The whole concept behind stealth marketing is to have your ads masquerade as something else. In the latest case, the Wall Street Journal reports, it’s social media campaigns mimic Smartphone pix.

Why Ads Are Imitating the Photos in Your Smartphone

Roxanne Rohmann hates ads and avoids them on TV and online. But recently, she “liked” a promotional photograph from designer Michael Kors that she found on Facebook, of a woman on a boat in a cable-knit sweater.

“I don’t feel so much like they’re trying to sell something,” the 20-year-old Austin, Texas, student says of the photo, which looked like it was shot with a smartphone. “It’s easier to appreciate.”

As people spend less time looking at glossy magazine ads and TV commercials, lifestyle advertising is adopting the look and feel of the images consumers find most compelling—the ones they shoot themselves using smartphone cameras and then share on websites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Burberry, Coach and Tiffany are some of the fashion brands that have hired a famous street-style photographer to create digital ad campaigns that get shared on Facebook and YouTube and other websites.

Money quote:

Clients aren’t trying to save money by using social-media-style photography. Ads with these photos often cost as much to create as a traditional lush photo shoot.

The point is to manufacture glamour that doesn’t seem manufactured. Consumers “like” your ad, share it with friends, and soon it has a life of its own, bouncing around social-media sites at no extra cost.

As long as you don’t count the cost of tearing down the wall between advertising and non-advertising content.

Not to get technical about it.



John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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