By Peter Scheir
Holography is probably the most cost effective advertising or promotional vehicle on the market today. It has impact, pass around value, and product retention which is unparalleled by other media forms. Though custom holography is used mostly for large production runs or projects with large budgets, there are alternatives to custom which allow customers to use holography when the budget is low and / or the run is small. Directing potential customers to the appropriate type of holography and giving them options to use holography for their smaller promotional needs will make way to significant growth in the usage of holography. By customizing Stock Image holograms, customers can use the phenomenal visual impact of the medium with low production runs and no mastering costs.
Stock Image Holograms & How to Use Them: Holography is appropriate for MANY more types of projects than most people would ever imagine. Making holograms affordable in low production runs (runs too short to amortize the tooling costs associated with fully custom holography) is the key to selling these mostly un-tapped markets. I have found that the best way to address short run or fast delivery projects is with the use of stock images holograms.

Stock image holograms have all of the power of holography, without the high set up fees. Delivery schedules are significantly reduced by avoiding the time in mastering and proofing stages. The decision to purchase is made simple, as the user sees the image before the order is written; and, stock images can be customized to the individual project needs many times with no re-tooling at all.

In the photographic industry, stock images have long been a well used alternative to custom photography; although, less than 20 years ago the photos in virtually all advertising came from custom photographers. Today, well over 80% of all photos used in advertising come from these “banks” of stock images. Various collections of stock photos offer a dazzling array of imagery, so images can be found to suit even the most obscure project parameters, from bikini clad women in travel ads to surrealistic computer generated images for high tech product brochures.

Though holography has not yet developed into such a service able industry as photography, there are a great number of stock images scattered about the globe in the hands of manufacturers or agents begging to be brought back to life for new projects. Many hologram originators have existing stock images (I use the word ‘originators’ to describe companies who manufacture or direct the manufacture of holographic images). These images exist for a number of reasons. Sometimes images are created ‘on spec.’ for projects which do not come to fruition, and the originator retains the rights of production. In other instances, originators may create holograms for self promotion or for retail markets that can then be utilized as stock images for advertising and promotional projects. Some originators even create stock images specifically for potential promotional markets.

Stock image holograms have just as much impact as fully custom holograms, without the high set up costs. Stock image holograms can, with great ease, add huge impact to most any promotion. As an advertising piece, a promotional product, or a P.O.P. – P.O.S. display, stock holograms gain the attention of the viewer and create a lasting impression. Furthermore, they give an added bonus of “pass around value” as people love to show holograms to their friends and associates.

Direct mail can be enhanced with a stock hologram label. This year a division of Prudential Insurance plans to use a stock image Earth hologram bookmark affixed to a Christmas Card. The hologram will show through a special clear ‘window’ in the envelope for greater initial impact. With this creative design, a simple premium product will be turned into a powerful remembrance, and a run of only 5,000 pieces will be accomplished for little over the cost of a custom master alone! (DESIGN TIP – Placing the hologram INSIDE the envelope behind a ‘window clear’ acetate is much more effective than on the envelope. The hologram gets noticed in the mail stream, passed as priority to the recipient, and opened more quickly than plain mail because the recipient wants to see what is inside. Furthermore, if the hologram is tipped in or if ‘piggy back’ adhesive is used, the hologram is also a ‘premium’ sticker to be re-used by the recipient!)

Whether the hologram or the printed matter is customized (see customizing below), huge impact can be added to the advertising venue with the addition of a stock image hologram. Brochures, pocket folders, annual reports, magazine covers / inserts, etc. can all be greatly enhanced with the simple addition of a stock image hologram. The hologram can be applied as a pressure sensitive sticker (by hand or with automatic labeling equipment for larger runs); or, the hologram can be hot stamped, virtually becoming part of the paper itself. Designers who fully integrate the hologram with the advertisement find the results to be astounding!

Memorable premium and advertising specialty items can be created using stock image holograms. Full faced lamination of a hologram to a flexible magnetic substrate creates a low cost utilitarian product. This thin premium is light enough to go out in an envelope as a direct main premium, and substantial enough to be used as a trade show hand out. Stock image holograms can be added as an embellishment to many off the shelf products, as long as they have a flat clear area large enough for the hologram. These products include calculators, bookmarks, buttons, clocks, paperweights, luggage tags, key chains etc. (ask your stock image vendors which products they offer, or supply your products to them and they will apply the hologram). Even fully washable tee shirts can be created using special heat transfer technologies now available through various vendors. New life can be breathed into almost any promotion with the simple addition of a stock image hologram.

