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Photos Tell the Story for Getty Images

Selecting the images for a direct mail campaign took to the last minute for Getty Images as the company sought to create a piece that would best reach its audience of media and publishing professionals.

“We began design in April, and the process [lasted] eight to 10 weeks through to final approval,” said Eoin O'Connor, director of account management at Getty Images' global creative studio in London. “We were asked to create a device to promote all of the product ranges, and then we would pick the image that would appeal to the markets based on what was the freshest content.”

The company, a provider of photography that counts Associated Press and Reuters as competitors, chose a photo taken April 9 in Baghdad of two children next to a toppled statue of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to get recipients to open the piece.

“We're trying to appeal to executives in publishing and editors at magazines, newspapers and editorial Web sites,” said Kacy Cole, global product marketing director, editorial, at Getty Images, Seattle. “We're also hitting a multitude of influencers, including people who don't interact with the imagery. They would include a senior or managing editor, the VP of a TV network and art directors. These are people with creative direction, but they don't necessarily select the images for use every day.”

Upon opening the piece, recipients see photos of tennis great Serena Williams, Madonna and one of Bob Hope taken at a reception in his honor with the caption acknowledging that he had recently turned 100. The other side of the piece included photos of Hussein's toppled statue, President Bush and Sir Edmund Hillary.

“This was dubbed the heroes piece,” O'Connor said. “[These images] are iconic.”

Three drops went out in North America from the last week of June through mid-July. Two drops were used in Europe and one in the Asia-Pacific region during the same time.

The effort mainly targeted prospects. Only 20,000 of the 220,000 pieces sent in North America went to existing customers. Prospects were obtained from about 10 lists provided by American List Counsel. About 20,400 went to recipients in Europe, including 5,000 for existing customers, and 4,500 went to Asia Pacific, including 2,500 to existing customers.

The prospect piece contains, above the image of the toppled statue, the following: “Register Today With Our News and Sport Site on Gettyimages.com and …”

Upon opening the piece, the copy, above the image of Williams, continues: “License One Image for Editorial Use and Receive a Second Editorial Use Free…”

Above the photo of the statue, current customers were greeted with the news that the company has formed an agreement with Agence France-Presse.

Both prospects and customers can read about the agreement in the copy contained in the panel that appears to the right of Hope's photo.

“We needed to build awareness around our four businesses,” Cole said. “It's something we have not communicated as much in our marketing in the past. And the agreement with Agence France-Presse makes a huge statement about our credibility and abilities.”

Current customers were targeted as part of a cross-sell as well as to announce the Agence France-Press agreement.

“A lot of customers have called who didn't know we had sport or news as an available category of images,” she said.

A 4 percent response rate was the goal among prospects, with response defined as those who register, for free, at the site. Getty Images has more than 40,000 registered users.

“You can purchase images a la carte, and there is also a subscription model for access to a set of imagery,” she said.

Both pieces included telephone number and e-mail address for more information. The per-piece cost was about 20 cents, which included print and production. The cost to mail in the United States was 30 cents per piece. Another 7 cents per piece was attributed to fulfillment- and list-related expenses.

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