Monthly Trends: Consumer Brands Pledge to “Keep It Real”


By Callie Gisler
The Hoffman Agency, Portland-Vancouver

What’s the latest in public relations? Each month, the Hoffman team tackles an upcoming trend in the communication industry.

A significant number of publications have received flack recently for Photoshopping cover stars and models. But the criticism goes beyond that. Many consumer brands have also been targeted for Photoshopping models in advertisements, catalogs and product images.

Those retailers and brands might be heading for a change, however. Companies like ModCloth are pledging “no” to Photoshop in support of the 2014 Truth in Advertising Act and The Brave Girls Alliance.

The act would require the Federal Trade Commission to implement “a strategy to reduce the use … of images that have been altered to materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals depicted.”

Clothing brand Aerie made a similar promise earlier this year. Other retailers and consumer brands are lining up to take the pledge as well. 

Sure, featuring untouched models is a powerful advertising strategy. But it doesn’t stop there. The commitment is also an important move toward the relationship between a brand and its customers.

That commitment says, “We believe in fair representation of our product, and more importantly, the audiences we serve.”

Looking at an untouched advertisement feels more relatable and approachable. But it also reminds consumers like me that a specific brand is trying its hardest to represent and relate to me as a real person.

The pledge to “keep it real” is one important way for brands to commit to an honest and transparent relationship with their customers.

What do you think of untouched photos appearing in today’s advertising? Let us know in a comment below.

Photo Credit: By Adco [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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