Can Average Models Result In Above Average Sales?

Can Average Models Result In Above Average Sales?

UK retailer Debenhams is on a mission to prove that we don't need to be sold a Photoshop fantasy every time we shop for clothing. Save the perfect smiles and slim figures for their competitors; Debenhams is opting to use average every day people to appeal to the masses. Is this a breath of fresh air, or a clever marketing ploy?

In their latest summer campaign, referred to as the "diversity campaign", Debenhams recognizes their customer base is not the shape and size generally portrayed in advertising. They want to celebrate diversity and real beauty by using average models in their advertising.

Selling clothing has generally been as much about selling the fabric as the lifestyle that it represents. Fashion designers are always eager to portray their clothing in the absolute best light, even if that is quite a stretch from reality. Debenhams, as a mass retailer, could do well to appeal to the average masses. Brands focused on exclusivity and high fashion will no doubt stick to their fantasy advertising. After all, we all need an escape from reality once in a while, but Debenhams hits home with their reality check and that could do wonders for their reputation and sales.

Speaking with some plus sized friends they all had the common opinion that one of their frustrations with fantasy advertising is that they just don't know what would actually look good on their body types. In a world flooded with slim bodies on massive billboards, it can be rather hard to find examples of a plus sized well styled body. My friends indicated quite a relief at the fact that a major retailer is finally showing what they themselves might potentially look like in an article of clothing.

So what do you think? Does the average shopper prefer to be shown a fantasy or would they prefer reality when it comes to buying clothing?

Debenhams Real Models 1


Debenhams Real Models 2


Debenhams Real Models 3


Debenhams Real Models 4

[Via Debenhams Blog]

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Previous comments
Kurt Langer's picture

They definitely casted far and wide the best looking amputees for this shoot. And guess what? Photoshop was still used in these images...just look how clean the floor is!

Daniel Walldorf's picture

I actually like this kind of models more than the ones in most magazines but I'm not sure what most people like.. It won't harm anybody I guess and I personally would like to see more of this

Timothy Jace's picture

I see the 'value' in the article, but it has become 'spot the difference' picture game.

Jon Erdmann's picture

I think using all models of shapes and sizes, is much better as a whole... just look on any Main Street USA. As far as the first photo, the model on the right looks like an amazon with implants and not even of your average every day woman.

Turbohampster's picture

The "average" model in the first pic is incredibly pretty!
But she is clearly overweight!
Just as we shouldn't promote being unhealthily underweight, we shouldn't promote being overweight either!
Most western countries have a severe problem with obesity, and trying glamourise people being overweight by calling them "real women", is just as bad a promoting being unhealthily thin!

Sandra Jackson's picture

There are some relevant and serious questions about what defines being "over weight". To me she looks healthy. I am technically "over weight" and yet it perfect health. My friend is of a healthy weight and yet has high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and has to be on medication. The notion that extra pounds are a determining factor of heath is outdated.

Turbohampster's picture

I agree that someones weight is not the best measure of someones health, body fat percentage is a much more useful measure. But with regards to someones healthy body fat range theres not really any serious "questions" the risks of being even moderately outside the healthy range have been scientifically studied and documented.

Of course you can be overweight and in perfect health! Just as you can smoke, drink, eat crap and still be fine!
But eventually it will catchup with you!

Like wise you can eat a perfect diet, exercise everyday & die the next day of a brain haemorrhage.
Where did I say weight was the only determining factor in health???

BUT however you try to dress it up or justify it having excess body fat INCREASES your risks of health problems, just as smoking does. Just ask your Dr

The thing that really annoys me is if someone posts a picture of a woman with an almost picture perfect "healthy body" such as the girl on the left. People will feel quite happy about labelling her size zero anorexic etc, even though she is perfectly healthy.

Where as if someone posts a picture of a lady such as the one above, who is quite clearly a bit overweight (not obese). People will say she looks "healthy"..........

robyn ernst's picture

Just because something is is "average" or "normal" in society, doesn't make it healthy. I'm tired of people promoting plus sizes because it's "average" and saying that it's healthy. The reason why many women in today's society are larger, is because the majority of them don't have the time or personal drive, to work out or eat healthy. Most likely if you are taking care of your body, you are neither emaciated looking or plus size…although for some women, they can take stellar care of themselves and still be skinny or have curves. The bottom line is, we should be focusing on bodies resulting from healthy lifestyles; not bodies that are "average" or "normal". We shouldn't want to promote average. We should want to promote people who strive to be their personal best.

Olivia Parker's picture

Its sad yo read these posts. I think its time to change the industry. All people think about now is looking ideal. Sorry but it doesn't exist. If your different from ideal than your not worth anything. I am sorry but its our differences that make us interesting not looking like some twig twit. I love this campaign and love they included amputees cuz it is more prevalent then you think especially in service men/women. For a women who has an amputee I am sure would live to know the would still look beautiful in a dress instead of hiding it. You guys are being ignorant and need to put your shoes in someone else shoes for awhile and think about they might feel. I would buy from this company any day rather than others who want fake people. Kudos to this company for wanting yo understand those with differences.

