Comparing Cartoon Drawings vs Real Life Photos for Advertisement Impact

Comparing Cartoon Drawings vs Real Life Photos for Advertisement Impact

The debate about the impact of animations vs. real-life photos on business sales is still ongoing and has been studied thoroughly throughout the years. So the question arises, which is better? To be clear, there’s no black and white answer. The best thing to do is to judge the situation and the needs of the target audience and then make a choice accordingly. This is an interesting read because it offers some perspective on when businesses should use either of the two, based on several factors:



If your business is still in its pilot stage and aims to convert potential customers into users, then you need to use real-life images rather than animations. MedaliaArt, an online art shop that sells Brazilian, Caribbean, and Haitian art, conducted research to test this theory. They replaced photos of their paintings on the website with pictures of the artists who created the paintings. Paintings gave a conversion rate of 8.8%, but with artists, it jumped to 17.2%, perhaps because people could see the face behind the work, making them trust the brand more. Similarly, a celebrity advocating a brand in an advertisement would bring in more sales as compared to an animated character. So, in conclusion, using real-life photos is almost 100% more effective! This is a must-have strategy for new brands in the market in order to grow their customer base. However, there are only some exceptions where this would be the opposite, for example, in a commercial targeted towards children under the ages of 7 as they are likely to trust their favorite cartoon character rather than an adult or human figure.

Call to Action

If you want viewers to act on your advertisement campaign, for example, contact you or make a purchase, real-life photos are the clear answer. Customers will only be willing to deal with you if they trust you, and numerous studies have been conducted to prove the positive correlation between these variables. A blogger, Jason Thompson, decided to see that if he replaced a generic icon of a telephone on his website with a picture of himself, whether more people would contact him or not. With the picture of the telephone, he received a 3.7% conversion rate. However, after he changed this to a picture of himself, the conversion rate shot up to 5.5%, an increase of 45%! After he conducted this test, Thompson commented on how people want an emotional connection, and real-life photos help in creating that. Seeing the face behind it, all will make customers feel like they know the person and automatically become more willing to take action. However, an important thing to realize is to not use stock images. A common viewer can easily differentiate, and it does not help in creating a personal connection; rather, it does the opposite.


One of the most vital things about marketing is the ability to get the message across effectively. If you’ve created an advertisement that viewers have difficulty interpreting, then it defeats the whole purpose of getting the message across. In this scenario, research has shown that cartoon drawings are more effective as compared to real-life photos or text. Cartoons have the ability to convey powerful, emotional messages without the need for text, which is great because our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Research conducted at the University of Vermont also revealed that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder also respond well to cartoon drawings. This is because cartoon drawings simplify the visual’s topic. Again, there are exceptions to this theory and real-life photos, if used right, can also be comprehensive.


This one is a definite edge that cartoon drawings have over real-life photos. A lot of us grew up watching different shows and still remember our favorite and most memorable cartoon characters. This means that we associate all cartoon drawings with playfulness, happiness, light-heartedness, and other similar emotions – something not all real-life images portray. The best situation to use cartoon images is when you need to clear air of tension. The current coronavirus pandemic is the perfect example. Businesses can create cartoon images in their advertising campaigns in an attempt to distract citizens from all the deaths, fear, financial stress, and other negative feelings that the pandemic is bringing upon them. A good animation can create a sense of nostalgia, which will help viewers forget about their worries for a while and imprint the campaign in their minds. A light-hearted joke, memory, or story is something that every individual in the world needs right now. Even if your business or advertising campaign is of a serious nature, you can always add statistics, charts, and other important information in an animated image to reduce the seriousness and monotony – if appropriate; otherwise, go for real-life photos.


One of the biggest reasons companies and startup businesses opt for cartoon images over real-life photos is because of the lower cost. Currently, 41% of marketers have stated that a lack of budget is the main reason why they cannot make video ads. While this can be very effective for all the reasons mentioned above, it can also backfire. Cartoon images reduce the seriousness of an advertising campaign; thus, users may not deem it significant or authentic. In a situation where you need to gain the trust of users and make them believe you, it is important not to skimp on real-life photoshoots to try and save money because to make money, you’re required to spend money. However, if the situation is appropriate and you believe that your viewers will appreciate a light-hearted advertisement and more importantly, be motivated to make a purchase, then there are a number of animation creating software available online that are great for businesses on a budget or for businesses that can afford to pay premium prices to gain access to the most advanced features. Incorporating real-life photos into your advertising campaign will render a number of overhead costs such as models, makeup artists, photographers, set design, and other miscellaneous costs that come with it. Thus, when creating an advertisement campaign, be sure to only opt for real-life photos if required.


This is another circumstance in which cartoon images win the game over real-life photos. Why? According to Vyond, animations are psychologically appealing – making them more engaging than real-life pictures. Plus, they are fun. GIFs and Google Doodles are a great way to spread fun, laughter, cuteness, and catch the attention of the viewer as well. All of these factors lead to the sharing of cartoon drawings more as compared to real-life photos. So if you’re creating a social media advertisement to improve brand awareness, use creative cartoon drawings because they will undoubtedly go viral. Plus, an added bonus of using animations is that their files take up less storage space. Real-life photos need extremely high resolution to portray a professional look. Thus, it is best to use animations for a social media advertisement, for example, ads within stories on Instagram, online ads on websites, and Facebook ads in newsfeed.

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