Responding to Creative Budget Cuts

When will photo studios be opened for shooting?

When will it be safe to gather as a crew?

Will the number of crew members be limited?

Will social distancing rules apply?

The uncertainties in the world right now make planning for the next week difficult, let alone for producing fall creative assets. Here’s another factor to add to the challenges: creative budgets are bound to take some cuts.

We’re hearing it already: money is being diverted to prospecting. It’s a wise pivot since maintaining reach is critical to driving sales.

Creative people are inspired by limitations, so we have no doubt that fall creative will be more imaginative than ever. As food for thought, we wanted to share some ideas to consider for producing creative on a slimmer budget. Many of the examples are from direct mail and that’s intentional for two reasons:

  1. Direct mail is the most effective prospecting tactic especially when deployed in the right cadence with digital.
  2. Direct mail has the longest lead time. To backtrack into a high-level fall schedule: early August in-home dates require early July release to the printer, which requires June shoots and production, all of which require planning to start now. Thus, we’re sharing a lot of direct mail inspiration today.

Combine studio shots with stock shots to allude to a location. Location photography will probably disappear in the first budget cut. An alternative: show product shots along with stock photography to convey the locale and mood.

Photoshoot fashion on forms. Hold that “no way that’s so old-fashioned” thought. If models, stylists and photographers cannot be closer than six feet from each other and your product looks best on body, this is an option to consider.

Photoshoot one model to look like many. Shooting fewer models per campaign equals savings on model, hair, makeup, agency, and usage fees. In post and in design, you can make that one model look like several all in the same shot. Here are some examples:

Use CADS in place of imagery.  Truth be told, we don’t know for certain that the products on white on the following Sweaty Betty spreads are CADS. But they look like CADS to us and show the potential of using CADS instead of shooting new imagery.


“Shoot” room scenes with CGI instead of photography. Full-on room photography is a giant undertaking whether shot on location or in-studio. For some brands, CGI (computer-generated imagery) could be a viable option worth exploring. The resulting imagery is amazingly realistic. Take a look:

Give silhouette shots personality with art. The least expensive photography to produce is in-studio on white. In the hands of an imaginative illustrator, on-white shots and stories come alive.

These are just a handful of ideas for executing creative while pinching pennies. There are so many more! We’re always happy to brainstorm ideas. Shoot us an email if you’d like to schedule a free session.

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