Creating a Lean, Mean Ad Machine
If you've been to New York City lately and found yourself crossing the 59th Street Bridge, you're probably among the millions who have tapped the brakes long enough to gaze up at a 120-ft. tall John McEnroe staring down at you. No, it's not U.S. Open time. No, John's not pushing T-shirts or $200 tennis shoes. His message is simple: "Card Member Since '78."
Brought to you by Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), one of New York City's most renowned advertising firms, the massive billboard is just one of the many American Express images you'll encounter as you roam the city's streets.
Conception of a campaign
Conceived in 1998, O&M's American Express campaign consists of a variety of outdoor media, from taxi tops to building murals, to phone kiosks. Sizes range from poster-size ads to colossal billboards, like that of McEnroe.
For the campaign, 21 celebrity photos were shot, and Ogilvy's initial challenge was to find a way to work with the variety of photographic media submitted—
from 35mm transparencies to prints. The mixed media dictated that each image would require a varying degree of manipulation.
As the campaign began to take shape, it became obvious that the project would require a great deal of collaboration between the photographers and O&M's art directors, print producers and in-house retouching department.
Print Producer Don Hanson and Executive Print Producer Joseph Burke decided that the project would be better serviced in house: "Logistically, we would have better control over the entire process," states Hanson. However, one problem remained: To what resolution should the art be scanned, given the varying output sizes? If the files were large, retouching could become frightfully laborious.
In search of
In need of a solution to streamline production, O&M's Dominic Deleo, director of operations, Graphic Services, met with Dave Gibson, vice president of sales, Iterated Systems, Atlanta, and Dennis Aubrey, president, Altamira Group, Burbank, CA.