Germany: Plainpicture Continues Growth as Market Declines

Posted on 8/12/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Hamburg-based Plainpicture has announced new additions to its London sales and Hamburg creative departments. It is difficult to say why some independent shops continue to grow where others shutter, but the German boutique has been spreading its wings over Europe and appears to be weathering the economic storm.

That storm is hitting the German picture market, by consensus the third largest in the world, as hard as Stateside. According to CEPIC vice president Klaus Plaumann, 2009 was a year when many agencies shortened their workweek to reduce costs. Last year’s Picta, the flagship event of the German Association of Picture Agencies (or BVPA), was cancelled for low interest, offering another indication of current market conditions.

Still, Plaumann thinks that “the German picture industry is marked by moaning and groaning. Complaints are directed against the market changes and their negative consequences for picture agencies.” While he notes that challenges of digitization, pricing and other common industry issues have affected the German market as much as the rest of the world, Plaumann says that self-pity is somewhat too common—whereas in Anglo-Saxon countries, people tend to take responsibility to right the situation.

Again mirroring the U.S. market, where some boutiques continue thriving, Plainpicture appears to be among the very few bucking the general market trend. Founded in 2001, Plainpicture opened London and Paris offices in 2007. It represents numerous foreign brands in its local markets but is first and foremost a high-end image collection.

Plainpicture licenses the work of its own stable of photographers and exclusive local brands. The company recently separated its book-cover image collection Rauschen into a dedicated Web site. Earlier this year, Plainpicture also acquired popular image brand Deepol, which it represented for five years prior, for an undisclosed sum.

Active boomers, anyone?Now, Adina Wildau, former art buyer for KNSK Advertising, is joining the German sales team. Sönke Bernhardi will coordinate partner collection workflow from Hamburg. This is the second hiring announcement this summer: In June, Plainpicture brought on another sales person and a photo editor.

While many photo agencies speak of the creative quality of its imagery, the Plainpicture collection has that elusive quality that makes you understand exactly what that means. While styles and executions are certainly varied and some more generic stuff is on offer, the collection’s ratio of superb to passable is quite unusual, with much of the work easily passing the fine art test—a mark of the local ad market.

Similarly, Plainpicture’s Web site appeals to the traditional buyer market, which rumor has it is faring better than in the U.S. against the microstock invasion (but give iStockphoto some time). The site is super-clean and easy on the search side, and full of interactive goodies and promos for the more involved buyer. Since we are on the subject of hiring, check out this “who we are” feature—or a gallery of other Flash multimedia promos the company regularly sends out by e-mail, such as this “Mystery” number.

Copyright © Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Valentin Alscher Posted Aug 13, 2010

  • Gerard Fritz Posted Aug 13, 2010
    It's really nice to see an exammple of an agency that finds the right approach for their market. Rather than doing the lazy, easy thing of copying the easy, and in my mind, suicidal, methods of others (microstock).

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