Within the past year alone there are a multitude of successful examples of stock holograms being used in creative ways. For a small conference, MIT needed only 500 pocket folders. A stock stock image hologram with their ‘tag line’ hot stamped on in holographic diffraction foil created the illusion of a costly fully custom hologram. Advertising Specialty Institute used 10,000 stock World holograms as pressure sensitive embellishments to a brochure on “a whole new world of electronic media”. A publisher used 25,000 images of an androgynous head looking into space for the cover of a psychology book . An independent film maker used 500 Blinking Eye holograms on magnets to draw attention to her new production. Nokia purchased 5,000 celluloid buttons with their logo hot stamped on the surface of a stock Music hologram for a new equipment promotion at a trade show. US West had a stock image hologram hot stamped onto a custom pocket folder for a special project requiring only 2,000 pieces.

None of these promotions (or the hundreds of other similar jobs which have been completed) would have been possible using custom holography. All the projects had tight budgets, needed quick delivery, or both. What’s more, most of the projects described above were sold by advertising agencies or promotional product companies whose salesmen had little or no knowledge about holography. Stock image holography is much easier to use than custom because there is no need to know anything about holography, only to pick an image which ‘fits’ the project. Creative energies can be spent designing unique ways to integrate the hologram, instead of learning a whole new (and complex) production medium.
Choosing and Customizing Stock Image Holograms: When searching out a stock image hologram, it is important for you to first determine the basic needs of the program (i.e. – how many pieces are to be run, what is the size of each piece, what is the application [product embellishment, literature tip on, etc.], and when the product is needed). With this information, your hologram vendor can easily help you to determine if a stock image will be more cost effective than a fully custom image; and, whether an embossed or a photo-polymer hologram will be more apropos for your project.

Embossed holograms (the type you would find on your Visa or Master card) are thinner, more easily customized, less costly when equal size images are compared, and relatively impervious to weather and the elements. Photo polymer holograms (which are light sensitive ‘plastic film’ actually exposed to the laser) have a higher perceived value and are considered more ‘view able’, as deeper images are more easily seen in adverse lighting conditions. Photo polymer holograms can more easily be applied ‘clear’ for product overlay applications (i.e. – watch crystals).

Embossed and photo polymer stock image holograms alike can often be customized to suit individual customer’s needs. Customizing a stock image can take a number of forms. A simple after printing stage adds a customer’s logo, ad copy, or slogan to a stock image, making it (for all practical purposes) a custom image! Stock images can also be die cut (cropped) to specific shapes and/or sizes, giving them a custom appearance. Placing ad copy around the image on the literature or product can further enhance the design, helping to make the stock image unique.

Overprinting on holograms can be complex, but any company who specializes in stock images should be able to perform one or a number of the following options for you; and, they will take care of the details! If you decide to contract the overprinting separately, read this section well as there are a number of important factors which can make the difference between a successful project and a nightmare!. Before you design your art, remember that the overprinting will hide the hologram in back of it, so choose an image and print text which do not interfere too greatly with one another. Following are the most common overprinting options, and some important factors for each type. Wherever possible, run a test on the exact product and press intended for production use.

‘Web’ printing (over-printing while still on the roll) offers low cost as well as tight registration of multiple colors. This is most cost effective when printing runs are at least 5,000 pieces of embossed holograms . Many ‘converting’ companies now have the special registration equipment needed for holograms. These companies can hot stamp, flexo print, or rotary letterpress on top of the holograms, as well as adding pressure sensitive adhesive and die cutting to your specified shape. When contracting web type printing, it is critical to make sure that the web width, image area, and registration marks are compatible with the press to be used. Be sure to print treat your holograms so that the hot foil or ink will stick properly, and consider a clear over laminate to protect the printing if the product is expected to stand up to scuffing. Web printing is generally more cost effective, but requires runs of at least 5,000 pieces to amortize the waste in set up and tooling. If estimating this type of overprinting, DO NOT FORGET to include the overs you will need to web and set up the press. I find that 25% overs are needed for shorter runs and as much as 10% for larger jobs.

