Lock, stock and two smoking barrels: the state of the Asian stock photo

“Can we buy this person to look more Asian?” Although they are totally insensitive in any other circumstance, these are too real requests that agencies and studios receive from clients who are struggling to find an Asian face to face their Asian campaign.

The ivory world of advertising and marketing is slowly losing control here in Asia. The sand lines are clearly drawn. Brands can no longer modernize Western campaigns and lifestyles here and hope to gain the same populist traction they gained in the past (read: 1990s and early 2000s). We no longer aspire to “be like Mike” or “keep up with the Kardashians – we are thirsty to relate, we aspire to be inspired by our own culture, and we want to be spoken in a language we can understand.

The almighty Consumer stamps his feet, and brands try to respond in kind. Localization is no longer a keyword, but a necessity in producing effective communication campaigns. So the big houses of stock images respond – field photos, fix scenarios and populate their libraries.

At first everything is fine, but then the internet age had a trick up its sleeve – and the boy was an avalanche.

Today, the average user is flooded with more than 3,000 content a day on the various platforms they engage with.

Netflix, tablets, smartphones, digital TVs. Along with the fact that the human brain can identify and retrieve and image from memory in less than a second severely diminishes the value, currency, uniqueness and storage power of the content. The concept of “old” has taken on a new meaning. Anything more than a week is dated. More than a month? Old. Months? Ancient and irrelevant. One year? Look at this.

What this means? It means that consumers are constantly asking for new and fresh content. This is the reality for brands that want to remain relevant.

Personalization, location and uniqueness are the three pillars that now support the pagoda of Asian content. Brands can no longer get rid of the same old philosophy, the same old.

The growth of the visual market here in these countries is a response to the transformation of an industry – a transformation that is taking place most significantly in Asia, the link of globalization 2.0. As the region slowly surpasses Europe and America in terms of internet users, millennials, smartphone penetration, the adoption of new technologies and the rapid growth of the connected consumer, the need for visual content that speaks to the Asian perspective is never more pressing today. Traders and managers who are simply lazy and resistant to change will be left behind.

The rhetoric is simple – if an average user can create 2-3 pieces of fresh content per week in multiple formats, how much more a brand with many more resources?

With markets connecting talented buyers across Asia, crowdsourcing should no longer be an issue.

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