A current commercial for the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 has caught my attention and put me at unease. See the ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzV7S-DduLU
The commercial features pre-school age children playing soccer. But these kids aren’t your typical 4-year-old soccer players. They are superstars–heading the ball, passing with precision and making flashy saves and kicks. Clearly, the visuals are computer generated. (At one point in the ad text on the screen acknowledges “images simulated.”)
About 15 seconds into the 30-second spot the voice over begins:
“Introducing the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR camera. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1: fast action in a little body. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1: making small great.”
The “unique selling proposition” of the ad fits the visuals and the audio: The new Canon camera may be small, but it’s fast and powerful.
CGI and manipulated images are commonplace in advertisements. And while I am generally opposed to manipulated images in any form (yes, even in advertising), I find the image manipulation in this ad particularly troublesome.
Here’s my issue with this ad: the product being advertised is a digital camera from a long-term manufacturer of quality cameras (full disclosure: I own two Canon cameras). The long-held premise of a “camera” is the ability of the technology to capture a “truthful likeness” (to borrow a phrase from the Daguerreotype era). We champion cameras for their ability to capture “reality.” As story-tellers in the mass media profession, we rely on cameras to capture images that tell a reliable and valid story. We need photos that tell the truth. Yet in this ad, the product (the camera itself) is being advertised based on a series of fictitious images. That’s not truth in advertising.
And it’s not supporting the “common objective of truth and high ethical standards in serving the public” purported to by the American Advertising Federation.
Header image courtesy of a still frame from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzV7S-DduLU