‘Sheet’ or ‘individual’ printing is best used for lower production runs, and for photo polymer type holograms projects. If the holograms are cut into equal sheets or individual images, they can be hot stamped (embossed only), silk screened, or pad printed (offset printing is generally not cost effective for stock image holograms). Though these methods are slower and therefore more costly than web printing, they require far less sophisticated equipment and can be run cost effectively in very small quantities. The trick here is to be sure that all the images are cut into individual pieces of equal size facing the same direction. ‘Multiple image sheeting’ can provide extreme cost efficiencies compared to ‘one up’ imprinting because many images are printed at the same time on each sheet. If printing ‘multiple up per sheet’, be sure that the sheets are of equal size and that the images on each sheet are in the same relationship to each other as well as to the edges (which will be used for registration). Also, die cutting ‘off line’ can be difficult and cause additional scuffing to the surface. I have found individual printing to be the safest and most effective, although the most costly.
In many cases, it is easier (and just as effective) to print on the product or advertisement rather than the hologram itself. This is especially true of photo polymer holograms which are usually smaller in size. Leaving the entire hologram un-imprinted allows the full impact of the image. U.S. Holographics, for instance, used stock photo polymer holograms of King Tut and Pyramids on bookmarks and postcards for Vegas’s Luxor Hotel, tying into their Egyptian theme. Here the customer has made use of two stock images with no set up fees, and the products have been proven particularly successful as corroborated by numerous re-orders!

Some embossed hologram companies have the ability to add a whitish ‘etching’ or an actual holographic diffraction imprint of your artwork directly into the shim which creates the images. This service carries a higher set up charge (usually $500 to $1,500), but there is no additional per piece ‘running’ charge, so for volumes of over 5,000 pieces, this can be more cost effective. This type of ‘imprinting’ (as opposed to overprinting) makes the image virtually indistinguishable from a fully custom hologram.

ALWAYS ASK FOR SAMPLES FROM A COMPANY WHO OFFERS YOU OVERPRINTING / CONVERSION SERVICES FOR HOLOGRAPHY. Conversion of and printing on holograms is a complex “art”, and never as easy as a new would-be converter may believe. Though your stock image vendor will charge for the service, it is probably well worth the ‘sleep assurance’ to let them handle the
overprinting for you.

Stock images can be run in multiple formats including pressure sensitive labels, tamper evident security backing, un-cut roll stock, hot stamping foil, heat transfer material (for application to tee shirts and garments), and many other adhesives for special uses. This flexibility can be a sales boon when the customer wishes to use the hologram as a multi-level type promotion.

Stock Holograms and Services: As I worked my way through the learning curve of selling holography over a 15 year period, I began to target the needs of customers wanting small to medium run projects. The culmination of my efforts are A D 2000 INC’s division named HoloBank – Stock Hologram Collection. I founded HoloBank to help take the guesswork out of selling short to medium run hologram projects. HoloBank now proudly boasts the worlds largest selection of stock image embossed holograms, which it has attained by licensing available images from many of the worlds finest origination facilities. This compendium of over 400 stock images (and growing) ranges in usable size from 3/4″ to 6″ square.

HoloBank contains images with both general and specific themes. Though in its infancy, the collection is beginning to reflect the success of the stock photographic selections by offering both length and breadth of imagery. For instance, you might find a stock photograph house offering a variety of celestial themes. HoloBank has 3 dozen very different earth and space images in sizes from 3/4″ to 6″ square. Other imagery include: nature scenes (from shells and ocean waves to leaves and acorns); animals (from the extinct to the mythic); people (from pretty women and praying children to famous personalities); and high tech images (from computer innards to geometric forms). These are just a sampling of the growing list of stock embossed holograms in HoloBank .

HoloBank also offers a number of customization formats. Hot stamp overprinting can be added to ANY of the images quickly and at a low cost . When appropriate, we also create ‘holographic’ etching in matte or diffraction for a truly custom look and at a low set up cost with no additional running charges.

Merrill Lynch, MIT, NEC, Discovery Channel, The Better Business Bureau, US West, Techniques, Panasonic, Franklin Institute, Intel, and Sega are just a few of the larger corporations who have recently had successful promotions using HoloBank ‘s customized stock images.

HoloBank stock images are offered as labels or promotional products such as bookmarks, pins, magnets, calculators, tee shirts, etc. Plain or customized with the customer’s ad copy, logo, or slogan, these images are available in production runs as low as 500 pieces! With stock images, smaller companies who never dreamed they could afford holography can benefit from its impact. World Clown Association used 1,000 customized World stickers on their literature. Imagico uses only hundreds of a customized Skeleton to identify and promote it’s sculpted toys. US Telecard uses thousands of 1″ American coins images with a custom imprint as security labels on their calling cards.

