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Commentary & Analysis

Employing the Tattoo Tactic

Conducted by Noel Ward,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: November 2, 2005

Conducted by Noel Ward, Executive Editor, On Demand Journal November 2, 2005 -- There's something about naked humans that gets other people--clothed or otherwise--to pay attention. Somewhere back in the lizard parts of our brains, nudity ignites the jones that Bob Seger terms "the fire inside." And when images of bare bodies are embellished with colorful, intricate tattoos and mailed to your office on a postcard they provoke wonder, interest, and fascination, as in, "What is this doing in my mailbox and who sent it to me?!" (Perhaps with a furtive glance around to see who might be watching.) It was just that reaction that Cole Creative in Boston, Massachusetts was seeking as they approached the challenge of reaching out to graphic designers in a recent campaign for Pantone. John Cole, the company's president and creative director knew the best way to seize the attention of graphic designers is with compelling or unusual images. He figured bare, colorful, tattooed male and female torsos would work just fine. Since the work was for Pantone, the benchmark for accurate color, the postcards also asked, "Are you this confident in your color?" The answer was a highly successful cross-media direct marketing campaign. Along Came a Spyder The tattooed people were intended to generate interest in the ColorVision Spyder, an affordable monitor calibration tool, and to raise awareness of other tools Pantone offers to help designers achieve accurate color. These include Digital Chips books that show how colors appear when printed on digital presses such as Xerox's DocuColor 7000, 8000 or iGen3. Cole figured bare, colorful, tattooed male and female torsos would work just fine. These devices are touted as being "Pantone certified," a process that is anything but simple branding or licensing. “When we certify a digital press, we certify the press, the RIP and all workflow software that drives it,” explains Andy Hatkoff, Vice President of Electronic Color Systems at Pantone. "The Digital Chips books show the relationship between a solid PANTONE color and how it will appear on an offset press, versus its appearance on a Xerox iGen3 or other DocuColor device.” The books are a terrific resource, but art directors and designers need assurance that the colors on their monitors are the same as those that will be printed. That's what the ColorVision Spyder is for--to help designers calibrate their monitor so they know the colors they see on screen will match the ones they'll see at a press check. The Spyder had been marketed via Pantone's web site, mail order and catalogs but Hatkoff and Doris Brown, Pantone's vice president of marketing, wanted to use a more dynamic and compelling approach to reach customers. At the same time, they wanted to learn more about their customers for future campaigns. Enter MagiComm “Pantone had used most of the traditional media but had never done a campaign that leveraged all the different technologies and increased the touchpoints with the customer,” relates Rick Littrell of MagiComm, a marketing firm based north of Boston, Massachusetts that focuses on cross-media promotions. He knew a successful program required aligning players who understood the processes involved and how to make the best possible use of the tools available. That's where Cole Creative came in. Not only was the agency an award-winning design firm, they were comfortable with the technologies for a cross-media campaign spanning print, direct mail, email, and the web to deliver a consistent and compelling message. “Most traditional marketing programs try to get multiple touchpoints, reaching customers and prospects in several ways,” explains John Cole. “This program used postcards and follow-up emails, but the most dynamic feature was a response URL on each postcard that was personalized with the individual’s name." Data Driven Targeting a database of graphic designers, photographers and art directors, Cole created personalized postcards which were prepared for production using XMPie’s UCreate and UProduce software, together with the FreeFlow VI Suite enabled by Xerox VIPP, and then printed on a Xerox iGen3 at ColorCentric in Rochester, New York. One side of each postcard bore a colorfully tattooed model, and asking the recipient, by name, how confident they were with the colors they used. To ensure maximum impact in multi-person agencies and studios, one designer or art director would receive a different postcard than his or her counterpart across the hall. The most dynamic feature was a response URL on each postcard that was personalized with the individual’s name." Each card also bore four Pantone color chips--instantly recognizable to every designer--printed down the right hand edge, for a little bit of extra branding. The other side of the