Sunday, September 17, 2006

DO- The Face of Oblivion

The Face of Oblivion is a new post on Design Observer by Kenneth Krushel. It is a personal experience with the corporate food market and the photographic pitch behind these products.

Krushel uses his experience with cable marketing 20 years ago as a comparison. The problem with the cable market, as the corporations and investors saw it, was only penetrating 40% of households. The number had leveled off, and they were looking for ways to enter the houses of the remaining 60%. They opted for a photographic campaign in a meeting Krushel attended.

He noted that none of these people seemed extraordinary in any way. They are not people one aspires to be (he can't quite figure how they picked the people to use).

He says, if you wander the aisles of a supermarket now, you will see these same people on assorted packaging. They haven't changed in twenty years; they are still mostly white, fairly bland and cheery people. He wonders why this is still the standard for the sell. Why do we aspire to, "at least on a consumer basis, ...such fictional, even farcical lifestyles?...[A] blur of anonymity[?]"

Obviously, these photos still get to the consumer public. We identify with these bland people as a whole because they are so normal. In some way, we all strive to fit in and follow the crowd. But, I think, by seeing complete normality as utopian, we are striving to be the perfect, bland family. No black sheep, no one who sticks out from the crowd. Just purely happy.

Or, maybe we are so used to seeing the food we eat packaged with these typical photos around it, we don't want to buy anything else. Maybe we always return to what we are most comfortable with.


Blogger marydorsey said...

Gosh, I must be missing something. I never look at the packaging, only the "Nutrition Facts" on the side... how many carbs, too much fat, too many calories, enough dietary fiber, more protein??? Like most middle-aged Americans, I'm obsessed with diet and (supposed) health. I couldn't tell you one photo on any package of food in the store, but I can certainly tell you the Weight Watchers points!

10:48 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

I too haven't noticed photos on food packaging much, probably because the first thing I look at is the price and Kroger brand doesn't spend much on advertisitng. I have noticed the large photos of people behind Target's clothing racks, though. They scare me. They are too big, skinny and beautiful! I guess that suggests that photos of people grab our attention one way or another. At least Target's people represent more than white people, though! Tim, do you have any excamples of food companies that use only white models? I'm curious which ones stand out.

3:51 PM  

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