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Do you see the big picture? The power of imagery in marketing

Claire Mason, MD of Man Bites Dog, highlights the extraordinary power the right image can have on your marketing message

In 1972, the shutter closed on a 70mm camera 28,000 miles above the Earth. In that instant, history was made. The resulting photograph, taken by Apollo 17 astronauts, would become one of the most influential images of the 20th Century.

The picture, entitled ‘Blue Marble’, was the first photograph to show our planet from a new perspective – in its entirety, from space, in vivid colour. Not only did it change the way people viewed the planet, but for many it inspired new ways of thinking about the world and their place in it.

The truism that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is borne out by science. Half of all neural tissue deals with vision in some way, accounting for two-thirds of all the brain’s electrical activity.

Images grab our attention because we’re hard-wired to respond to them. They engage us emotionally in a way that no headline ever can.

They put complex issues in perspective, pun intended. And now, in the age of social sharing, images can travel further than ever before, at unimaginable speed. Photographs accounted for 75 per cent of all content posted and 87 per cent of shared posts on Facebook in 2014.

Silly season became less so when the picture of two trophy hunters posing over the body of Cecil the lion went viral and became one of the most recognisable images of the summer. The previously abstract issue of African wildlife conservation was pushed to the forefront and became immediate, personal and named.

More recently, the stirring image of Aylan Kurdi, a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy, became the tipping point in public and political opinion on the Syrian refugee crisis, having an equally arresting impact on front pages and news feeds. Amidst the deluge of suffering, this is the picture that spoke to everybody across the globe. It is  the picture that might just change the world, or a corner of it.

An image can do so much more than just illustrate your message. The right image can be the message itself and our most powerful tool in creating change.