As content creators, should advertisers embrace or attempt to shift visual culture?

The concept of “visual culture” only became obvious to me since I have started working abroad, in Trinidad, where the culture hasn’t been completely homogenized by the impact of mondialisation. The local visual culture is still mainly led by press, radio and billboard.
So when I worked on my first campaign, and presented the first visuals to the client, which I would describe as “clean”, “luxurious”, aligned with “international standard” and “to the point”, their feedback was a surprise to me. “It’s boring”. 0_0
At that point I understood that I do not share the same visual references to what looks good and what doesn’t look good. I needed to change my approach, my rationale and ways of collaborating with the creative team. Basically stay away from my personal taste and focus on rationale, key message and best practices.
I later on, came across this story from We Transfer newsletter. It tells the story of how, a photographer, Charmaine, aimed at inspiring empathy towards queer partnership in Singapore through a photo series. The series is about queer women living in Singapore, but the staged wedding celebration is a life-event the couples won’t have access to in real-life since same-sex marriage is unrecognised in the country.

I found this article very inspiring because it also reminded me of a conversation I had with colleagues…
As advertisers, for a campaign to be successful and get people to remember key message, new products, sales etc… Often we get inspiration from culture and attempt to reflect the popular and visual culture codes to create “effective” campaign. I did write about this topic a few months ago .
But should advertising not also play a role in shifting preconceived ideas and stereotypes through unconventional visual references?
For example, when it comes to using women body image in ad to promote products targeting men… As advertisers and content creators, should we embrace it because “it works” and “that what people want” or should we do what is “right” and attempt to change people perception?
I will vote for the latter…
Too often, advertisers, obsessed with “effectiveness”, failed to be brave enough to challenge the status- quo…. Advertising is for me a type of modern art and it has the power to instil positive change.
Sometimes, just reflecting the reality can make others feel uncomfortable. I am referring to the Cheerios ad featuring a multi-racial family in 2013. Americans went mad over it!
And so what?
I will conclude by referring to the latest Nike campaign starring Colin Kaepernick.
Companies and brands often attempt to avoid taking strong public positions out of fear of alienating customers, but Nike is running straight into the political fray.

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Digital & Branding Consultant