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Enterprising Thoughts

  • Putting Your Photo In Your Ad

    Published on October 1, 2010.

    If you read regional magazines, you may notice what appears to be an increasing trend of advertisers putting their own photos in their ads. Certainly this is not a new phenomenon, especially among egotistical entrepreneurs (you may remember the commercials with the guy who actually looked like the chicken he was selling).

    In a recent edition of a south Jersey slick magazine, of the 116 ads in the issue, 24 or 21 percent carried the advertiser’s personal photo. Medical oriented advertisers won a photo finish with attorneys 12 to 10. The other two “see me in my ad” advertisers were a financial planner and the owner-operator of a cleaning service.

    Do such ads work? Effective print ads are supposed to (1) attract the readers’ attention, (2) state the benefits of the product or service and (3) motivate action. Some of us in the marketing craft fail to see how the client’s photo (assuming he or she is not a celebrity) does any of the foregoing.

    One suspects that these ads are mostly publication-created rather than being part of a strategy crafted by an ad agency. Probably the offer to put the entrepreneur’s photo in an ad is an easy sell to a marketing challenged entrepreneur because it appeals to the ego. Granted, some owners featured ad campaigns make those entrepreneurs famous (as noted above), but this is dependent on the considerable reach and frequency of the advertising. An ad four times a year in one publication will not produce fame, although infamy is possible if the ads are shocking or offensive, but we saw none such in any of the publications we read.

    So, if you are an entrepreneur who wants to effectively sell a product or service through advertising, know that the first two objectives are awareness and understanding, which should be followed by repetition of the benefits and a clear “call to action.”

    Is a personal photo, especially a staid portrait shot, really a good use of the ad’s real estate? If the advertiser is “hot” or a “hunk,” there is some attention-gaining potential. If one of the purposes of the ad is to emphasize the ethnicity and/or the sex of the advertiser, a photo is worth those proverbial “thousand words.”

    Otherwise, you are just feeding your ego. But, as Seinfeld famously said, “Not that there is really anything wrong with that,” but it is not effective advertising.