Back in the day (the day apparently being 2005), I started working as the Director of Marketing for a mortgage company. If it sounds really stimulating, you might be right. You might also be very, very wrong.
I was quickly schooled in the creation of marketing collateral which for things like FHA loans and first-time homebuyers can be very creatively challenging. Since all that stuff is federally regulated, you have to be careful about not only the words you use but also the photos you choose, specifically because of race, age, and gender. You’d never want to imply, for example, that a hispanic couple might need a no-documentation loan vs. a nice white couple.
On the other hand, you did want to be inclusive of all different types of families. These were actually some of the stock photos we used back then. Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and get a mortgage for the house of your dreams?
While searching for exactly the perfect photo, I came across some are you kidding me? photos. We laughed and even tried to incorporate them into marketing material as a joke. Unfortunately, the loan officer we were working with did not get the joke and loved it.
That was the last time I tried marketing humor on them.
I was reliving those unhappy marketing memories once I came across Adweek’s article on ridiculous corporate stock photos from the new movie Unfinished Business starring Vince Vaughan. I’d like to say they’re genius but I’m not sure if you’d agree. I’m not sure you’d find the humor in them. Maybe you would think they were fabulous just like that loan officer did.
So I’m going to put you to the test. You tell me what you think of the following real and staged stock photos and see if you get the joke.
“Dammit, Leroy. I’m telling you, these computers are a fad. You’ll never have a career as a Data Processor. And you look terrible in pin stripes.”
“This bar graph makes absolutely no sense but in a corporate situation, we’ll always act like it indicates an increase in sales. Plus, I’m smiling.”
“I’m telling you, these paninis are out of this world. The real question is: should you get turkey or ham?”
“I’m sorry, Bob. I can’t stay for lunch. I have to go get my hair frosted.”
“We’re all clapping for the COO because she just said something fabulous but I’m still pissed that she cut our funding for K-Cups in the break room.”
“Hey guys, let’s all throw our multi-colored folders for no apparent reason! Wait, Larry, are you drunk again?”
“Let’s see, we’ve got a man, a woman, an African-American, and an older woman who could pass for Latina. We’re good in the diversity department!”
“We’re the Marketing department. That’s why we do really clever things like stand with a picture frame in front of us. We’re creative. Don’t mock our brightly colored shirts.”
“Because I’m a suave corporate guy in a suit. THAT’S why.”
So did you pick out the real corporate stock photos from those that are simply a movie promo? Yeah, Vince Vaughan might have given it away. But I hope at least you have some sympathy for what I had to work with. In 2005.
Next time you make fun of a marketing person, just remember they, too, might have had a limited budget with which to be creative.