Misleading Salon Advertising
By: Chris Fox, Co-director of Taboo Hair Salon - Wellington.
Photo Below - Selection of stock photos from the istockphoto web site.
We've all heard the saying "A picture is worth a thousand words". Often consumers like us rely heavily on photographs in advertising to give us an accurate visual understanding of the products or services being marketed to us. We expect these images to be true and correct - don't we, but are they?
I notice that many hair salon web sites, seem to use a lot of third-party
stock photos in their web pages to visually enhance their salon's image.
However, is the use of these commercially bought images potential misleading and deceiving to the general public.
What do I mean exactly? Ok, lets say you're searching on the internet for a great hairdresser. You come across a hair salon website with professional photographs of beautiful models with fantastic hairstyles, professionally
cut, coloured and styled.
Of course, you are naturally lead to believe that these fashionable models have just come from that particular salon, right? Although they don't say
it directly, theoretically they're implying that they have proudly done
this particular model(s) and that this is high quality standard of their hairdressing abilities. So you innocently and understandably assume that this is their photograph, their workmanship - don't you?
So what are stock photos?
Stock photo companies like istockphoto.com and gettyimages.com have huge libraries of royalty free (or rights managed) photographs which businesses
or individuals can purchase online and download for use in their own advertising, web site, brochures, etc.
I personally had two concerns about using stock photos for our web site and advertising. First of all, I felt that displaying photographs of models modeling hairstyles that weren’t actually done by us was potentially misleading, unless it was specifically stated or labeled otherwise.
Secondly, I really wondered whether using such stock photos could actually hurt the salon's image and credibility rather than help it. I think that people are coming more suspicious of website content and advertising generally.
For instance, if a small regional hair salon has professional Vogue magazine style photos of gorgeous models displayed on their web site. I think most people would be inclined to question whether it is actually the salon's work or not.
I know I would, how about you?
I see many of the same stock photos appearing over and over again on many NZ hair salon web sites. It funny really, how so many salon owners seem to all pick the same images for their salon's website. Hey If I was them, I'd find that really embarrassing.
Recently, I did a search for the keyword term "hair" on the istockphoto website. I recongnized several stock photos in the results that were currently being used by Wellington salon web sites. Even one of which was also being used in their Wellington yellow pages advert. After looking at the photos profile info (photographers details, etc), I learnt that all of the photographers of the photos in question were located overseas - surprise, surprise.
It makes me laugh really.
However, I don’t believe that salons deliberately set out to manipulate and deceive the public by using stock photos. The main reason they use them is because they're relatively inexpensive and convenient, as opposed to the more expensive option of organizing a studio photo shoot with a professional photographer, models, make-up, etc. Which may not be in the salon budget.
Nevertheless, I think that salons should be careful in the way they use and portray these photos, which of course isn't their own work. As it could possibly be considered false advertising from the publics perspective.