The stack of magazines was impressive. Elle, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit and People. As a 13-year old, I just wanted to fixate and rip, fixate and rip, fixate and rip. Slowly, I was adding to my expanding wall collection, and I was proud. How were the ‘best’ images selected, and what made them ‘iconic’? What mattered to me at the time—creativity, originality, colour, composition—made it onto my closet doors, locker and school binder clear insert. If I could think of these images in my sleep, they became iconic. I will never forget one in particular. The triangular red and white logo juxtaposed against a black and white photograph of a girl pouting while a man anticipates…
What intrigues us about this image? Almost instantly, we find ourselves peering in, linked to the experience. We sense she is in the wrong place; however, we do not feel that she does not belong or would rather be elsewhere. Time and space are interrupted. We ask ourselves, “Will it occur?” But the chain of events does not matter. What matters is that we are suspended in a rare and captivating moment. And because the image is black and white, we are transported to the exact scene where the ‘film’ unravels. Then the bold red of the typeface and the logo bring us back to life, and we are suddenly alive; the advertisement has won us over…without a guess!
If we know that people can impact an ad’s efficacy, should we consider using people on food packaging? Could we use the interaction between a man and a woman on a coffee bag, for example? In my opinion, yes. Imagine this. A tired corporate executive finds herself standing in a Whole Foods Market. There is no one around. Soft music flutters in and out of her ears. She is standing in the coffee aisle, looking at bags and bags and bags. There’s so much unique packaging, she’s not sure what to choose. But then she sees it—a couple set in black and white. The photograph is beautiful; the packaging seems bound by eternal love as the image wraps fully around the product. It portrays something the executive longs for on a deeper level. “I’ll go for this,” she thinks, grabbing it to pay.
Using people in ad imagery is not a new concept, but could potentially be an innovative idea in the food and beverage domain. We know that ads are geared to make us think and feel. And there’s a whole range of themes emotional ads can trigger, from love to empathy to excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever spent valuable time and money on a product that didn’t trigger an emotion somehow. Even if it may go unrecognized—the power and influence of an emotional experience are unforgettable.
Should packaging portray a feeling using images of people? And if so, what are the most effective ways this can be executed?