GoGo Goes Direct

Posted on 3/5/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Since 2006, the production of multicultural-image agency GoGo Images has been distributed globally through over 100 partners. Now, GoGo founders and Corbis alumni Joe Barrett and Jennifer Hurshell have decided the company is ready to go directly to the client with a new boutique Web site.

"Every week, we receive calls from clients all over the world who we refer to our channel partners," said Hurshell. However, she added that continued client requests only accelerated the launch of an e-commerce platform.

In fact, GoGo Images is among a number of startups that sprung from major layoffs by the ailing Getty Images and Corbis over the last two years. Barrett and Hurshell, former senior vice presidents of global marketing and image licensing, respectively, were laid off by the Bill Gates-owned agency in mid-2005. It did not take the duo long to recover and capitalize on their extensive knowledge of the industry.

There are no hard feelings. Hurshell said, "Corbis was, and is, a company with fantastic potential, and we remain fans. That said, we're thrilled to be driving our own destiny in partnership with the world's best photographers, and ... addressing a compelling opportunity on a global scale."

The multicultural-image market gap

"Multicultural" has become a buzzword akin to "environmental," with producers jumping on the bandwagon at record speeds. Is there room for growth, particularly when a couple of older stock companies already occupy it?

Hurshell dismisses the question as similar to: "Did the world really need Chevrolet when there was already Ford and 396 other car manufacturers?" GoGo research suggests that there is not simply room, but a gap. The company estimates the need for 2 million new multicultural commercial images by 2012. At current rates, this quantity will take until 2018 to produce. Such demand can be attributed to a number of factors. Non-Caucasian countries generate 65% of the world's gross domestic product. Over 40% of global purchases come from non-Caucasians. The trend is pointing up.

According to Hurshell, existing multicultural imagery cannot meet such demand. It is already in short supply, accounting for less than 5% of all stock. In addition, there are client-annoyance and image-quality factors. The "mega-store" problem is affecting this segment worse than others as collections get larger and searches take longer. Much of the available imagery is also outdated, stereotypical, and U.S.-centric.

GoGo offers an alternative. "More than 85% of our inventory is produced outside North America... [and is] relevant in local markets, as well as for global use," Hurshell said, acknowledging that half of the agency's revenue still comes from the U.S. and Canada.

Interestingly, Hurshell points to assignment photography-and not Blend-as GoGo's biggest competition. While she admires Blend and its photographers, she thinks Blend produces in North America and styles for that market's interpretation of multiculturalism, though "they do a great job at it."

Bold claims, bold pricing

The new boutique Web site unites 10,000 wholly owned images with another 40,000 handpicked from the production of third-party brands. There are currently 22, including moodboard, Cultura, OJO and others. Thus, buyers looking for multicultural material get a relatively small, tightly edited collection.

In a market where the pricing trend is down, GoGo's prices are slightly higher than the highest prices for Getty's royalty-free brands. The same is true across the board. Some brands that are represented by both GoGo and Getty offer stark contrast, with GoGo coming in significantly higher.

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Business advisors often say that price is irrelevant when the buyer wants a product and cannot get it elsewhere. The stock industry already knows there is room for higher-than-microstock pricing. GoGo Images is banking on both.

Copyright © 2008 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


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