Lou Weiss, the CMO of Shutterstock—and former president and CMO of meal kit brand Plated and chief marketing and merchandising officer at The Vitamin Shoppe—has a lot to say about the role of creative assets and visuals in today’s business arena.
According to Datanyze, Shutterstock has 52 percent of the market share in stock images but they also offer music, video and editing tools. In the third quarter of 2018, the company celebrated a 4.9 percent increase in paid downloads and 7.5 percent increase in revenue YoY.
With that said, the company hadn’t released a brand campaign in six years—until this month.
Weiss sat down with AList to discuss Shutterstock’s new marketing campaign, “It’s not Stock, It’s Shutterstock,” and revealed how the company’s message and mission haven’t wavered.
Why is this the first campaign in 6 years? Why now?
One of the things that we see going on in the world in our business right now (which is a good part) is that creativity is becoming more mission-critical for many businesses of all sizes and shapes more than it has ever been before. Creative businesses used to stand out from the pack. But today we got to the point, where, if you are not creative, then you start to stand out from the pack because the consumers’ and the customers’ expectations are so high.
Many businesses know that they need to be creative, but don’t necessarily know where to start. We thought this was a wonderful time to remind people who we are and let those who didn’t hear about us know what an amazing creative recourse we are. The amazing photos, videos and music sounds, created by over 550,000 of our contributors are now used in all matters of marketing and are the great way to tell the brand story all over the place.
Is this part of an extended campaign?
Absolutely. We think this campaign is a platform-type opportunity for Shutterstock that can be kept fresh, current and relevant for years to come.
What was the process like?
It was like the process of generating a great campaign. We thought a lot about the customers and the prospects, what their pain points and opportunities are. We generated a bunch of different concepts and chose the one that seemed to really show and not just tell what makes Shutterstock so unique.
Can you talk a little about the creative assets you used?
The campaign was created entirely with the art from our contributors. And the cat and the dog images chose us more than we chose them. They are radiant images with a lot of stopping power that demands attention. It’s kind of like the billboard that says, “If you’re reading this then your advertisement should go here,” proving that billboards work. They also serve as wonderful examples of the kind of creative assets you can find large piles of in our database of 225 million images and 12 million video clips.
And the new categories?
The six new categories we are adding to the site give people who don’t know us a sense of the range and depth of our [media library] and prove that we’ve got what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We offer great search and discovery tools, and great ability to [inspire], not just assets for people who know what to look for. When people hear “stock” sometimes, they think of pretty staged stuff, but what we are showcasing with this campaign is the magic of our 550,000 contributor network and the artists who make the amazing creatives that our customers can be inspired by.
Since joining Shutterstock in 2018, what have you changed in the company?
The business has continued to thrive and grow. We’ve only integrated the marketing a little bit. The brand’s positioning, however, has not changed at all. It’s been true for a very long time. The only thing that’s changed is how we will be expressing it through this campaign.
What are some marketing trends you see developing in 2019?
We have actually [recently] put out our Shutterstock trends report, and some of the highlights are “zine culture” designs and the “’80s opulence” come back, and “yesterday’s tomorrow,” or incorporating retro-versions of what people thought the future will look like back in the day. These are the trends that we really see growing [in 2019], but there are many others.
Can you talk about trying to control the brand narrative?
We don’t control the brand narrative. Even in the era of social media, [marketers] are the voice of the table, but at the end of the day, the customer, the market, the social media audience, the consumer–they control the brand narrative. We try to direct and guide it because we are already inside and we know what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish, but marketers don’t have control over brands like they used to. And I think [being in control] was a scary thing for many marketers. But now it has become a wonderful thing because we have an interactive dialogue with our fans and our customers about what the brands stand for. And that only makes us stronger.
What is your approach to brand safety?
Protecting the brand is not principally about the advertising campaign. It’s principally about doing business with the brand. Brands are three-dimensional things that live and breathe and those experiences that you have [with the brands] is what really defines the brand. The advertising campaign is the promise of how it’d feel to do business with us, but then we deliver on that feeling, and that makes us a strong brand. When companies make promises that they can’t keep, that’s when they get into brand protection theft.
That’s why it was so much fun making this campaign. Shutterstock has a strong position in the market. All we are doing is that, telling the story, [and] the story hasn’t changed it at all.