Reps and Creatives on the
Importance of Treatments to
Winning Commercial Jobs
Maren Levinson, founder of the agency
Redeye, asked fellow reps and an art buyer
why creating treatments has become such a
common and important part of the bidding
process in the last five years. “We now create
treatments even if we are not asked for them,”
Levinson says. She asserts that they are yet
one more opportunity to show what you
are about and the rigor of your creative and
What are treatments exactly? Most of
the time they are a 5-10 page PDF with:
2. Approach/Lighting Technique/Team
(Production, Styling, Sets)
4-5. Reference/Mood Boards/Inspiration.
Artists often include their own applicable
work as well, marked as such.
Levinson, Carol LeFlufy of Eye Forward
and other reps describe just how much time,
thought—and also money, if a photographer
chooses to hire a copywriter—can go into a
treatment, with no guarantee of getting the
job. “The good news is that once they have
a well-designed template, artists can tweak
their treatments for future jobs and customize
them according to each bid—be it a motion
bid, a stills bid, or a combo of both.”
PDN subscribers can learn about some
effective treatments, and the other valuable parts
of the estimating process, on PDNOnline.
Estimating 2.0: How to Price Ad Jobs
for Print, Web and Social Media
PDN asked freelance art buyer Karen
Meenaghan to concoct a fictitious commercial
assignment, then asked two reps to prepare
bids for the job. We listened in on their preestimate calls. After each of our volunteer rep
delivered their bids, Meenaghan explained in
conference calls how ad agencies and clients
might respond to their estimates.
Meenaghan’s brief called for various
executions for a “hero” image for print use,
including out-of-home advertising. In addition,
the brief called for 20 “inset” images for
online use, including social media.
The reps took two different approaches,
and ended up with drastically different bottom
line estimates: $155,053 versus $100,636. Rep1
took a no-expenses-spared approach. During
the post-estimate conference call, Meenaghan
suggested cutting the talent rate and video
production budget, and Rep1 explained the
things she would avoid cutting. Rep2 prepared
her estimate to come in at a competitive price.
Meenaghan told Rep2 that the estimate should
increase to $120,000 to $130,000 because the
estimates for several important line items
were too low. “There’s a [bottom line] amount
that’s to the bone, and there’s an amount that
allows you some wiggle room for bumps in
the road,” Meenaghan says.
Meenaghan has learned that there’s often a
gap between what clients say they’re willing to
pay and the actual costs of their expectations.
“It’s beer budgets and champagne tastes,” she
says. But she says that some agencies don’t allow
art buyers to tell photographers (or their reps)
that their estimates should be higher, even
if they anticipate overages during the shoot.
“If someone says, ‘I can get this job done for
these numbers,’” agencies often take them at
their word, Meenaghan explains.
PDN subscribers can read Meenaghan’s
brief, transcripts of the calls and the bids
both reps prepared on PDNOnline.
Marketing Strategies That
Land Video Assignments
Photographers-turned-directors who want to
get their work in front of potential clients
have decisions to make: Which social media
platform works best? Should your portfolio
show multiple projects, or combine clips in
a single reel of your best work? We asked
three directors who have successfully landed
jobs creating 30-second spots and other video
pieces to describe the various approaches that
have helped them land video assignments. They
include the self-assigned projects that helped
photographer/director Rob Howard create a
marketable portfolio, the marketing efforts that
Logan Havens made to demonstrate his ability
to create video-still packages, and Brook Pifer’s
director’s reel, which showed the esthetic she
brought to commercial clients and personal film
projects. Having a reel is “crucial,” she says.
“It’s your visual esthetic, your director’s cut.”
The Big Ask: What Art Buyers
Look for in Image Libraries
Clients are often gathering images first, then
deciding where they might be used—in banner
ads, in-store displays, native advertising, on the
company website or social media. Rather than
carefully crafting single images, photographers
are expected to “yield as much as possible
from every shoot day,” says Susan Cartland,
art production manager at mcgarrybowen.
To find photographers who can handle library
assignments, art buyers are looking for specific
skills and talents. Library shoots generally
require photographers to follow talent and
action by shooting on the fly. Lindsay Tyler,
senior art buyer at Havas Worldwide Chicago,
says she hired Ryan Heffernan to shoot a
25-image library for a pest control company
because she could tell he could think on his feet.
“He’s shooting stills in an almost cinematic way,
and I think that lends itself well to getting a lot
of images.” Getting a high volume of images
of every scenario requires good production
skills. Kevin Arnold, who has shot libraries
for MillerCoors, Sperry Top-Sider and other
clients, notes, “If you think through every little
detail [in advance], then when you’re shooting,
there is at least the possibility that any shot
you make will be usable in the final art work.”
He explains how casting, directing, wardrobe
and propping can help him maximize his time
while shooting requested images and capturing
unplanned shots the client can use.
ABOVE: Kevin Arnold, who recently photographed an image library for Pacific Life Insurance, says casting, wardrobe and propping can help him maximize his time while
shooting both requested images and unplanned shots.
© KEVIN ARNOLD