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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Penny-Wise & Pound-Foolish - Asset / Art Management

A discussion in the Advertising Professional group on LinkedIn, posted by Charisse Louis of Charene Graphic Design, stirred up some unpleasant memories. She asked, "Is it OK to use clip art?" Clearly a seasoned professional, Charisse provides her learned opinion on her blog.

My answer to the question is, of course, a multi-part: "It depends."

It's certainly preferable to have a design using clip art that is well-executed and on-strategy over a design that is poorly executed, over-done. To me, it's also preferable to use clip art over a design that is well-done but is off-strategy.

Beware of spending dozens of unplanned hours looking endlessly for a great "free" or cheap image because client is budget-strapped and hasn't been managed. Of course, in the process the agency has spent $x,000 of their time looking for this "free" image.

This scenario's my favorite:

  1. Art Director uses non-original art or photo or content.

  2. In the rush to complete, AM/PM, unaware, presents it to budget-strapped client.

  3. Client loves it. And double whammy: client's boss, who never reviews work at the same time, happens to see this preso and loves it too.

  4. Agency, which hasn't covered this situation in it's SOW, eats the cost - This is even more exciting (triple whammy?) if the image goes live and then you learn that a licensing fee is owed, a competitor has used the same image or some other rights nightmare emerges.

Process, patience and communication. Process, patience and communication.


  1. One way to circumvent these issues is the have wording in every SOW about the default use of royalty-free and non-exclusive art AND an estimated Out-of-pocket budget for it.
    Another trick is to slap "FPO" in a big font on any non-approved image in creative causing clients to be less attracted by it.

    If these measures are not practicable, there are enough low cost image banks nowadays to look for alternate images.

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  3. Thanks for your comment, memoson. Wise tactics. I don't see any reason they should not be practical to implement, especially if they are weaved into documented agency process.