There is one piece of advice that we nearly always give to people designing Facebook ads: put a person in it. If you look through our Facebook ad examples gallery, you’ll see that nearly 50% of the ads in there have people in them.
Faces, in particular, are a winner when it comes to advertising. Because of the human element and the fact that our brains are hardwired to respond and recognize faces, we will be naturally drawn to them in any ads we see.
But faces aren’t the only parts of the human anatomy that draw our attention. Research has shown that are eyes are drawn to other parts of the body as well, particularly if they are attractive. When individual body parts are shown next to other objects, those parts always catch our eye.
Here are 5 ways you can use the human body in your advertising, and the science of why they work.
Eye Contact Helps Build Trust
Obviously a Facebook ad about how to fight under-eye bags will feature some eyes, but this image from The New York Times is still compelling, for one very good reason:
They may be pretty eyes, but what draws us to look at this particular ad is the fact that the women is maintaining eye contact with the audience.
Eye contact in an ad has been shown to increase a customer’s trust in a brand and the feeling of connection with the brand. Researchers at Cornell used the box of Trix, the cereal, to test what happens when you alter the gaze of a character in an advertisement. When they had the rabbit staring straight out and making eye contact, the participants in the study reported 16% higher brand trust and 28% higher connection with the brand.
And that was only with a cartoon rabbit.
We Love to Focus On Lips
What do all these 3 ads have in common:
Refinery29, a news site:
Flip Phone, an entertainment brand:
The Grid, a B2B technology company:
If you can’t see it you must be color-blind.
Yep, all 3 are selling using the power of red. Or the power of red lipstick to be more precise. Red is one of the most powerful colors that we use in advertising, and when teamed with luscious lips, it’s almost irresistible.
We can’t help but look. A recent study from the University of Manchester in the UK showed that in the 10 seconds after meeting a women for the first time, men spend half that time looking at her mouth.
When the women were wearing red lipstick they got even more attention, with a prolonged gaze of over 7 seconds. The researcher who led the study said “For centuries, women have painted their lips red to enhance their appeal. Our research suggests that red lips and perceived attractiveness are still inextricably linked, with red lipstick the most powerful attractor, and one that significantly increases visual fixation.”
Red lips in your ad helps tap into centuries of enchantment.
Like I say — red lipstick always looks great…
(Ad for Uproxx)
Torsos Grab Attention (Sometimes Too Much)
OK, so you can’t really write an article about how the human body is used in advertising without mentioning the obvious: boobs get likes.
One Facebook ad user found he got 50%-80% more likes when he showed a woman’s (clothed) chest in his ads compared to face images.
But the effect doesn’t stop at women. There are more and more ads on Facebook that take advantage of the male torso as well.
The ad for Six Pack Shortcuts is specifically targeted towards men that want to look like this guy:
But this ad for website BrainJet is just taking advantage of this dude’s rippling musculature:
Be careful though, because it could backfire. New research from Ohio State University suggests that if the boobs (or butts, or whatever else might be on attractive display) aren’t actually related to the product or service you’re trying to sell, your ad might end up being less effective.
The study found that viewers were less likely to remember graphic adverts. Basically, some ads can be too distracting for you to remember what they were actually an advert for. You might remember the ad itself, or rather what was shown in the ad, but you won’t remember what was actually for sale.
‘Sex sells’ is the old adage. Well, sex certainly grabs your attention, but then make you forget what you came here for in the first place!
Beards Rule Our World Now
Let’s talk beards. Gone are the days when every respectable man had to be clean shaven. Beards are everywhere. From the artisanal coffee shops of Brooklyn, to the microbreweries of, er, Brooklyn, you can’t go 2 steps without bumping into a beard.
It seems beards are everywhere on Facebook ads as well. You can find your next bearded boyfriend on Zoosk:
Then if you want to buy him a present that will be close to his heart, or neck, you can get him some beard oils from Beardbrand:
So why are our bearded brethren all over our advertising?
Researchers from Australia looked at how people rated the attractiveness of men who were clean-shaven, had light stubble, heavy stubble, or were in full bloom beard-wise. They found that the men with the heavy stubble were always rated as more attractive than the clean-shaven guys.
This could be because facial hair correlates with maturity and masculinity. Though thick stubble was rated better than a full beard, the beardies that are in need of the beard oil above shouldn’t lose hope. Full bearded men are perceived as likely to be better fathers, with beard quality, thickness, and fullness a signal to potential mates that they are sexually mature and prepared for fatherhood.
Pregnancy Bumps Can Release Our Care Chemicals
Once hidden, pregnancy bumps on display are now all the rage. A quick look through our Facebook ad examples shows that they are now more likely to be out and proud in ads. Whether it’s in celebrity magazine ads, such as this one for People:
or more specific baby and pregnancy related ads, like this one for BabyGaga:
Why do bumps work? Because they can lead to a release of oxytocin in the people, both men and women, who see the ads.
Oxytocin is our ‘care chemical’, and is released whenever we do or see something that makes use want care about another. It is released during mother-baby bonding, when two people fall in love, and is even released to strengthen the bond between man and dog.
It’s not only faces that work to add a human touch to your advertising. Other parts of the body can also be used to draw attention.
We spend our entire lives looking at other people, so we’re drawn to them in ads as well. We love looking at eyes, lips and bodies — it’s just in our nature. Adding something slightly different, like facial hair or a pregnancy bump can also make your advert stand out from the rest.