Marketing commentary: does your target audience need to be reflected in your imaging?

This week we’re off working on a collateral visual for a major piece of our business.  The marketing team has done its homework:

1.       The creative brief is on strategy

2.       The advertising agency was briefed appropriately

3.       First round creative work came in generally on strategy – for first draft.

As the team was reviewing these pieces with me, we landed on an execution that featured a person.  Someone asked a relevant question… should the image of the person look like our target audience???

I have to admit, that I haven’t thought about that recently, so it inspired me to write this blog, provide my opinion and hopefully get other marketers to weigh in.

There are clearly positives and negatives to the decision at hand…


  • Target audience is able to relate to the image (we like people like ourselves).
  • If you’re showing “how to” advertising, it makes it more credible that they too can do it.
  • It’s a safe bet… your creative will have limited downside and you’ll likely stay on messaging strategy.



  • Chances are, like in my competitive framework, everyone is already doing this – just pick up a trade publication to confirm.
  • You’re very limited in your creative execution.  S  h  a  c  k  l  e  s  ! 
  • You’re also limited to express creatively, since your subject is your customer.



The goal of creative is to first of all achieve stopping power.  Second, if it’s not differentiated, I don’t see much value in creating ads or images – you might as well buy stock art for a lot cheaper.  Weighed by these as the primary factors, I don’t typically recommend featuring your target audience in your advertising. 

I could go on… but to be honest with you, these are the cardinal rules in my book.  The negatives simply do not outweigh the positives. 



Good marketing!




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