The fashionistas are always hard at work when Suri Cruise debuts a new outfit. Each piece is identified and located within the seasonal catalogs, so mothers around the world can snap up the items for their own darling princesses.
The power of a celebrity wearing a brand’s fashion is enormous. I shot Jennifer Aniston wearing a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedgie shoes and learned that the line subsequently sold out! The monetization of this kind of endorsement has typically involved a relationship between the celebrity and the brand, but perhaps there exists a new business model that forges a relationship between the photographer and the brand. Here’s how it would work:
The photographer candidly snaps the celebrity wearing whatever, the items are identified by brand, the agency contacts the brand and alerts them to the existence of the photographs while simultaneously alerting magazine editors anxious to print the images…and here’s where the new rub comes in: the magazines tip off the agency as to which photos they would run and then the agency contacts the brand to see if they are willing to cover the cost of acquiring the images. Who wins? Everyone! The brand gets their product in print attached to the celebrity, the magazine offloads the cost of buying photos to the brand, and the photographer/agency collects their usual fee for reproducing their images, and the celebrity maintains a relationship to their fan base who pays to enjoy their work.
Is this a corruption of journalistic standards? I don’t think so, as long as the editors and brands have no control over what the photographer shoots. If the celebrity endorses the brand based on their own fashion sensibility or wears a brand based on an endorsement fee paid, then the magazine and photo agency relationship is merely monetizing the reverse side of this relationship. After all, brands have been reaping the rewards of celebrity endorsement without paying for magazine ad space for years.
Whether brands would compete against each other to have images of their brands run over another brand, or join together with other brands in the same image to share the image fee, is secondary to creating a new business model for the magazine business that offloads the cost of using celebrity images. Obviously the image fee for using an image on a website is cheaper than the print version, so it remains to be seen whether magazines will be forced to go all digital with a lowered expectation about potential ad revenues…and survive to earn a decent living.
Lavender Chiffon Ruffle Dress from SS’09 Easter Line from Crazy 8 by Gymboree
For several weeks we had been shooting Katie Holmes arrive at the Minetta Lane Theater for rehearsals for Arthur Miller’s play “All My Sons.” This particular day, we looked up the street and there was Tom Cruise walking hand in hand with Katie Holmes. It was the first time he had shown up in New York City to visit her at the theater. Everyone scrambled to get a two-shot. Months later, the image is being used to illustrate a story about how Tom and Katie’s marriage made it to the two-year mark.