From Cave Drawings to Instagram- Using Photos to Tell a Story is Nothing New


Ever since early humans picked up rocks and etched an ox onto their cave walls, we have been attracted to good story telling through pictures. Fast-forward a few million years and the “cave wall” is now the social media feeds that we access every day. The wild popularity of photos on social media and in our ad campaigns demonstrates that while we’re no longer dressing like Fred Flintstone, we are still drawn to appealing visual stories.  This has led to great marketing tools for creatives who have successfully found a way to mesh the art of storytelling and photo sharing together.

When brands use photo sharing to connect to an audience they are usually looking to tap into an emotion. Whether it is joy, pain, triumph, or excitement, campaigns are enhanced by more than just words when photos connect with a feeling.

We’d like to share a few examples from popular brands that we think do a great job at combining simple photos with powerful campaigns:

 Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL) Instagram Campaign:


Everyone knows that Instagram is a great social media platform for sharing personal photos, and when brands use it, powerful connections with customers are made. This Autumn, Starbucks has used the power of Instagram to encourage real-life drinkers of the pumpkin spice latte to share their photos and connect by using #PSL. As a direct result, a viral marketing frenzy was born. Not only did Starbucks connect with their customers by asking them to share their personal photos featuring the lattes, but they also integrated a collage of the Instagram images into their national ads. Through this effort, customers felt as though their personal stories mattered to the brand and were likely to feel more connected to their delicious seasonal cup of Joe.

IKEA Creates Holiday Ads To Connect With Families:


In this ad for IKEA, there is little copy but the message conveyed in the ad is clear: love your home. At first glance, the viewer will notice the word “love” spelled out by the IKEA furniture and models, but the marketing strategy is really appealing to the viewer’s emotional connection to home. The ad is framed this way so that the viewer feels as though he/she is getting a private look into a family’s living room through the birds-eye photograph.  Viewers are instantly gratified as parents with children can identify with two siblings playing by a holiday fireplace.  Instantly, IKEA becomes associated with warm emotions from the viewer and a connection to the brand is made.

RedBull Uses Instagram to Support Their Brand’s Authenticity:


Photo Credit:

RedBull is a brand that is notorious for appealing to adventure seekers who require a lot of energy. The strategy that they have adopted on their social media channels uses photos to showcase landscapes, sports and individuals who exemplify an active lifestyle.  RedBull has clearly adopted the “show not tell” philosophy for connecting with their consumers, and it worked (with nearly 1million followers on their account).  Consumers begin to connect the thrilling images with the brand which directly makes them excited to drink the product.


Using imagery to attract audiences is a vital part to any marketing, advertising, or social media campaign in today’s shareable media environment.  Photos are easily understood, widely accepted, and a great garnish to a written story.  When brands want a medium to share their voice without using text, photos sharing platforms are a great option for a viral campaign. Because a photo can really be worth a million words, we always strive to find images that powerfully communicate our clients’ overall brand propositions.

What photos do you find most powerful? Let us know @Ebben_Zall


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