Corbis Goes Green

NEW YORK Tree-huggers are in high demand in the ad world.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s crusade to make the population more environmentally aware is having an impact on the types of ad images used to convey such messaging: Visuals are becoming more human.

Instead of traditional pictures of water droplets on leaves and Earth from space, more agencies are using images showing humans interacting with the environment and connecting with nature, according to “Creative Intelligence: 10 Major Trends,” a recently completed yearlong study by Corbis, the photographic repository owned by Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

To study the use of environmental imagery, Corbis analyzed 800 published tear sheets and 500 Corbis images to see what new environmental ads were looking like. The analysis found that while iconic images such as growing plants and beautiful landscapes remain top sellers, more specific visuals like someone hugging a tree were gaining in popularity. The company, which is publishing the study next month, declined to identify the other nine trends.

“What I’m seeing is a rising popularity for images with a more personal approach to environmentalism,” said Amber Calo, senior manger of the creative intelligence division of Corbis that conducted the study. “We see this as part of larger trend to social responsibility.”

Other images gaining in popularity include pictures of eco-tourism and people taking relaxing vacations. “I see those images taking the number one spot over time,” said Calo.

Two years ago Corbis created nomenclature for customers most likely to respond to environmentally themed advertising, “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.” The current study is an attempt to determine what those people will respond to over the next year. “Our job is to anticipate customer needs,” said Calo. “We know if we just kept providing the top sellers, customers would grow tired of it.”

As Gore continues to spread his message, including at this year’s Cannes Advertising Festival, it seems the “green [trend] is the new status symbol,” said Calo.