The Wall Street Journal casts a regretful eye on the seedy world of stock photos, pointing out how often the images are recycled, even among competitors. Various banks love to use images of nonthreatening, multicultural folks smiling at laptops, or laughing together while relaxing on the sofa with their mutual fund paperwork. But sometimes, those same photos get used for different products, implying that there might be no actual connection between Stripey Shirt Man and Met Life and/or Pfizer! If you can't trust generically themed imagery of general contentment, stability, and success, how can one properly absorb media and marketing semaphores? How can you know whether that black guy and his kid are really checking their online statement at Bank of America, or Key Bank? Send more unqualified signifiers, please.

When Marketers See Double [WSJ]