The Watermark Project.

I’ve been meaning to share this one for a while. It was the project I kept coming back to continually while in NYC last week, as I truly believe it demands attention, but due to it’s utlitarian nature, is the sort of idea that goes unheralded, but will do more to change perceptions of Getty Images than a dozen of massive ad campaigns could.

You see Getty’s problems, while multi-faceted, are rooted in the cannibalisation of it’s business model by the internet, and the crowd. The ascent of Flickr and now Instagram to photo dominance has created a unique problem for Getty. It’s collection of imagery, is expensive for the ordinary user, and, save for the agency wires and the editorial teams at news organisations, behind the thread of current events.

It’s image of an old organisation behind the times has also been reflected in one of it’s simplest, and from a cursory look, most insignificant items. The watermark. The watermark represents a world of fiercely defended copyrights, bully boy tactics and and a reductive approach to people and content. R/GA, recently appointed the global AOR for Getty, recognised this problem, and did something about it.

The Watermark project is their attempt at turning this old school branding exercise into something much more useful, and much more in line with how people want to use content such as this. And it works. I’m especially impressed with the thinking behind it. From an aesthetic point, the new ‘tab’ idea could do with some refinement IMHO, but it’s smart approach to solving one of Getty’s problems bodes well for this future relationship, and is another awesome example of marketing (and branding) as utility.

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