Quick Read: We love ourselves so much that even the Mona Lisa could use our face to appear more engaging to us. No, seriously! But does that tell us something about the future of advertising?
You stand in front of the Mona Lisa, only this version is around three times the size of the original and has a blue sphere on a shelf that juts out from the painting.
In the blue sphere – called the Gazing Ball – you see a reflection of yourself naturally juxtaposed against the Mona Lisa.
As part of this exhibition, Jeff Koons has taken 35 masterpieces, had them repainted in oil on canvas, added a little shelf, painted as if it had sprouted directly from the image and added the Gazing Ball on top of that.
(Jeff Koons with the Gazing Ball (da Vinci Mona Lisa).Photograph: Fruity MacGuinty)
Presenting his artworks, Koons (fancily) says that while the gazing ball “represents the vastness of the universe and at the same time the intimacy of right here, right now, this experience is about you, your desires, your interests, your participation, your relationship with this image.”
Now, is the joke here on us or is it on Leonardo da Vinci that even in the master piece we have to be able to see ourselves in order to evince a higher level of curiosity and appreciation- the heady mix that all artists crave for?
Pop-culture has become more narcissistic in recent decades. And we, being the most narcissistic species on the planet, obviously help perpetuate the trend even further.
The Doppelgänger Effect
Popular wisdom tells us that opposites attract. But as this post suggests, all we need to do is just take a look around us and bear witness to the thousands of couple twins, boyfriend twins, celebrity couple lookalikes and even facial recognition dating sites, and we’ll start to realize that what we might be most attracted to is, well, ourselves.
Today there is mounting scientific evidence to prove that we are friendlier to people who look like us.
And this has interesting ramifications on advertising.
One knows that it’s easy to algorithmically construct an ‘average face’ – a composite image that averages the faces of any given sample of people.
(Image Source: Averageness – wikipedia)
(In fact earlier this year, Benetton used this approach to algorithmically construct a ‘Face of the City‘ for each of 6 global capitals in order to celebrate their status as a melting pot of various races and cultures. Video here.)
In the same way one can construct a composite morph using weighted average of individual faces. For example, the ‘Tiger Morph’ below is a weighted average of a stock model face and that of Tiger Woods.
(Image Source: Personalized Face Composites for Implicitly Targeted Marketing)
Using similar means what if a social network were to subtly blend our profile picture – almost on the fly- with that of a brand’s spokesmodel to make online ads more attractive?
Would these ‘Personalized Face Composites’ be more credible as spokesmodels in the ads?
And would such ads be more effective in increasing our purchase intent?
And let’s not even get started on user privacy. (Yes, I am looking at you Facebook!)
Welcome to the world of visceral targeting.
(H/T Austin Kleon: Jeff Koons Gazing Ball. H/T Rosie & Faris: The Doppelgänger Effect)
(Featured Image: United Colors of Benetton – Face of the City campaign )