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Sometimes the best “face” of the company is no face at all

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

Ok, I’m just going to come out and say it: Some people should just not use pictures of themselves in their advertising.  Period.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to everyone (and most certainly not anyone reading this blog). I’m not even referring to most. If the top dog is at least moderately attractive, has a trustworthy face, nice smile or other compelling feature it can be a definite benefit. After all, he (or she) is branding himself along with his company. It’s common among real estate agents, insurance agents, doctors, dentists, financial advisers, and tons of other personal businesses. And of course it makes sense.  A small business owner is the “face” of the company. Problem is, some business owners — too often the wrong ones – take that waaaay too literally.

This is actually something that has baffled me for awhile, but it’s a bit of a touchy subject. Some people clearly don’t do themselves any favors by plastering their picture on a giant billboard or the back cover of a magazine. **This is the part of the story where a visual aid would come in handy, but I just can’t.** I’m not a mean person and it’s not about specifics anyway. I honestly don’t care what my OBGYN looks like (on second thought it’s preferable he NOT be good looking). But as a marketer it’s tricky.

We always want to provide accurate and helpful strategy advice, but how do you gently break it to someone their cheesy picture should NOT be the focus of their next ad campaign?

There’s a subtle approach: “Maybe we could highlight your company logo to build consistency and brand awareness?” Or a distracting suggestion: “How about some stock photos to represent happy, satisfied customers?” Or aim for the feelings: “Perhaps a soothing, calm, uncluttered look would be the right direction for you?”

But in the end there’s only so much you can do. If the client wants to see herself front and center and has the money to do it, there’s not much that’s going to change his or her mind. And that’s a tough fact to face.

**Update – I wrote this blog Sunday evening, but for some reason was a little hesitant to post. Fear of offending the wrong person I suppose. But the next day I saw a funny segment on the Ellen Degeneres Show, and decided if Ellen could poke fun at  cheesy ads without coming across as mean maybe I could too. So I’ll use her clip as my visual aids — here are some extraordinarily cheesy realtor ads: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/videos/index.php?mediaKey=0_xhxiqnj0

 

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