Turning New Business into Repeat Business – A Case Study from Tim Hawley

By Barbara Goldman

 In the world of Mad Men, Don Draper of Sterling, Cooper & Associates is the talented visionary behind the Samsonite account.  In real life it is the creative force of Alyssa Toro, Sr. Partner and Executive Creative Director at Connelly Partners, an advertising agency based in Boston, that is currently responsible for the innovative ads created for the historic brand.
Last February of 2012, Toro went in search of a new photographer to impress her client. Utilizing an atypical selection strategy, she eventually found exactly what she was looking for in Los Angeles-based advertising product photographer Tim Hawley.
Samsonite is the type of client who knows what they want…  and what they don’t want.  They had not been completely happy with their earlier product shots, and Toro needed to find a photographer who could “WOW” her client with stunning details of the features and benefits of their product and who could also handle all aspects of production that would  include complicated compositing and exacting retouching.
Toro’s idea was to do a paid test where she would send the product and background information to three different photographers. An extensive Web search was started, and photo reps were also consulted in order to find her select three artists.  Each chosen photographer was then sent a luggage sample and a layout. The client would then be able to see the results first hand and pick their photographer partner for the project.
Photographer Tim Hawley was one of the three photographers chosen to compete.  “For the Samsonite brand, we (Connelly Partners and our client) were looking for a photographic partner that would elevate our creative and provide us with shots that drip with detail, embracing every aspect of their product lines. Tim's work is very strong in that regard,” says Toro.
Hawley is an international award-winning photographer with a full-service studio. He handles all aspects of production including casting, catering, crew, location coordination, permits, scouting, production vehicles, prop rental, studio rental and wardrobe. Hawley was honored to participate and was advised by the agency that Samsonite was looking for a campaign that focused on “direct-product benefits.”  The beauty of execution would fall almost entirely in the hands of the photography and composition.   At the request of the client every detail had to come out of the product— the fabric, the zipper pulls, the brand medallion.  Samsonite wanted to approach this new campaign much like a fashion brand, creating the opportunity for something that would get the consumer to act from a visually powerful image.
Hawley responded with four variations for the agency that included a mix of two different angles on the bag and two variations on a dandelion effect he composed. Connelly Partners selected the image below to present to Samsonite along with the other two photographer's work. 

 Dandelion Effect /© Tim Hawley
At the presentation, the choice was immediate and without question. Hawley was to be their photographer and the only change requested was to soften the dandelion a bit. 
The original ad  focused on the freedom provided by the lightweight aspects and maneuverability of the four-wheel spinners. Hawley was then assigned six more ads, each focusing on a different bag or benefit.  “After the first project, we knew we struck gold,” says Toro. “Tim is not only a very skilled photographer, he is quite possibly the most efficient and collaborative partner we've ever worked with.”


Bags from Samsonite/ © Tim Hawley

Hawley was also asked to work on the American Tourister brand for three more ads with the concept of "Pack More Fun," which brought on a new set of challenges, especially one with a Ferris wheel prop, fabricated by John Ferrari, owner of The Shape Shop.
 Pack More Fun /© Tim Hawley 
Additionally, on recommendation by Connelly Partners, Hawley was asked by Samsonite to work with them on a client-direct basis to shoot 31 lifestyle images to fulfill their POS needs.
In December 2012, Hawley was hired again to work on another ad centered on the concept of the evolution of the wheel.  This involved shooting the product in Boston with the wheel images shot in Los Angeles at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Santa Monica Airport and at Hawley’s studio.  While in Boston, he was also required to shoot a 10-second piece of video that was a dolly move of the bag on a white background.  This was used as the end piece for a corresponding TV commercial and was shot with the new Canon 1Ds X.
 Design of the Wheel/ © Tim Hawley
Samsonite has purchased usage for two years in the U.S. and Canada for print, digital, POS and outdoor. Some of the images have also been used as banners on the front page of the Samsonite and American Tourister Web sites.  Large displays were purchased for outdoor usage in various airports such as Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Chicago. They also have appeared in Penn Station, New York City.
So, how do you turn new business that started with one ad into 10 additional ads and throw in a client-direct relationship approved by the Agency of Record?  Hawley advises, “Accurate and timely communication is the key.  I play the roles of photographer, digital retoucher, and artist rep so everyone involved gets to communicate directly with me.  There is never any miscommunication and I can efficiently solve all problems that arise across the whole spectrum.”  Hawley continues, “I am occasionally asked why I don't have a rep or a digital artist to handle the post production.  I respond that I can have a rep call them if they wish or pass the work over to a competent digital artist that they prefer.”  However, no one has asked him to do so to date.
There were different challenges with each of the ads. Overall the biggest challenge for Hawley with the Samsonite products had to do with the fabrics used in the construction of the luggage, which are very susceptible to creating moiré patterns in capture, re-sizing files and in printing. Moiré is an undesirable pattern created when two or more grids are overlayed at an angle.  In the case of Samsonite’s products the first grid is the weave of the high-quality fabric they use and the successive grids are the screens of the camera’s image sensor chip, of the computer monitor itself and the screen used in traditional 4-color printing. It is the photographer's responsibility to ensure that there is no moiré pattern in the capture. It is the responsibility of the digital artist to ensure that the subsequent screens line up exactly so that no moiré patterns show up in Web use or on printed materials. Since Hawley personally handles the retouching on his shoots, he discovered during compositing that re-sizing the images caused moiré patterns to show up that were not in the captures.  “I had to develop an algorithm for re-sizing that kept the moirés from being created.  Once the composites were completed, Connelly Partners also had me handle re-sizing them for each of the mechanicals so the moirés would not show up in printing,” he explains.
Another challenge was the wide range of media where the images were going to be used. Some of the outdoor usages were as big as 8 feet in height by 30 feet in length.  Print usages were for double-page, full-page, half-page and third-page ads.  There was also Web usage requiring much smaller files.  The photo shoots had to be handled in such a way that whatever was captured would be appropriate for a broad spectrum of usages. Color management throughout the various media also had to be consistent. File management and communication with the agency had to be precise, as many of their needs were immediate and involved multiple ad presentations.
For the convenience of the agency and client, Hawley shot at Quixote studios in Boston. Lighting was Profoto and capture was handled mostly by PhaseOne P65+ with some captures of elements made using a Canon 1Ds Mark III.  He also tried using the Hasselblad HD4-31 but found it could not capture the Samsonite products without creating moirés.
Hawley is a determined problem solver and Samsonite served up one of the most difficult challenges of his career.  Says Toro, “It is very clear that Tim is passionate about his work and we feel lucky to have found him.”
Even when presenting a piece of merchandise, Hawley tells a story. His work is organic, dramatic, eloquent and heroic. From start to finish, he creates original and memorable images of classic beauty based in crisp reality, all of which can be seen in the Samsonite work. You can see more of Tim Hawley and his creative vision at his site, www.timhawley.com



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