Wodan Rheingold's picture

Looking beautiful is not an invention of the industry… even animals look for beauty qualities in their partners, and I bet you want a good looking guy (or girl) too. Of course, the ideal doesn't exist, but that's the whole magic about advertising: dreaming!

A few years ago, we've had the green and environment-friendly trend. Companies didn't go 'green' because they cared, they did it because it made them look good and that sells.

And I wonder if you really would buy clothes only for this reason.

Olivia Parker's picture

Sorry I am a mother of two children with Autism and I dont live in fantasy land. I live in real life and understand that fantasy sells. I didnt look for looks when I met my husband 10 years ago I was looking for someone with a good personality and other qualities. That is the problem today instead of embracing the truth we want some fantasy, hollywood romance. Men only want ideal women and divorce for younger women cuz their wife of many years isnt ideal anymore. We need to start living in the real world and pay attention to what we are doing there instead of living in a fantasy. Sure I could dream my kids are normal and my husband is the sexiest, richest man alive and that unicorns and rainbows are gonna fly out my arse but that aint so. I am blessed and happy to live in the real world with amazing children and a good husband and a roof over my head and food in my house. God is good and the rest is just fake!

Wodan Rheingold's picture

I have the impression that you took it too personal, and that wasn't my intention… I just wanted to illustrate how normal it is for humans to be attracted to beauty ideals.
I'm a realist in everyday situations, but I still can find moments to dream and enjoy things like reading a book, watching a movie, listening to an opera, strolling through art (photos)… If we would throw that away in favor of "living in the real world", it would make us very dull and gray, no?
But I get your point that for some people it might be difficult to see and accept that difference.

Olivia Parker's picture

I did not take it personal was just stating a point that people may not always see. I enjoy reading books when I get time among watching many movies. I would love to be an actress but that is never gonna happen but a nice dream, sure. It is time for a change because what women think about themselves is very negative since we are not ideal and I would rather look at an average woman and know that I might actually look good in that versus of that is for skinny twigs and wouldnt look right. It is time for women to see that women are beautiful just the way they are good to learn positive self esteem rather than negative trying to starve myself to look like something I am not.

Sonal's picture

As a female consumer I would love to see mass retailers embrace more diverse bodies in their advertising. I am a healthy weight but I am shorter, browner, and curvier than most models. When I look at clothes online or in a catalog, I have no idea what they'd actually look like on me because I do not resemble the model in the slightest. As a photographer I understand wanting to have "ideal" bodies for high fashion. However, stores selling to the masses should cater to their customers not the "ideal".

guismo37's picture

I have seen fashion going back and forward and back and forward. when Skinny is ideal then someone goes the opposite way just because they want to be edgy and radical and make fat the ideal, then, when fat becomes the standar (like many hundred years ago) someone will feel the urge of been edgy and radical and make skynny ideal, and so on an so forth. Nowadays being edgy and radical means "try the most opposite and bizarre as possible".

John Johnson's picture

I just like the fact that they are using real people.

Carlos Loya's picture

great photos and lovely ladies

John Johnson's picture

In the first image, the model on the right looks like she has to be REALLY tall. The scale is pretty far off..

John P. Hess's picture

It's all shades. These women are all beautiful. They have lovely skin that's been touched up by a professional makeup artist along with a professional hair dressing, and they're lit professionally with photography done by experiences shooters using pro cameras and pro lenses and... I'm sure a touch of pro photo editing to enhance their beauty. It's all artificial from the get go, these aren't selfies in a dressing room... but that doesn't mean there's no truth in these images. Advertising is about creating desire - the image of attainable beauty - no you're not a rail thin runway model but you can look good in our couture - mask it all you want as a socially responsible message but in the end it's plain good advertising.

Despina Tsafetopoulou's picture

So the 1st pic "fat" model is the same one as in the 3rd pic...Doesn't really looks THAT fat in that blue dress...Unless you want to persuade us that the 1st pic is true, wich apparently is photoshopped...Not to mention that no sensible average (overwheight) woman would buy that fabric pattern...

jonatan hernandez's picture

pointless.. just marketing. Whats the point on selling us you use normal sized models and then you shot from low enough to make them look taller ?

We always try to make our models look the best possible.

Im not a big fan of liquify but i am a big fan of making a model look as beautifull as possible.

On the other hand i think this article misses the point when this campaign looks more of a bennetton thing to me than trying to show average bodies.. i don't think the purpose was to show non perfect models but to show different models and not only market standard bodies.

probably nothing to do with size, more with each women is different.

inmho article miss understood the campaign, and the company did not try to make those models look real in a phisical sense but to make them look like a real show of the diversity we have now a days ( Specially in the uk )