“People are obsessed with how they look!” says teeth whitening company

Are you addicted to selfies? Researchers reveal millennials will take a whopping 25,000 photos of themselves in their lifetime

Millennials are undoubtedly the selfie generation, and if these young adults carry their picture-taking habits into old age, they will have more than enough photos to share with their grandchildren.

According to a new survey of 1,000 young Americans conducted by Luster Premium White, a maker of teeth-whitening products, 95 per cent of the respondents have taken at least one selfie.

And when you consider the estimated frequency millennials are taking pictures each week, they could end up taking an average of 25,676 selfies during their lifetime.

Source: Daily Mail, 21st September 2015


Keen observers will have spotted in the middle of the opening there that this story is genuinely a case of American youngsters being accused of narcissism by… a tooth whitening company. This might seem hypocritical – after all, what’s more narcissistic than obsessing over one’s appearance, and the whiteness of one’s teeth? But, in actuality, this is a perfect example of a PR stalwart: the Bait And Switch.

Note, if you will, the opening condemnation of narcissism giving way to a normalisation quote from the company spokesperson:

‘Even a brief glance at a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or Instagram account confirms that millennials are dedicated to chronicling their lives with selfies, and they especially enjoy sharing them with their network of acquaintances,’ said Damon Brown, CEO and co-Founder of Luster Premium White.

‘Beyond just millennials, most people now take selfies while on vacation or while celebrating to chronicle special moments with friends and family,’ he added. ‘If you don’t take a selfie during your vacation or while celebrating a special day, it is almost as if it never happened.’

We’re now in a place, storywise, where the narrative is no longer about a ‘whopping’ number of self-photographs, but of ‘celebrating’ and ‘chronicling’ and ‘enjoying sharing’. The initial note of condemnation has softened to understanding. And from understanding, we can move to supporting… and then influencing:

‘It’s become the virtual equivalent of a photo album,’ Damon said.

And when it comes to capturing yourself in the digital era, primping is also key.

More than half of those surveyed admitted to fixing their hair before taking a photo of themselves, as 53 per cent said they check themselves out in the mirror.

Meanwhile, 47 per cent of the respondents confessed to practicing their facial expressions before taking their picture.

Not only is the photograph itself now supposedly important, but we’ve had introduced to us the notion that it’s equally important to look one’s best in the photograph. Given that that’s the key message the PR intends to put across, it’s no surprise to see it become the central theme of the rest of the piece:

It’s important to make a good impression even if it is through a selfie shared with people you know online or in an email,’ Damon explained.

‘They will assess you based on the way you appear and carry yourself in a selfie – your hair, your teeth, your attire, and overall demeanor – so you want to make sure that you look and feel your best,’ he added.

Clearly we’re now advocating the importance of obsessing over every aspect of one’s appearance – and our path to the dark side is complete. Classic PR.