Over the holidays, we received a promo from Birmingham-based photographer Stephen DeVries that was not only memorable, but also unique, detailed and can warm you up on a cold winter day! The promo included all of the ingredients in an “Old Fashioned,” including a mini bottle of high end bourbon, as well as a booklet with Stephen’s photos all put into a beautiful handmade wooden box.
Below, I chatted with Stephen on the process behind the promo, as well as the feedback he’s received so far.
How did you come up with the idea for this promo?
I’ve been brainstorming for a while about a good promo that was fun, very ‘me’, and fit with the sort of work that I’m doing and the clients I’m approaching. I wanted to do something fun and fresh that would stand out, ideally something that I’d be really excited to open myself. I was on vacation with my wife in Kentucky doing part of the Bourbon Trail and we were at the Four Roses distillery (one of my favorite bourbons), when I noticed that they had mini-bottles of their highest end bourbon— the single barrel. That’s when I had the idea to create a single-serving Old Fashioned using one of my very favorite bourbons to make my favorite cocktail.
Was it a lot of work? How many were sent out?
It was a lot of work and we managed to squeeze it all in just before the holidays to get them out in time. I hired my friends at Ideogram, a design firm, to help me craft the package, then we met with a local carpenter to design and build the boxes. My friend (and amazing bartender) Steva Casey set me up with the mini bottles of bourbon and bitters for the packages and helped create the recipe and even styled the cocktails for the shoot. My wife, Annie, wrote the copy and styled the props for the two separate photo shoots we scheduled for the insert. From there, we hired a local letter-presser to do the vellum overlays and a printer for the inserts, and finally we had an assembly line day to package them all and get them out in the post (yes – we all had Old Fashioneds while packing!). In the end, we sent out about 30 to art directors and photo editors all over the country.
Why do you feel it’s worth it to create a detailed promo?
In my experience, a face-to-face meeting is priceless when trying to get new work or break through to new clients. That said, a face-to-face meeting doesn’t always mean instant work: often you hear back months later for a job, and that’s exactly why I felt it was worth the time to put out a detailed promo. Once you’ve had the meeting, anything that helps them remember you months later when that job pops up is key. My thought process when designing the Old Fashioned promo was exactly that — how can I put something on people’s desks that will remind them of me when they’re looking for a photographer? Beyond that, I’ve had some amazing clients that I already work with and I feel like it’s awesome to take the time to thank them for trusting me. That was the other side of the promo—something fun to open up and enjoy as a thank you for all of the faith that the art directors and photo editors that I’ve worked with have placed in me.
What feedback have you received?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone who’s gotten it has absolutely loved it. I’ve been able to arrange several follow up meetings with clients who I sent them to and have already had some inquiries about potential shoots from clients after they received the promo. I think it was a huge success and I’m already excited about fun future promos to send out!
For more of Stephen’s work, visit his website.