Pictures are the powerful interest way to get attention. There is an old Chinese proverb, “a picture is worth ten thousands words”. Pictures play such an important part in our lives because pictures speak a universal language, they are understood easily by people in every walk of life.
Unlike the understanding of words, the understanding of pictures requires no special training. Pictures were the first means of transmitting stories and knowledge from one caveman generation to another. Crude pictures cut in stone told the story of the earliest life.
Pictures still continue to tell the story of life, death, love, and laughter to millions more effectively than does the printed or spoken words. And because of the tremendous ability of pictures to express thoughts in their simplest from, and to get attention quickly, advertisers are greatly interested in the proper use of pictures in advertising.
Among the questions advertisers ask regarding pictures are these:
What kind of pictures are best for the advertising job. Are these same that attract attention better than others? Or is a picture just a picture, all having about equal effectiveness?
One of the earlier psychologists to determine this through research was George Gallup who found that readers preferred the tested pictures in the following order:
2. Group of adults
3. Sports sciences
5. Natural scenery
Why psychologically, should such pictures have the highest attention value? The answer goes back to over basic wants, to the things we want most love of children, love of wife, social approval, superiority, peace and quiet (comfort), and longer life, both for over selves and for our family. When these basic wants are reflected in pictures, the pictures attract us immediately.
And when such pictures are combined with a sales story also build on strong basic wants, the advertiser has the kind of sales message that will attract a great number of readers. It has been noted that men and women are attracted to pictures of children, groups of adults, sports scenes, animals and natural scenery.
But when it comes to sex differences, to the question of whether men are more interested in pictures of men or pictures of woman, the answer is not what many advertising men have believed. In advertising, men look at men and women look at women. Not always or exclusively, of course, but the tendency is definitely for each sex to be most interested in its own sex in so-far as advertising is concerned.
This is the point which advertisers have been learning in recent years. In advertising each sex is more attracted to illustrations showing its own sex than to those showing the opposite sex. From both a logical and psychological point of view this is to be expected to begin with, when people look at or read an advertisement they are aware of its purpose; to sell an idea or a product.
Advertisers aren’t fooling any one about the advertisement’s purpose. Some advertisers use different “ad make up”, perhaps showing the advertisement in editorial form, comic strip form picture, caption form or some other form. But such advertisements, regardless of their “form”, are quickly recognised as ads.
Then a very rapid psychological acceptance or rejection takes place. Naturally, if man comes across of a picture of a pretty girl (even in advertisements) he probably glances at it, takes in the interesting points, and then forgets about it, just as he has forgotten the last pretty girl he saw on the street. The “pretty girl “ advertisements has only momentary attention value for men.
But suppose, now, that the picture the man sees is that of an unusually handsome fellow. First of all, his previous experience of such pictures tells him that this advertisement is most likely denoted to a product or subject of interest of men.
Second—and this is a very important reason why men are attracted to pictures of men—when any men sees a picture of a handsome or just good looking fellow, he immediately projects himself into the handsome fellow’s shoes. He identifies himself with the fellow and sees himself in the same situation.
This basic psychological reason why men look at men and women look at women is identification. Each of us is interested most in self; no one is more important to you than yourself. So when an advertisement shows a picture of someone who is handsome or beautiful, and also important looking, we identify our-self with the person in the picture.
This same psychological projection occurs with women when their attention is drawn to an attractive female in an advertisement. Women know they can’t approach the beauty of a movie star who uses lux international beauty bath soap.
Nonetheless, women like to think—although they probably won’t admit it—that they might become just a little like this glamorous creature they are looking at. There is a movie star. Psychological identification is indeed a powerful reason why men pay more attention to advertisements featuring men, and-women to advertisements featuring women.