The High Cost of Cheap Stock Art

I’m now older than 50, but I don’t consider myself a Boomer and I’m certainly not a senior citizen. But many marketers simply lump me into “over 50” demographic, as if all adults who are 50 to 90 years old share the same characteristics, values and beliefs.

That fact hit home on Saturday as I looked into opening a so-called 50+ checking account, and became irritated by cornball stock art depicting me as a silver-haired gardener or bicyclist, or as an irresistible romeo staring deeply into the eyes of my significant other. (A Cialis moment?)

I encountered the same “stock repulsion” while conducting focus groups with high-school students last week who could instantly distinguish photographs that looked “real” to them from stock-like images they described as “how adults think teenagers look and act.”

Knowing your target audience—beyond increasingly meaningless demographic classifications—is more important than ever. But so is depicting your audience authentically, too. Using cheap or grossly stereotyped stock art can be the most expensive decision a marketer can make.