This is the new Mercedes GLA
Or to be more accurate, a photograph of the brand spanking new, Mercedes GLA.
This image is featured in a new glossy, admittedly very expensive, International press and poster campaign.
Now, to be clear, I am not a massive fan of Mercedes cars.
They’re a bit like BMW’s and Audi’s to me.
There seems to be loads of different makes and models that unfortunately, and ironically, all seem to look exactly the same.
Apart from a few shiny chrome letters or numbers on the rear of the car of course.
I also don’t have to tell you, that they are very expensive cars, and have a fuel gauge that seems to go from full to empty in approximately 4.5 seconds.
So to me, and as they say on Dragons Den……..”Sorry, but I’m out”
But then a few weeks ago, whilst driving around Edinburgh in my much more fuel efficient, but not that masculine, Renault Captur,
I drove past a huge, magnificent looking 96 sheet poster featuring this shot, of the Mercedes GLA.
Now I would be exaggerating if I said I nearly crashed the car, when I saw the poster, but there was actually a slight swerve and a fumbling down the gears as my head flicked back and forwards between the road and this glorious image.
‘Wow!! How sexy is that? What is that? What make is that? Is that a Mercedes? How sexy is that……!!??
Was this, a couple of weeks after my 50th birthday, my mid life crisis kicking in?
I’ve never been that into cars. Not like some blokes are.
So why, suddenly, was this particular car poster, making me lose concentration on the road?
Then it dawned on me. I broke out in a wry smile.
This is my job. I should know this. And I know exactly what just happened.
I spend my working life as an art director and creative, advising clients on just about everything visual.
Everything from good old fashioned posters and press in advertising and design, to websites, online content and all kinds of imagery.
To be clear. I do like illustration. But I absolutely love, all things photography.
Unfortunately for the last few years, there are two things I hear a lot.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, now knows someone that apparently does………..’a bit of photography’.
They know someone who’s…………… ‘just bought a really expensive camera’, and that………… ‘ I’m sure they could ‘take some quick snaps for us’.
He or she, has also apparently done, some ‘really nice looking shots’ and can do ‘some amazing stuff, even their phone!’
The second thing is sometimes worse.
There always seems to be some weird and wonderful collection or ‘bank of our shots’ of images that ‘might work’.
Some $5 stock shots that someone has accumulated. Some images a supplier gave them years ago.
Some stuff that was shot in 1997 which “cost a fortune at the time”, and are completely irrelevant now……….. ‘but it would be great if we could use them’.
All this, of course, and a load stuff a friend of a friend has done for nothing, and again, ‘it would be great if we make it work’.
Now I do understand the reluctance, particularly in challenging economic times, not to spend money if you don’t have to.
Commissioning new photography can be expensive. But not always.
And to be brutally honest, I’d suggest making your brand look cheap, and not getting any responses to your marketing, could be much more expensive.
I’m not saying I can’t make a clients existing photography work. I have done this many times and very successfully.
To me though, you always run the risk.
What does using a ramshackle bunch of half baked, not quite right, cheap-looking, inconsistent stock shots say about your company/brand?
Now, what if you created something that not only looks amazing but has a consistent ‘your brand’ look and feel about it?
Create a set of images that are for you, and the job in hand. Not something just to conveniently fill a space.
And most important of all, create something that will MAKE people look at your brand. Like your brand. And engage with your brand
I increasingly see more and more imagery everywhere, that is scandalously bad.
They are so clearly stock shots. Bog standard, space filling shots. Something that was clearly, not shot by a professional, or certainly by anyone that is, by the looks of it, any good.
Theses shots could be for any brand. That is why they are called ‘stockshots’!
Some of the car ads I’ve seen recently are quite horrendous. Horrible cut outs on horrible gaudy backgrounds.
More often than not, you can see how some poor retoucher has had to spend hours, maybe days, trying to make some p*** poor, appallingly lit photograph, look vaguely acceptable.
Is that REALLY how people want their brand to be seen?
Unsurprisingly, I can’t actually remember a lot of these brands by name.
And I would suggest that the highly informed, highly promiscuous, highly critical consumers of today, won’t remember these brands either.
So this brings us back quite nicely to our head turning Mercedes poster.
Mercedes clearly invested in their brand, by commissioning a brilliant photographer to do, what I think, is an amazing shot.
And now, a 50 year old man who was never likely to be interested in a Mercedes GLA, is interested , and even writing a blog, about a Mercedes GLA.
If only I could afford a Mercedes GLA.