560 CEPIC 2003 CONGRESS
June 7, 2003
The annual CEPIC International Congress in Europe has established itself as one "must
attend" conference for those interested in marketing stock photography. The
opportunities for networking with both RF and RM stock image producers and with senior
officials from companies around the world that market stock images is unequaled.
This year's meetings were in Lisbon, Portugal on Friday and Saturday, May 30th and
31st. There were over 530 delegates from 338 companies and 45 countries in
attendance. Other events and social activities were planned for the days both before
and after the main event. Many of the larger companies use this event as a opportunity
to meet privately with their sub-agents from around the world.
In the opening session Rolf Heinz from Gruner+Jahr discussed trends in global magazine
publishing; John Birkenshaw from PIRA International in UK talked about the book
publishing market; Winston Fletcher, Chairman of the Advertising Standards Board of
Finance in the UK provided a perspective on the world advertising market and Joao
Ferreira of Motor Press in Portugal offered information about the publishing market in
Portugal. Most of these presentations were loaded with facts and figures and I will
explore some of that information in more detail in future articles.
Steve Davis, CEO of Corbis provided his perspective on the picture market and said
that, "Our challenge is to help clients tell stories". He offered his interpretation
of a 1,500 customer market survey done by Corbis that was designed to discover what
motivates buyers in their selection of images.
Davis said that the number 1 reason was the Image and how relevant it is to the buyers
particular needs. Second was the ease of use of the web site and the third most
important issues was the service provided by the seller in making it easy the customer
to get the files they need and clear rights. For most buyers price was less of a
factor than any of the above and it was usually listed as 4th of 5th in order of
priority. Davis said, "From this we conclude that we really aren't in a terribly price
sensitive market. For most buyers is about getting the right picture, not the price."
After his speech several agents commented, "If that's what Davis really believes then
why does Corbis offer deep price discounts so often?"
Jorge Borges of Keystone in Brazil, Masa Takahashi of Orion Press in Japan, Olivier
Ruelle of Chinapix and Alexandre Cordeiro of AEI-Agencia Europeia de Imprensa of
Portugal also offered overviews of the trends in their particular local markets.
In addition there were seminars on Copyright, Standards for Digital Files and Royalty
Free, but there was much more interest in the networking opportunities than in the
As has become a tradition at CEPIC the social events were staged in beautiful
facilities that showed the best of old and new Lisbon. The cocktail party on the
evening prior to the beginning of the meetings was staged at the Centro Cultural de
Belem, a very beautiful, modern museum that had an exhibition of pictures taken by
famous Portuguese photographers.
The final gala dinner for 500 was at the Palacio do Correlo Mor, a small palace
situated just outside of Lisbon. The walls were decorated with tapestries and
centuries old azulejos tile. There is very little fine examples of azulejos from this
period remaining in Portugal because much of it was destroyed in the great Lisbon
earthquake of 1755. This palace was far enough from the city center for this striking
example of Portuguese art to survive.
Unfortunately, the Teatro da Trindade and the Convento da Trindade where the meetings
were held were woefully inadequate for a group of this size, and left quite a bit to
be desired. Facilities like these might have been satisfactory a few years ago when
only a couple hundred people attended a CEPIC Congress. However, as interest in the
Congress has grown it has become very difficult to find older buildings with European
character that will accommodate a convention of 500 or more people and still reflect
the historic character of the host city.
The space allocated for agents to demonstrate their offerings was so cramped that it
was almost impossible to walk between the tables. In order to provide electricity for
light boxes and computers, electric cables were strung across the floor and people
were constantly tripping over them.
An adequate buffet lunch was served each day, but there were very few places to sit
and some found it difficult to cut roast beef while holding their plates and standing.
There was no air conditioning (or it was set at 85 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees
Celsius) and the humidity was about 95%, like Washington DC in August. Maybe Americans
like myself are soft and more used to air conditioned spaces in hot weather, but many
Europeans complained as well. To get out of the heat and the cramped meeting spaces
delegates resorted to meeting on the narrow sidewalks in-front of the buildings with
cars and taxis racing along the narrow street. Fortunately, no one was hit, but there
were some close calls.
There were no spaces conveniently available where people could really have private
meetings and the hotels where most people were staying were not nearby.
I asked the organizers why they didn't arrange for the business part of these meetings
to be held in a modern hotel or convention center with adequate meeting facilities?
The social events could still be held at off-site locations affording delegates a
flavor of old Europe, but enabling them to conduct business in a pleasant environment
and a more efficient manner.
It seems the consensus of CEPIC leadership is that attendees want to meet in buildings
with old world character rather than blocky, cookie cutter hotels designed for
efficiency, but with little character or beauty.
A solution to the crowding problems that has been discussed, but so far rejected, is
to place a limit on who and how many can attend. Then small, traditional facilities
like the ones in Lisbon might be adequate and not overtaxed. We certainly hope they
don't resort to this solution as it appears likely that the number of people wanting
to attend future CEPIC Congresses will increase rather than decrease.
Given the rapid changes in the stock photo industry the development of relationships
between various sellers is becoming more and more critical. Even with all its problems
the CEPIC Congress is the single most important annual event where such relationships
can be developed and fostered.
Despite the inconveniences the Congress is still an event that no one can afford to
miss. The 2004 Congress will be held in Copenhagen and the meetings are scheduled to
be held in a 16th Century Stock Exchange. Sylvie Fodor, CEPIC Administrator said,
"We're going to solve all these problems next year."
Now may be the time for the CEPIC leadership to review their strategies for the
future, and for those who attended the meetings in Portugal to express their opinions
as to whether they were satisfied with the Lisbon event, or whether they would prefer
to meet in more modern facilities with more amenities.
Whatever the leadership decides, I'll see you at the CEPIC Congress next year in