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Truth In Advertising

As REALTORS®, we are tasked with both the sales and marketing aspects of moving properties. Members of the public at large are protected by legislation and professional ethics codes designed to keep our advertising truthful and accurate. We are not allowed to misrepresent a property we have listed for sale.

I was reading the Ubertor Blog this morning, and Steve had posted about agents using Photoshop software to clean up and edit an image used in marketing a property. It is one thing to adjust lighting levels or “airbrush” out a cat or dirty laundry that was inadvertently captured in a frame. It is another altogether to remove power lines from a view shot, add a tree, or change the colour of a house. I think we can all agree this would run afoul of REALTOR® ethics codes and consumer protection legislation.

How much is too much? I regularly touch up my photos. I increase brightness, colour saturation, and I will often edit out items that shouldn’t be there, such as Fido or a vacuum cleaner left in the shot. I would never grossly misrepresent a property, however.

What about this ad I found on digg.com?

Miracle Cream! Would people actually believe this miracle cream works so well as to turn a dried out raisin into a bunch of fresh ripe grapes? Better be careful with this one… use too much and you’ll degenerate back into a fetus.

Tim Ayres


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  • I also wondered how unwrinkled some advertised faces actually are. The truth is in Photoshop.

  • kathleen61

    I am fascinated with mass (aka “sheep”) marketing, so I was interested in your piece on touching up photos. I, however, was offended by your references to the equally offensive accompanying photo/ad.

    What kind of man refers to an older woman as a “dried out raisin” and a younger woman as a “bunch of grapes”? The perpetuation of women as objects, in your example as something to be consumed or not, in no small part adds to cultural misogyny and abuse of women. (Why not an ad comparing a young man with a toned abdomen with a 40-something man with an abdomen carrying extra fat tissue?)

    Some may dismiss my complaints as “political correctness”. To me, political correctness is nothing more than good manners in the smaller picture and about stopping hurtfulness against all others in the bigger picture.

    To answer my not-so-rhetorical question about what kind of man uses such thoughtless comments? Well, if he’s a realtor, he’s someone who would NOT get my business.

  • Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks for your comments. I was surprised at your suggestion that I am referring to women as a pieces of fruit.

    What I was saying in the article was merely a metaphor used to invoke in the reader’s mind the image of pouring the advertised product into a box of sun-rype raisins and through the magic of the product, out springs a bunch of juicy grapes.

    I thought it was quite effective. I think maybe you read into my comments a bit and I am sorry that it offended you.

    Thanks for the remarks though, that’s why the comment function is there.

    -Tim Ayres