What’s an Advertising Image Worth?

Posted on 5/13/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

What is top-quality photography for a major advertising campaign worth? Evidently, art buyers at Campbell-Ewald, one of the largest advertising agencies in the U.S., think $2,500 for “all advertising” and “all print” rights is fair and reasonable, as evidenced by a recent negotiation for the use of one of Hans Halberstadt’s photos.

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Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Jon Feingersh Posted May 13, 2010
    Kudos to Mr. Halberstadt for standing his ground, as well as telling the agency to go away. It would be interesting to know the value of the US Navy account, which as he says, is probably worth millions.

    I once had a client who felt the price I quoted was too high, and told me "the janitor's brother's got a camera. I'll have him do it." Two weeks later, and much closer to his deadline, the client called me back to have me shoot the job. Of course, that's when I was forced to tack on the standard 10% "bother & trouble" fee.

    I sincerely hope the next time C-E calls, as they certainly will, that Mr. Halberstadt will add the B&T fee for this past episode.

  • Posted May 13, 2010
    I think it's fine to turn down people because the fee offered is too low - it certainly was a ridiculous offer on behalf of the agency. I walk away from offers of low usage and assignment fees frequently in a calender year. That said, I think Hans Halberstadt crossed the line. I think his note back to the art buyer was bitter in tone and bordered on rude. He may be a sole source of Navy Seal imagery but that's not a reason to adopt a vindictive spirit with low budget clients(no matter how unjust the reasoning behind these budgets are). All photographers suffer injustices in bidding, professional respect, etc. However in a age where all sense of business etiquette has been eroded, communication needs to be delivered in a way that we would want to be addressed ourselves.

  • Bob Prior Posted May 14, 2010
    Oh dear. This all too familiar story, raises several issues that are critical to every aspect of the marketing and advertising industries, and the image-makers and stock libraries who supply them.

    How we, as an industry, respond will determine not only the quality and impact of all visual communications in the future, but also the way in which expertise is valued.

    An agency buyer's journey follows this simple route:

    What is the cost of the product and its retail pricing or value?

    What is the spend on creativity to promote the product?

    What is the spend on media to generate sales or product awareness?

    What are the profits/benefits?

    The thing is, though, without impact none of the above matters.

    Great images deliver great impact. That's the whole point. They are the differentiator between memorability for a product or campaign, and something which disappears into the background. If you don't achieve stand-out you've wasted your entire budget.

    So the question has to be asked: as an agency buyer why would you compromise the impact of whatever it is you're buying the image for?

    If an exceptional image can maximise the chances of a client's return on investment, surely the price paid for that image should be set in relation to that?

    Image quality and creativity is a key contributor to campaign awarness and product recall. This translates directly into profit for both agency and client.

    So the issue is not what should the stock library or image-maker charge, but what should the client/advertising agency pay?

    Robert Prior

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