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October 16, 2014 —

By now, we’re no strangers to hyper-real ads featuring “real” women, unretouched models and all-around girl power. We’ve come a long way! Aerie has stopped using Photoshop to enhance the women in its ads. Dear Kate celebrated women who work in Tech in its new underwear ad. No doubt, these brands get attention for their campaigns, and that’s wonderful. But business goals often revolve around sales. Critics of hyper-real ads argue that women need models as inspiration — for example, a flawless-skinned woman as motivation to buy face wash. So who sells the product better — Adriana Lima or a “real” woman? It’s still hard to know for sure, but here’s a tidbit of what we do know.

A study researched how women view models. Mock ads were created in which models of different ages, sizes and ethnicities modeled the same dress. The findings are astonishing:

  • Women increased purchase intentions by 200% when models in the mock ads were their size.
  • Women over a size 6 increased purchase intentions by 300% when the ads featured curvier models.
  • Women ages 35 and older increased purchase intentions by 200% when they saw models also reflected their own age.

Another study found that it’s the way the models are presented in the ad — blatantly or subtly — that matters most. According to the study, when the beauty of models is blatantly rubbed in the face of the consumer (you know … the ads where the model’s hair is so strong she can tie it in a knot), we actually develop a lower attitude toward the brand. Subtle exposure to a model’s beauty results in the opposite reaction.

So, the answer to our question depends heavily on who the target is. According to the research, consumers are more likely to purchase if ads showcase women with appearances similar to their own. It makes sense. After all, we’re the ones who will be flaunting the dress or the lip color or the bold lashes. And I’d be willing to bet we do it just as fabulously as the professional models.

Would you consider using “real” women in an ad? Would your target be motivated to purchase after seeing an average woman using your product? To continue the conversation or learn more about Frank About Women, contact Chief Marketing Officer Shaun Stripling at 336.774.939 or by email.


The Motley Fool
Huffington Post 

Catherine Goergen About the Author
Catherine Goergen Former Account Coordinator

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