The State of the Industry: John Boone, Boone-Oakley

The State of the Industry, is a new column where Suzanne Sease speaks with advertising industry professionals and influencers to discuss what’s happening and where we’re headed.

John Boone is in my eyes one of the original virtual office pioneers. It was 1995 and John would work part time at The Martin Agency offices and part of the time in Charlotte, NC, where his family was located. We worked together on many projects and I loved the way he thought: “how can I do something that has not been done before.”  After John decided to venture out on his own with copywriting partner, David Oakley, they continued that belief: For Bloom grocery stores they created a billboard with a muffin that fell off the billboard on to a car. I love that about him!

Suzanne: What other mediums do you see print images being used in advertising?
John: Direct mail will be around forever because it has always has a proven track record of ROI results. Point of sale is becoming more important as well. I think print images will always be strong in vertical publications (especially fashion, sports and automotive). Also, OOH will continue to be strong even though digital displays are becoming more prevalent.

What are your thoughts on Ambient media and do you see this taking off in the States as it has in other countries?
I think it’s been taking off for many years now. Like the non-traditional work Crispin did for Mini, Truth and Burger King. Now every client wants a viral video, a guerilla event, a flash mob, a crowd-sourced idea, etc.

When I go to adsoftheworld.com most of the print mediums that are featured are from outside the United States? Are we being too safe? Are clients pulling us back
Advertising in the U.S. has always been “safer” than other parts of the world. Primarily because the the old P&G model to buy tons of media GRP’s and hammer the sales message over and over. Europeans take a very different approach to advertising. They see it as a more subtle art form that uses intelligence, humor and striking imagery as provocative weapons of seduction. That being said, agencies like Droga 5, Wieden, Goodby and a few others are proudly representing the American ad scene in the right way.

Are clients requiring more and more rights and optional images from still photo shoots?
Yes, with the advent of the digital age, images have a shorter shelf life and can be used on a much bigger (often undefinable) scale. With more and more media options at their digital disposal, clients are looking for ways to expand their marketing message. An image that used to only be used in a print ad is now also used on a website, a banner ad, a blog, a billboard, a trade show booth, an email blast, etc. There’s also an overtone of, because it’s digital, it should cost less.

How many of your current clients require the estimates to process through cost consultants? Do you see more clients using them or realizing they donʼt know what they are talking about?
Usually, the bigger the client, the more they require cost consultants.

Do you think our buying society is educated and appreciates the quality creative advertising or is it the “you tube” and reality show mentality?
With the advent of the digital age, there’s definitely been a shift towards clients demanding for faster, cheaper solutions. To many of them, digital = cheaper. With crowd-sourced commercials scoring high at the Super Bowl and low-budget videos going viral on youtube, it’s hard to justify the value of expensive commercials. And, with easier access to digital video/still cameras, editing software, retouching software, etc., it’s becoming more and more difficult to justify the expense of higher-quality imagery.

What are your thoughts on trying to make a product become a viral sensation? Do you think this is the future or will it phase out?
We have several clients who have asked us to create viral videos for them. It’s hard to tell them that viral videos don’t exist. We can create a video and hope that it goes viral. But it’s kind of like writing a hit song. On the other hand, we’ve actually created old-fashioned billboards that have gone more “viral” than most viral videos. It’s just a matter of doing something that’s worth talking about giving people a reason to share it. Some things will phase out over time, just because they’ve become passe or uncool …like flash mobs.

What percentage of print work is your company doing today compared to 5 years ago? Or even a year ago?
In 2010 we did a ton of print work with Mizuno. Now, a majority of our work is digital and broadcast.

Should photographers and illustrators learn the motion medium?
Yes, absolutely. Clients and agencies are looking for more and more ways to create content to extend the brand message to all forms of media. It’s more often than not that print imagery will also need to be utilized in motion, whether it’s a web banner, a mobile app, a microsite, a web video or some other form of content.

What advice would you give someone who only does print (still) work?
Read the answer above. Also, since more and more digital firms are doing the lion’s share of work for brands, photographers (and their reps) need to spend more time getting to know them and market to them.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

Suzanne Sease

There Are 3 Comments On This Article.

  1. Suzanne,
    Happy 2012!
    I’d like you to follow up on one of Mr. Boone’s comments.

    “SS: Are clients requiring more and more rights and optional images from still photo shoots?

    Boone:
    Yes, with the advent of the digital age, images have a shorter shelf life and can be used on a much bigger (often undefinable) scale. With more and more media options at their digital disposal, clients are looking for ways to expand their marketing message. An image that used to only be used in a print ad is now also used on a website, a banner ad, a blog, a billboard, a trade show booth, an email blast, etc. There’s also an overtone of, because it’s digital, it should cost less.”

    By “it should cost less” is he referring strictly to usage rights, or production expenses (image capture, prep, processing, delivery and archiving), or both aspects?

    • Suzanne Sease

      Hey Ellis,

      Unfortunately, I think he is talking about the production aspect. Clients think that the digital camera allows for cheaper production. And it is not only the capture, prep, processing and all but I think they are on a shoot and fix later mentality. And doing the retouching work in house to save money. Therefore reducing a profit center for you.

      Tech scouting is one thing they can’t do in-house and you must charge for it. If they question it, you show them that is it far cheaper for you to go to a location the day before at the time of the shoot then to have crew, talent, agency and client on set waiting for the perfect light. I once spent hours, freezing on a golf course waiting for the perfect light because the client didn’t pay for additional tech scout days. And who was the angriest about the situation, the client! Did they blame the photographer- no because I told them it wasn’t his fault. You can’t forecast the sun with out actually being there the day before!

      What can a photographer do to protect themselves?

      Make sure in your estimate and invoice description you don’t give away all rights- spell it out!!! If they ask for a lot of additional usages, give them usage fees a la carte.

      Shoot beyond what they asked for so they have to come back to for additional usage on another image or variation. So in your description if they have hired you to shoot 2 images, state they have rights to two (2) images. If they want a variation for web banners, then they have to pay additional usage. I have seen many of my clients increasing their revenue because they protected themselves in the description of their estimate.