third.
Lillie Langtry (1853-1929), another society beauty and actress, was no stranger to the world of advertising and celebrity promotion. One of the world’s first pin-ups, she is said to have syndicated her name, endorsing a range of products, including Lillie Cream, Lillie Powder and Lillie Bustles.
|'Mrs. Langtry', 1890.
Here, Langtry’s upper body area has been cropped on the left hand side, giving her the superficial appearance of a more waspish curve. Conscious that her beauty was her fortune, we can only speculate as to whether she instigated this change or whether the work was done without her knowledge or permission.
Today, we view manipulated photos from the nineteenth century alongside the latest doctored digital shots. The T-Mobile Baby 2002 UK television commercial paints a picture of co-existent old and new imaging technology. A baby’s face appears on billboards, café crockery and via fax machines – from its image source, the camera mobile.Camera and video mobiles can already be plugged into computers, allowing still images and moving footage from the street to be edited and manipulated convincingly. The future remains – literally – to be seen.