The Power of a Photograph- What it makes consumers do!

September 27, 2022

The world is going through the new era in which massive flow of information is consumed and shared; which has been exacerbated by the use of internet. The problem, however, is consumers are busy, and they have limited time for such a significant amount of information and offerings. A recent study from Microsoft shows that the average attention span of people dropped from 12 seconds to only eight seconds (McSpadden, 2015). As a result, it became imperative for marketers to find a way of creating information that is interesting enough to capture consumer attention. Marketers swiftly discovered that an efficiently processed piece of information can help them capture consumers attention; pictures. Therefore, pictures have become the critical solution in modern marketing to adapt to the new and changing phenomenon.

As a result, we are surrounded by imagery; whether it be in stores, social media or mainstream media and much of it is used to advertise products or services. Photographs play an important role in advertising and marketing because it can tell a story. Nowadays, consumers are very visual based – therefore, images that stand out can really capture their attention, so much so that effective advertising photos may persuade consumers to purchase something that consumers do not really need.

The quote “A picture is worth a thousand words” has never been more accurate in the field of content marketing. Product photographs are a vital part of any social/mainstream media campaign. As mentioned above, consumers have limited amount of time for traditional marketing, which relied heavily on text-only product descriptions. Accordingly, a powerful, robust product photography strategy is a fundamental approach to win this information competition, gaining more engagement with consumers and increasing brand awareness. However, at times certain businesses get carried away in the bid to win this information competition and end up ‘pimping up’ the pictures and other visuals which results in misleading consumers.

Sales Online – Facebook
Facebook plays a vital role in the sale of products. More than 80% of people in Fiji use Facebook (StatCounter 1999-2022) and this is one platform where products are advertised and sold. You will find many online selling pages with fantastic pictures used to catch your attention. However, consumers need to be very vigilant because as the saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. For instance, a picture advertising a bright colored brand-new dress may turn out to be a dull, unappealing dress in reality.

Furthermore, the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) continuously receives complaints relating to similar issues whereby pictures used in advertisements tend to mislead consumers and their expectations. In the last 12 months, the Council has received 63 complaints with the monetary value of $14,724.35 relating to misleading advertisements. A bulk of these complaints relates to the use of pictures which does not fully or inaccurately represents the product or services.

Case study
A consumer was browsing on her social media platform looking for a good photography service provider to capture the special moment during her wedding day. She came across a page which had advertised excellent pictures that enticed her to hire the company. However, when she received her pictures after the wedding day, the consumer was left disappointed as the pictures were nowhere close to what was advertised.

What does the Law say?
Under the FCCC Act 2010, any individual who publishes an advertisement to promote a business that contains a misleading or false statement of fact shall be guilty of an offense.

Techniques used to draw your attention:

The Emotive Hook
The most powerful connection between customers and products is an emotional one. If a business can create a photograph that conjures up a mental image such as a happier life, a better home, or a fond memory, rather than just showcasing the product, the customer will form an emotional link and be far more likely to make a purchase. This is not always limited to purchasing- it can be putting a photo of a child and asking for donations.

Common misconception
The common misconception most consumers have is that misleading advertisements using photos may only come into play when consumers are purchasing items from overseas using online platforms. More so, it can also be an issue when consumers follow social media pages of local shops and supermarkets and are quickly enticed by the photos uploaded which look glamorous from the offset.

This can be applicable to items such as shoes, clothing, mobile phone and accessories, car accessories, and even in restaurants. It is usually the quality that falls below the consumer expectations and does not match the marketing pictures

How many times have you come across a scenario where the food displayed in a restaurant is not the same as the dish which is delivered to your table?

Case study
BBC News reported in May this year that a New York man filed a lawsuit against two prominent fast-food chains in the world, claiming that misleading adverts make their burgers look bigger than they actually are. The man was seeking $50 million in damages for himself and other similarly duped customers.
Following this, more unhappy consumers then signed up for the suit, and many of them claimed that the burgers on the display screens are at least 15% larger than they are in real life. Interestingly, regulators in the United Kingdom banned an advert involving another prominent fast-food company in 2010, upholding complaints that the chain’s chicken sandwiches were much smaller than advertised.

Responsibility of Traders
• Ensure the photo used in the advert is a close resemblance to the actual product.
• Do not omit key information – All relevant information, including significant conditions to an offer, should be made clear in the ad itself. These should be stated close, or clearly linked, to the main claim.
• Do not exaggerate the capability or performance of a product – Advertising is all about presenting a product in the best possible light, but don’t over-claim in a way that’s likely to mislead.
• Be careful of claims in product names – Remember that all ad content, including your company or product names, can count as potential claims. If your product name implies an unproven effect or benefit, this could be problematic – even if it appears in a pack shot.

Consumer responsibility
• Do NOT always believe what you see. Pictures can also lie. Traders would always want you to buy a product hence they will use the best picture possible. Make sure to research, request more additional information and consult family and friends regarding the product/business concerned.
• Always check reviews and ratings. It is necessary to hear out what other consumers are saying. In case the pictures were misleading, someone is bound to write about it.
• Check if the picture is authentic. For instance, in regards to joinery work; go and inspect some of the work advertised or ask someone who has used the businesses services.
• Finally, it is also your responsibility as a consumer to report such practices to the Council via:

✓ The Consumer Council of Fiji Mobile App (available on Google Play Store only);
✓ National Consumer Helpline Toll Free Number 155;
✓ Email:;
✓ Complaints portal on; or
✓ Visit our offices at Level 5, Vanua Arcade, Victoria Parade, Suva or Suit 4 Popular Building, Vidilo Street, Lautoka or Level 1, Raza Properties Limited, Naseakula Road, Labasa.