The average turn around is under 3 weeks from start to finish with faster delivery available on most projects! By offering a wide variety of stock images in a number of stock products with quick delivery, HoloBank “takes the guess work out of adding the impact of holography to almost any promotion”.

Gary Zellerback for US Holographics (headquartered in Logan, Utah) described their photo-polymer stock image line as very successful, for premiums as well as retail items. US has over 100 stock polymer images in various sizes, and more are being added to the line each month. US offers numerous products created from their stock polymers including bookmarks, postcards, pendants, key chains, magnets, watches, and pins. They have found that pad printing is generally the best for overprinting on holograms, so they have brought this capability in house. They also offer silk screen printing where needed or appropriate. Offering low minimum runs in a variety of products and quick customization makes US a leading vendor of stock image holograms.

Dave McKay of Smith and McKay Printing in San Jose, CA is one of the countries leading hot stampers of holograms. They have taken a unique approach to the sales of stock image holograms. Purchasing large rolls of stock images in hot stamp foil, and producing a number of promotional products using these images allow them to keep products on the shelf ready to customize as required. “Producing large runs”, says Dave McKay, “keeps our unit cost down and allows us to run projects quickly and in a highly cost
effective manner”.

Smith McKay sells a great deal through retail print shops. Their line of business cards, note cards, stationary, and presentation folders are available in volumes as low as 100 pieces, which promote purchases by small and large users alike.

Remember, stock images are also used for in larger projects. Coupled with quicker delivery, the ability to see the exact image before an investment is made can sometimes sway the tide of a wary purchasing agent. In December of 94, Avon Books released the new paperback Global Paradox with a stock earth purchased through Laser Light Limited in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Abe Resney for Laser Light said over 1/2 million images were used on the first printing alone!

Sales Tools: Having effective and easy to use sales tools can be the determining factor when trying to put together a hologram project. If the sales literature is well presented and easy to use, questions are answered before they arise and a high confidence level is built as the project unfolds. HoloBank , US Holographics, and Smith McKay all offer sophisticated sales tools which can make instant hologram salesmen out of even the novice to holography. All three also offer sales materials which are generic, as they contain no references to the supplier company (phone #’s, addresses, etc.). This allows marketing firms, advertising agencies, printers, etc. to use the information as their own sales tools, without fear of source disclosure to their clients. Most sales tools have a minimal cost which is well worth the investment.

I have seen a number of excellent sets of literature designed to sell fully custom holography, from companies including Polaroid, Astor Universal, CFC Applied Hologrpahics, Transfer Print Foil, and Crown Roll Leaf. Any of this literature would increase the effectiveness of a salesman wanting to offer the gamut of holography services.

Other Reasons why Stock Image Holograms are Cost Effective: Generally, stock images are more expensive per piece than custom images due to ‘short run costs’ and/or royalties (paid to the owner of the image) which are included in the price per piece. This higher cost per piece is deceptive. Since there are no custom mastering costs to amortize, the total cost for the production run is low enough to make the project viable where a fully custom hologram would have been out of the question. Though the average ‘total dollar value’ of stock image jobs are lower than those for fully custom projects, the lack of high set up costs and the availability of low minimum runs create a much greater ‘conversion rate’, so more potential projects become actual jobs. Just as important, customers see the image before the project begins, eliminating the long, potentially problematic proof stages and chances for image rejection.

Qualification of customers is often complicated in fully custom holography. It can take a long conversation and an expensive packet of samples just to determine that a customer does not have the budget for a custom image. Stock images offer an excellent back-up option. If the budget does not allow for custom work, the project may often be salvaged with a stock image hologram. Furthermore, some of our sales reps have found that offering an affordable alternative in stock imagery can remove the obstacles in a customer’s mind. As the customer looks further into the project, he or she finds that a custom piece is really more attractive, and a budget is ‘created’ which includes custom tooling!

Besides easy access and low minimum runs, a stock image project can run smoothly on the side, leaving important man hours to be spent on the larger and more pressing projects. It is important to recognize that short runs and low budgets are not restricted to small companies. Many large corporations make use of short runs for specific projects which have relatively small budgets but are nevertheless extremely important. These projects can be high profile, and they can create an ‘in’ because your company was there for them on the smaller project. The customization of stock images ultimately makes them custom images. The majority of those viewing the images will never know that they were not created specifically for the company using them, particularly if holographic diffraction imprinting is employed.

