05 September 2017

Death to the Product Shot

Product shots have became a default strategy on social media. Especially for brands in FMCG, alcohol and retail.

And it's a sign we've hit rock bottom. We've regressed into the lowest cost, lowest common denominator approach to social.

We've forgotten comms need a strategy and an idea. And how to think long term.

Somewhere, somehow, we convinced ourselves flatlays would create meaningful business impact.

I mean, you wouldn't even use a product shot in old school media without a price point. But I guess if you animate it as a boomerang that makes it better.

Not to say there's not a role for them. Product shots might be the reinforcement a person needs to convert further down the funnel in your content marketing engine. But you're not going to change behaviour with just a well-lit cinemagraph.

Even worse is the approach of reposting user-generated content. Usually as a product in some punter's hand. No concept. No strategy. Not even some art direction. If you think anyone's being persuaded by this except marketers you're delusional.

(Nothing against driving UGC. It leverages the real power of social - the network. It creates social norming and reach with advocacy. But that doesn't mean brands creative value in broadcasting it.)

And it's not just social publishing either. We pay "influencers" to take photos of our products. Even better if they're holding it!

(Note the deliberate use of quotation marks. Read any number of articles on bots which generate fake interactions or the concept of an 'engagement pod'.)

Or the epitome of modern advertising, paying six figures for your product to replace someone's head as a Snapchat lens. But if you open your mouth it animates so I guess there's that.

It's usually the Strategist who wants to shoot the Creative or visa versa. But we've watered down social so heavily they probably both want to put guns to their head.

How did we get here?

Definitely a lack of experienced marketers and advertising folk making decisions. More on this in another post/rant.

We're also lazy. You don't need an insight or a concept for a product shot. And the margin's healthier because of it. It's easy to get your hands on product and shoot something with decent production quality. Especially when most agencies look like converted warehouses.

Fortunately within every problem is an opportunity. The very last brief I wrote before leaving my previous agency turned into a series of product porn piss-takes:


Don't forget kids, product shots don't build brands. And you're not going to win the battle for attention without an idea.

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