Your Visual Diet: You Are What You See

Your Visual Diet: You Are What You See

M&C Saatchi’s head of visual content Mimi Gray says we all know the adage, “You are what you eat”. But we are also what we see.

Speaking at the 66th Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this morning, Gray was joined by fellow panellists founder of Women of the World (WOW) Jude Kelly and British portrait and fashion photographer/director John Rankin.  

According to Gray, our “visual diet” is comprised of everything we see visually in our day to day lives. From scrolling through our Instagram feed first thing in the morning, to the billboards we see on the way to work, to the images that accompany the news stories we read and watch. And everything we see affects how we feel.

Exposure to thousands of images daily can leave us feeling hollow, anxious and inadequate. Especially given that we do not have control over what imagery we are being fed.

A staggering 91 per cent of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking. Meanwhile rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70 per cent in the past 25 years with social media linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.

Interestingly a recent study saw an 84 per cent increase in wellbeing when people were surrounded by meaningful visual content in their daily environment.

Jude Kelly, founder of WOW, said,

“We, as individuals, need visual nourishment. Not everyone can live by the sea. It’s not just about advertising appearing less frequently but about art appearing more frequently.”

British portrait and fashion photographer and director John Rankin countered,

“As much as I’d love to put pictures of the sea on Instagram and hope that people look at it, I know a 10 or 12 year old girl or boy will get more hits. And that worries me.”

Moderating the panel was Little Black Book founder Matt Cooper who added,

“Kim Kardashian has 141 million followers on Instagram. That’s 14 per cent of everyone globally on Instagram.

“The Louvre has 3 million followers. Just 10 million walked through the doors of The Louvre last year which was a record year.”

When asked if this was a negative thing, M&C Saatchi’s Gray responded saying,

“I’m not the biggest fan of Kim Kardashian. She’s an amazing business woman but a terrible visual role model.”

She doesn’t see Kim Kardashian tell enough of the background story. The hours that went into her hair and make-up, her personal chef, the personal trainer she pays: they are all hidden.

On the other hand, “I can see that art can be elitist and is not always accessible.”

When it comes to improving our visual diets there is no magic wand. Rankin summed it up,

“We’re all toddlers in this. The technology that is coming through, we’re all learning it. What’s really interesting is what’s going to be next. We’re still trying to work this out and we’re already talking about mixed and virtual reality.

“Soon you’re all going to have your own Kim Kardashian and she’s going to be booking your cinema ticket.

“It’s all about education. It’s getting into schools early, not letting your kids have access to technology until they’re older. All the big tech founders’ kids are not allowed to use technology until 13!”

Part of this education is also the campaign that M&C Saatchi have launched, led by Gray, “Visual Diet”.

It aims to share a practical set of guidelines for the use of visuals and talent which they hope agencies and brands will download and pledge to. The full set of guidelines can be viewed at

Please login with linkedin to comment

Art Cannes Lions Cannes Lions 2019 John Rankin Jude Kelly M&C Saatchi Matt Cooper Mimi Gray Visual Diet

Latest News

Bangkok Thailand - August 31 2017 Facebook App on iPhone with computer laptop background closeup male hand hold social network on smart device concept.
  • Media
  • Opinion

Young Australians Will Abandon Facebook If It Doesn’t Do More To Combat Hate Speech

In this guest post, founders of The Daily Aus Sam Koslowski and Zara Seidler discuss why in order to stay in the game and keep its user, social media giant Facebook needs to do more to combat hate speech… For young Australians, Facebook is on the decline. Unless the platform better responds to its user’s […]


by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Baskin-Robbins Australia Awarded For Stranger Things Campaign
  • Media

Baskin-Robbins Australia Awarded For Stranger Things Campaign

A brave move has paid dividends for Baskin-Robbins Australia who recently announced they won the award for Best Digital Initiative at last week’s QSR Media Awards. Baskin-Robbins Australia’s Master Licensee, Palm Oasis Ventures took a risk in launching a digital winter campaign targeting a new millennial and Gen Z demographic when it partnered with Netflix to launch season 3 of the streaming giant’s most popular show, the sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things.

TikTok Turns On Trump (Again)
  • Media

TikTok Turns On Trump (Again)

TikTok has turned on Trump once again. As yet, no one brave enough to speculate it's the work of the Chinese government.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA JULY 1, 2018: Entrance to Adobe San Francisco office location in historic Baker and Hamilton warehouse
  • Media

Convert Digital Awarded Adobe’s Magento Gold Status

Leading eCommerce website development agency, Convert Digital, has achieved the coveted Magento Gold Status from Adobe. This accomplishment has been reached following the agency’s continuing work with the Magento 2 platform - platform that is incredibly robust and offers unrivalled flexibility and scalability.

Influencers Raise $95k For Starlight Children’s Foundation In Do-Good Campaign Via Born Bred Talent
  • Campaigns

Influencers Raise $95k For Starlight Children’s Foundation In Do-Good Campaign Via Born Bred Talent

Influencer marketing agency Born Bred Talent has partnered with the Starlight Children’s Foundation to mobilise their talent roster and support the Stream Raiser campaign, contributing over $95k in donations thanks to virtual fundraising efforts.  With a combined reach of 6.2 million across Instagram, TikTok and Twitch, 9 Australian influencers contributed 76% of the $124k raised […]

UNICEF Set To Launch ClickforCovid Relief Gaming Stream
  • Advertising

UNICEF Set To Launch ClickforCovid Relief Gaming Stream

In 2020, the ‘new wave’ of youth consumers have inspired the world with their activism and fundraising, so eGEN is proud to have partnered with UNICEF, Loserfruit and friends to help gamers fight COVID and help the world’s most vulnerable children. The world’s most famous strawberry will be joined by her Click crew for a […]

Silverbullet Achieves Adobe Audience Manager Specialisation
  • Media

Silverbullet Achieves Adobe Audience Manager Specialisation

Silverbullet Data Services Group (Silverbullet), has become one of only four businesses globally to achieve Adobe Specialisation in EMEA for Adobe Audience Manager. Adobe Specialised Partners are acknowledged as the most skilled technical practitioners throughout the global partner ecosystem. Specialisations are earned after organisations achieve a level of certified expertise in an Adobe solution and […]

Businesswoman hand connecting jigsaw puzzle, Business solutions, success and strategy concept
  • Technology

General Mills Partners With Zyper To Build Virtual Superfan Communities

Food company General Mills has partnered with Zyper, a marketing platform that connects brands with their superfans, to build virtual fan communities for General Mills’ brands. As part of the agreement, General Mills will use Zyper’s software to initially identify the Betty Crocker and Fibre One brands’ top one per cent of fans on social […]

Facebook Pledges $500,000 To Group Admins Across Australia
  • Technology

Facebook Pledges $500,000 To Group Admins Across Australia

Facebook is continuing its Facebook Australia Groups Impact Fund, today announcing $500,000 in funding for the program. The grant was originally designated for bushfire recovery groups, however, has now been extended to local communities across the country who might be facing hardship. Facebook said it is on the lookout for groups that have a positive […]