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Topic section: Images in advertising
Images in advertising
Advertisers often use targeted image manipulation to link their product with an enhanced version of reality. New, more seduct
New, more seductive images continually replace those that are past their ‘use-by’ date…
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.
Picture: tommy.jpg
Tommy Hilfiger 'Follow the flock'.
Credit: Image courtesy

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.

Picture: langtry.jpg
'Mrs. Langtry', 1890.
Credit: NMPFT
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.

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.
Picture: calvinklein.jpg
Reality for Men.
Credit: Image courtesy

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.
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Topic section: Images of ourselves
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Mainstream celebrity culture thrives on youthfulness, beauty, health, wealth and social connections. Celebrities tread a fine line between controlling the exploitation of their image and being exploited by it. Glamour photography, Hello and OK!-style magazines and the paparazzi offer varying ways of perceiving celebrity.  > more

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Topic section: Images as evidence
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The news constantly reminds us of the importance of the image in politics. Joseph Stalin and other dictators have often manipulated images. Illusionists and con-men have also realised that doctored images could be a powerful weapon in their armoury.  > more
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