Photos, Videos and Teachable Moments: Building Brand Through Photo Marketing

They dragged him bloodied and bruised off the United
Airlines flight, ignoring the social media paparazzi they knew were filming
every second on their iPhone, and uploading the footage in real time to social
media.  That lapse.  That
moment.  It grounded an airline.  Years of building brand: “Fly the friendly
skies!” Gone.
Now what airline are they? 
Now they are Brutal Airways.  How
many billions will it take to fix?  Can
it be fixed?  I don’t think it can; it
can only be cauterized.
Your brand defines you. 
Every. Single. Decision.  Every.
Single. Day.
United forgot that. 
Great photography tells a story.  Tugs an emotional cord.  When great photography combines with brand,
it’s the single most powerful tool to define perception.
Think about United. 
What do you see?  That video.  Now that shaky, iPhone low quality video is
United Airlines.
The company that understands all imaging defines their brand
would never make United’s mistake. 
They’d know what happens if that footage hits social media, and act to make sure it didn’t.  
Not by trying to censor images, or control content, but by creating an
environment where the content would never exist.  In fact, they’d work to ensure an environment
where positive content rules.
Now consider experiential photo marketing.  I’d argue United just got a big lesson in
this:  all photos and images are photo
marketing.  Intended or not.  And United KNOWS that. 
I know they know because I’ve worked with them.  They exercised extreme control over the
images they hired me to produce; and – does anyone (even me) remember those
images?  No.  Because their power was pitiful compared to
But realizing all photography has the potential of creating
an experiential marketing moment, then tell me, why would you create a
marketing photo experience that produces images that don’t represent your
brand?  Now, consider your last photo
booth.  Or hiring your last
photographer.  Did those photos highlight
your brand in a way that supported it? 
Or, did they suck?  Did you hire
thinking: this photographer will produce great images?  Or, did you hire the cheapest photographer
available?  Or, worse, did you decide an
iPhone could market your company as effectively as a professional?
If you created a photo experience from a photographer off a
low budget referral site – like Thumbtack– I’d bet things went sideways.  Look at the produced images.  Did they hurt or support your brand?  Did people love the images, live your brand
as an experience, post the photos to social media?  Or did they quietly try to forget an image
that made them look even older and fatter than they already feel?  Do you know? 
Do you have data which demonstrates the love?  Or are you guessing?
(Shameless plug:  To
showcase how US Event Photos has helped companies support their brand through
photo marketing, we decided to create a series of “client spotlight” pages on
the USeventphots.com website.)
I write this on a Southwest flight from Dallas to
Tampa.  No one was dragged off the
flight.  No one has yelled or
screamed.  No flight attendant was
challenged to a fist fight.  Just a
normal, rather dull, flight.


I’m sipping sparkling wine, new to their beverage menu.
Thank you, Southwest. 
While things aren’t perfect, compared to your competition, you get it.
HOWEVER — was that a human pineapple I saw taking selfie
photos with passengers at Love Field? Ok. Fun. 
But – why is a pineapple doing selfies with passengers at Love Field?  I’m still not sure.  Does beat the alternative I guess – THE VIDEO.
By the way, I was in Dallas doing a Game of Thrones Throne
Shoot.  Before getting to the airport, a
participant called me to see when the high-resolution photos from this morning
would post.  They REALLY wanted the
photo (they already received in real time the lower resolution image).  After posting the photos to their
permanent gallery, I texted the participant.
“Holy crap you are amazing!” Was the response.
Pretentious of me to recount this story?  Yes. 
But how does that participant now feel about HBO and their
experience?  I’d say, based on the text,
pretty great.  How much is that worth to HBO?  And me, for that matter?  Priceless.  Ha!  Another great marketing campaign

Time to land.  With
luck, the guy in front of me will get dragged off so I can make a viral video.

Mike Gatty
From a previous Southwest Flight, when I was crowned Road Warrior King.  A better marketing campaign on social media by Southwest than United’s THE VIDEO.

Mike Gatty Event Photogrpher
Last year waiting for my flight.
Green Screen Photography
One of the images from today’s Game of Thrones shoot.  Building brand for HBO and GOT one image at a time.