Ad Nauseum

The Tennessee tourism department recently hired a Memphis marketing firm to develop an ad campaign to highlight Tennessee’s mountain bike trails in an attempt to attract prospective tourists. The firm, Chandler Ehlirch, came up with a brochure and a magazine ad, the latter of which appeared in this month’s issue of “Outside.” Here’s the ad (click the photo to enlarge it):


Isn’t that cool? The first-person perspective gives you the sensation of actually being there with the bikers, who are zooming down the hills and enjoying nature. You can see the beautiful landscape in the photo, and doesn’t it just make you yearn for an outdoor adventure? Unfortunately for the Tennessee tourism department, an astute blogger noticed that the photo in that ad isn’t actually of Tennessee bike trails. No, that photo was published in a May 1997 National Geographic, and it is actually a photo of Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park. Whoops!

Here’s the original photo from the National Geographic (click the photo to enlarge it).


According to this article, Chandler Ehlirch didn’t do anything illegeal by using the photo because they actually paid for the rights to reprint it. In spite of that fact, some people seem rather upset about Chandler Ehlirch’s duplicity.

I find this whole thing very interesting. I’m sure we’ve all seen the ways that photoshop artists manipulate photos in advertisements, and I know that each of us has felt slightly disgusted at the misleading photos in fast-food restaurants. Why can’t the Taco Supreme that I order actually look like the one on the menu? Why, dammit, WHY?

At this point, do any of us really even care what claims are made in advertisements? We all know that marketers are full of shit. We know that commercials are full of shit. Pretty much any advertisement is completely full of shit, and I’m positive that most reasonably intelligent people navigate through our media-drenched culture fully aware of that fact.

And those that don’t? Well, survival of the fittest, my friend. Let them waste their money on “Head On” and vacuum cleaner attachments that cut hair.

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