Stock photos allow viewers to imagine a world frozen in multiethnic harmony, where women laugh alone with salad and all is antiseptic and bland. The worst offenders are of the generic brand variety, which promote business ideology by showing people staring into a computer screen like it’s the Arc of the Covenant, or engaged in a handshake that never ends. It’s not merely the people in these images that are frozen in time, though, so too is the practice of using stock photos at all. The creators of a new campaign for the film Unfinished Business are familiar with the throwback quality of this trope and are playing it for laughs. You know, the kind of laughs three people always share over a Spanish Cedar table in the boardroom?
Twentieth Century Fox has partnered with iStock by Getty Images to make a treasure trove of authentic-looking stock photos featuring the cast of the film. Each image places some permutation of Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, and Dave Franco within an office setting, doing the kind of nondescript business stuff that classically gets done in such photos. (“This QED report is top-tier, Gary!”)
In some of the photos, Vaughn or Wilkinson will let on a glimmer of self-awareness. They have a look on their faces that reads like an eyebrow-SOS from someone trapped in corporate purgatory. Most of the images, however, succeed purely on the level of faithfully capturing every watered-down, anodyne detail. The stock photo, after all, is one of those eminently parody-able formats that need only be itself to be funny.