When a 90-year-old company decides to shift their marketing approach from B2B to B2C, it’s a really big deal. Business-to-business and business-to-consumer are two totally different approaches to selling a product. One focuses on the logic of how the product saves the buyer time, money, and other resources. (Words like “ROI” and “data” get thrown around a lot.) The other focuses on emotional pull.
Like we said, totally different animals.
So when Dorfman Pacific, a Bay Area headwear and handbag company, asked for our help as they prepared to make the shift from B2B to B2C (after 90 years!), we knew how much it mattered, and we were honored they had chosen Corduroy Media to assist them with commercial photography.
As a primarily business-to-business company, it would be the first time Dorfman Pacific spent significant marketing dollars on their own assets (brochures and other customized content), so in essence, they were starting from scratch. The task was for us to produce catalogue photos for four of their unique hat lines.
We knew from the outset that it wouldn’t be a “typical” job because each line has a different look and feel to it. So we’d need to present each one in a unique way while also keeping the brand identity consistent throughout. To make things even more interesting, we had to shoot both Men’s and Women’s over the course of two days.
It was the kind of creative challenge we love.
The creative process
Here’s the question: How do you sell a product without “selling” the product? Remember, B2C marketing aims to stimulate emotions in order to inspire purchases.
Answer: You sell the lifestyle.
So our first task was to create compelling lifestyle storylines for each line. Here’s what we came up with:
- A romantic tryst in San Francisco
- Streetside café coffee date with vintage flair
- Villa weekend with the girls
- Escape from the city – a day beneath the open sky
Once we had our concepts in place, we scouted for locations that would help build each storyline. If you took a look at our BTS video above, then you saw that we found exactly what we were looking for: picturesque San Francisco streets, an iconic coffee shop in Russian Hill, a sun-drenched hilltop in the countryside, and a luxury mansion in Aptos (a small town outside Santa Cruz).
And then, of course, we had to find the right heads on which to place Dorfman Pacific’s products. This meant holding auditions for more than thirty models. We wound up choosing ten. You’ll also note from the BTS video that we did a pretty darn good job of choosing, too.
Ok, before we get into the actual shooting of the photos, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the scope of this project:
Four back-to-back shoots in four different locations.
A production crew of eight, including: director, photographer, gaffer, two production assistants, makeup stylist, wardrobe stylist, and producer/production coordinator.
A one-ton production vehicle filled to the brim with hats and clothing.
Plus a bunch more vehicles to transport all eighteen of us.
You get the picture (no pun intended).
To get the shots we wanted, after we set the scene to build the lifestyle concept, we reminded the models of their storyline and then just asked them interact with each other. Giving them the freedom to embody the concept in their own natural way allowed us to capture the little moments that sometimes happen between actions takes.
For instance, when photographing a coffee date, the action may be the sipping of the coffee, but the energy of the coffee date shines through as the model begins to put down the coffee cup and re-engage with her date. It’s in that in between space that the emotion or connection between the characters lies. That’s the energy that sells the lifestyle.
In other words, it all comes down to an unscripted moment of magic. But, at the same time, all of the brainstorming and planning and producing we did leading up to that moment is what paved the way for the magic to happen. And because we know what we’re doing with our cameras, we were able to capture those moments beautifully.
The end result
After two long days of shooting, directing, driving all over San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and ordering enough pizza for eighteen people, the end result was beautiful lifestyle photos featuring some really cool hats. The client was thrilled. So, of course, we were, too.
This project with Dorfman Pacific is a great example of the kind of work Corduroy Media does everyday. By combining our creative and storytelling capabilities with our production skills, we were able to create compelling visual stories that highlight Dorfman Pacific headwear and give them an edge as they venture out into an important new market.