ion Leap is a content marketing agency with a difference. We have a somewhat old-school approach. It’s my fault, really.
Remember how hard we used to work at our craft?
I started in the ad industry about the time of the Macintosh. This was back in the day when we carried actual drawings of print ads to our clients for approval. Hand-drawn pieces of paper. You remember paper.
Then, once those were approved, we’d contact our favorite photographer to create the photo. There were stock photo options, but they were very expensive.
The strange looking contraption to the left is (rather, was) a Typositor. This was how we set our headlines. Each font existed on a roll of film. You’d spool it onto the machine, then expose each letter, one letter at a time, onto photo-sensitive paper. After that, we’d wax the back and stick it to something called illustration board. Then we’d get obsessive about the kerning.
When I first began working at Chiat/Day’s Toronto office (now TBWA), I actually worked with an editor who edited one of my commercials on film. Most people reading this won’t understand what that means. Our editor actually used a reel-to-reel device to cut the film apart with a razor blade. It was the first and last time I would edit that way. Computers had taken over, leading to what purists felt was a distance between the editor and the film. Many people argued that the editor who actually worked with the frames of film had a different kind of respect for it than a computer editor. I agree. Feeling the film flow through your hands gives you a different perspective.
Have content marketing agencies forgotten craft?
In the world of content marketing, I often feel like we’re rushing all the time. We often work too fast, forgetting “old-school” techniques and the painstaking production methods we learned. But I’m here today to argue that a careful approach can separate your company from your competitors.
The video below, “Breakbot – Baby Im Yours (feat. Irfane),” is a good example of how much craft stands out in a world of computer animation, iPhone effects generators like “Game Your Video,” and other instant (read: thin) techniques.
The video below inspired me to write this blog post.
It was a kick in the rear for me to make sure we’re remembering the art side of our content marketing solutions. Sometimes it’s not about how quickly you can post your content and move on to the next. Sometimes the winning edge is how beautifully you can build something. The video is two minutes and thirty-one seconds long. I recommend you take the time to watch every single second of it.
We content creators live in a world of stock imagery. Just take a quick tour of blog posts. Stock has gotten so ubiquitous that it takes no thought to find one to decorate your blog post or web page.
The key word there is “decorate.”
All about appearance.
This great article by the Nielsen Norman Group espouses the importance of original imagery to websites.
Find old-school art resources
In a Richmond, Virginia ad agency called Web & Athey, I hired a young guy named James Eves from a printing company. He was, at that time, a stripper. No, not that kind of stripper. James cut film together in the back room of a printing company. Stripping is a nearly extinct craft in which film negative sheets were arranged to create printing plates. James was masterful at his craft. He brought that craft to Web & Athey and to every job and client thereafter.
Now James is running a company called Cape Ann Giclée and has brought that old-school attention into the computer age. Lucky for me, he’s still doing high-end retouching. James created the art at right for a print ad I dreamed up for Raritan Computer. We spent a good deal of time discussing which elements he’d need to make the effect work. I hired an old-school photography friend, Evan Cohen from Baltimore, to create the photos and James put it all together.
This beautiful art below an example of the kind of artist James works with now. This artist’s name is DiNo.
Read James’ thoughts about fine art reproduction at this link.