Who’s Up for Crankin’ Out Some Content?


HERE’S WHAT DISAPPOINTS ME about the way some marketers practice social media: so many take the old “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” approach. In other words, in trying to churn out content, they believe it’s more important to say something, anything, and less important to take the time to bring value to the conversation.

My most recent example is today’s highly touted webinar by Getty Images entitled, “Femme Flux: the Latest Visual Trends Research on Marketing to Women.” Getty teased with “Discover the research and curation behind the images and video that help can help you [sic] tell your story.”

I sat for the entire presentation, and my complaint is not with the typo, but with the fact that Getty created content that had almost nothing to it. The world’s biggest stock image conglomerate offered neither the unique insights one might expect nor the up-to-date research they promised. At least there was nothing you couldn’t have come up with on your own, assuming you pay any attention at all to a little thing we call popular culture. And I’m guessing that if you’re in the marketing business, you’re kinda watching that stuff already.

For example, commenting on how men and women are visually represented in product advertising, Getty’s young presenter said, “…as much as we’re seeing women rising in the workplace, we’re seeing men rising in the household, and becoming much more involved partners.” (I guess somebody wasn’t around to see Kramer vs Kramer in 1979. Or me in the laundry room any of a number of times since then.)

I don’t blame Getty that they couldn’t curb their enthusiasm over “The Princess Dress,” a Tide commercial from January they claim “rocked the world.” (Even Adweek’s Adfreak blog called it “astounding,” but only because it “treats Dad like a normal human.” Gee, do I smell a Nobel Peace Prize?) But methinks Getty has been blinded by the light, because in their own words they reveal the breakdown in logic between what they claim the webinar will deliver and what it actually focuses on: “…for Tide to be picking up on this and showing Dad as the hero here is a real big signifier and a big change.” What’s obvious is that Getty has misinterpreted as a flux in the femme – a trending shift – what is actually a slow, careful, long-coming change in how a large marketer talks to the femme. The cart is clearly before the horse.

But more than that, Getty isn’t actually sharing their unique perspective on “trends research on marketing” but rather reporting what anyone can plainly see. In the case of the Tide commercial, it’s Procter & Gamble as a giant merchant marine ship, beginning to execute a turn 30 degrees port side. And to categorize this as a trend is inaccurate. By the time a brand as big as this one feels it’s safe to navigate toward such cultural shifts, they’re not even trends anymore. The rest of us have moved on, having long ago dropped our Kramer vs Kramer VHS tape at Half-Price Books, and now trying to assimilate twerking into the collective unconscious.

Part of the problem is that aside from their editorial or news-based imagery, stock image companies do a land-office business in The Cliché, as they cater to ad agencies, graphic designers, and web designers (not to mention creative directors like me) who are attempting to appease skittish clients with visuals unlikely to upset their customers. And so the bulk of Getty’s image searches is more a measure of what most marketers think people want to see; more the status quo than whatever trend this giant image house may have misconstrued. Compared to Beyoncé (who Getty also recognizes as a really big deal), the end users of the typical stock photo really just want to fall in and join the parade from the back, not lead from the front.

But again, my issue is with content as cannon fodder, just hurling stuff out there in a somewhat cynical effort to fill the void and buttress the brand. That Getty has in their own minds reverse engineered a corporation’s strategy to look like a consumer trend is not my complaint; they’re allowed the mistake. Unless, of course, their revelation was a fabricated one, done in a hasty attempt to crank out some content.

The photo is from the Femme Flux webinar, one cited by Getty as an example of a trend toward androgyny, because, “from behind you can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl.” I’ll only remind them that in many image searches, a common criteria is ambiguity, not androgyny, so the client’s customer can see whatever gender they want to see. More importantly, I think somebody has to go potty.

If you’d like to view it for yourself, the Getty Images webinar is here.