card had a picture of the ColorVision Spyder, some key points about color management, the name and address field, and a personalized URL. Recipients plugging the URL into their browsers arrived at a personalized web site--with the same colors and images as the postcard-- created on-the-fly using XMPie software. There they could enter a contest to win a $1,500 Pantone reference library or purchase a Spyder. When entering or purchasing, they were asked some brief questions about their work and color management needs. A few days after the visit, a follow-up email arrived, bearing the same colors and images. Critical Color Although the postcard was only one part of the process, Littrell and Hatkoff say use of the iGen--driven by a DocuSP RIP--was actually a critical part of the process because it's the only RIP for the iGen3 that is Pantone certified. The mailing, after all, targeted experienced designers with critical eyes for color, so a mailer about color had to walk the talk. In fact, the job had originally been planned to run at another printer with an iGen, but because that device used a different RIP the job was shifted to ColorCentric. I thought this was pretty interesting, given the growth of digital color printing, so I asked Andy Cooney, ColorCentric's Vice President of Business Development what the RIP does for their business. Because the mailer targeted experienced designers with an eye for color it had to walk the talk. “We use the fact that the DocuSP RIP is Pantone-certified as one of our primary quality control checks on the machine,” explained Cooney. “We check several times a day on all of our iGens to make sure we are replicating color consistently.” And they have a lot of color to check. In addition to direct mail programs like the one for Pantone, ColorCentric produces a range of marketing collateral materials and has a burgeoning business in short-run books, including full-color titles printed on the iGen and bound in an inline finishing system. Cooney says the iGen and DocuSP enable the company to handle the wide range of files coming in without having to worry about color accuracy. "Traditional printers talk about having a four or six or eight color press. We say the iGen as an n-color press. By that we mean you can have a four-color image, and RGB image, and 10 spot colors, all on a single page, and we’ll replicate them all. That’s why we chose the iGen3 and the DocuSP RIP.” Empowered workflow A project like this one for Pantone clearly has a lot of moving parts, and that makes workflow a crucial part of the process. Littrell, Cole and Cooney all agree that workflows for cross-media programs must automate as many steps as possible so jobs can run efficiently. For Cole Creative, XMPie enabled creation of the postcards and the personalized web pages, while at ColorCentric Freeflow Suite VI and VIPP worked with DocuSP to ensure thousands of cards were printed with accurate data and spot-on color. Workflows for cross-media programs must automate as many steps as possible so jobs can run efficiently. Exceptional Results The compelling mailing, personalized response URL, and follow-up email brought exceptional results for Pantone. Hatkoff says, “We were absolutely thrilled with the bottom line. Sales increased 81 percent over the previous quarter and we gathered information and market intelligence we can use in the next campaign to make it more unique to each customer." And word has it another program is already in the works. Variable data printing, when teamed with cross-media campaigns like this one, is one of the ways digital printers with vision and technology can reinvent themselves and carve out a new niche in the marketplace. Cole notes that as these techniques have moved from being primarily print applications to being dynamic marketing tools they have grown in acceptance, especially in the past 18 months or so. Littrell agrees, pointing out that printers producing marketing materials need to realize they are in a communications value chain of which print is only one part. At the end of th day, though, what's important is the result for the customer. This example was a win for Pantone, and Hatkoff clearly sees the value and what it means for the printers. “If you're a print provider, and you don’t do this now, the world will pass you by," he says. "It's services, it’s value-add. As a print provider it’s absolutely imperative that you embrace cross-media strategies for one-to-one marketing." "If you're a print provider, and you don’t do this now, the world will pass you by," Of course, the images that will work for your business or for your customers may not be quite as intriguing as those John Cole chose for Pantone, but when you go out with a relevant message and compelling story that reaches your audience using media that lend themselves to personalization, you should expect to see strong results. So what will your tattoo tactic be?

 

 

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