Summation: In short, customized stock holograms add a powerful new dimension to the sales of holograms and holographic products. Consider the benefits:

  • 1. The visual impact of custom holography without the high tooling costs
  • 2. Affordability in low production runs.
  • 3. Multiple applications from print advertising to premium items.
  • 4. Additional sales to customers who are presently turned away.
  • 5. Ease of presentation and higher lead conversion, especially
    when used in conjunction with a full stock image program
    such as HoloBank ease of presentation and higher lead conversion, especially when used in conjunction with a full stock image program such as HoloBank .

All in all, the best solution I have found to the question of “how to make high impact holography affordable in low production runs” is the customization of stock images. More and more customers are turning to stock images to enhance their promotions. In the future, the use of stock imagery will be wide spread. Eventually, stock image holography could become as inexpensive and common a graphic element as stock image photography is now.



Custom Holography and Market Perception

GAINING INTEREST has never been a problem with holography. It is the incredible visual impact of the medium which fills trade show booths, packs exhibits, and creates the general fervor which beckons any salesman with a sense of “where the next pet rock is” to holography.

We, as an industry, have never had a problem attracting attention to our product. Whether in trade shows, point of purchase displays, header cards, table tents, etc., holography is used by thousands of companies as a vehicle specifically to attract attention to their product. Holography speaks for itself; and to the outside observer, it looks as though it sells itself. For that matter, with the un-paralleled impact it has, it should virtually sell itself. So what, we the professional marketers of holography ask, keeps the “closure” rate so low? What stops the multitude of small and medium size projects from passing the (great) concept stage and turning into jobs?

Making holography accessible to a wide range of customers has long been the bailiwick for any serious marketer of holography. In the realm of advertising and promotion, I believe accessible should be defined as affordable, understandable, and powerful. Well, we have the power (impact) in our mitts! Affordable? Understandable?? These two simple words have rarely been associated with holography!

To many potential users, holography is a ‘black box science’. They think of running a holographic promotion with less desire than the prospect of programming their VCR! Holography is a complex industry, and the industry as a whole has done very little to make it more ‘user friendly’. Very few potential users of holography know the different types of holograms available, much less when or why they should be employed; and, few holographic companies have understandable literature or systems for routing potential customers to other holographic firms when the call requires something outside of their own area of expertise.

Furthermore, there are many other graphic imaging technologies which have wheedled their way into the minds of the general public causing confusion. MANY people confuse lenticular optics (the ‘blinking eyes’ in cereal boxes from our childhood) with holograms. Anything 3-D or with multiple images is committed to memory as a hologram, even ‘random dot stereo grams’ and the movies at Disneyland. With companies like Sega using the word hologram to describe a video game which has nothing to do with holography, and major foil producers calling their diffraction patterns holograms, it is not hard to see where the press gets the false perceptions which it feeds to the consuming public.

If it were not for guidebooks such as this one, the world would have very little accessible information to put an end to the confusion. Even many of the ‘guidebooks’ are weighted on technical detail which is really not important to the potential user of holography who is generally concerned with “what, who, when, and how much”.

Assuming a customer learns enough or looks past the information needed to “understand holography”, they are many times faced with cost options which are unbearable for the size project they need. Origination (set up fees) for custom holography of any type are high. For dimensional embossed holography, origination fees (including all necessary steps from artwork to recombination) are rarely below $5,000. The greatest majority of advertising and promotional projects in the market have a total budget not far over the origination fee alone! Great interest in holography has been gained with the low cost embossed holograms on magazines and promotional material. This interest can be stymied by high cost of custom origination.

It is sometimes said that you have two options in holography: relatively low set up costs and high per piece costs (real film type holograms such as silver halide or DCG), or high set up with low production costs (embossed or photo-polymer). Neither of these options work when a project calls for 1,000 pieces or more and has a total budget of only $500 to $5,000. Also, many promotional projects have tight time deadlines, and fully custom holography rarely can be accomplished for a one to three week delivery.

Is it the limitations of a complex and costly medium which limits the number of hologram projects? Or, is it the relative unavailability of methods to make holography cost effective for it’s multitude of possible uses, coupled with the lack of information which could take the guess work out of presenting holograms to the potential users?

From my 15 years experience of marketing holography, I can say definitively that it is the latter. For just about any promotion seeking additional impact, there is a solution using holography which is BOTH cost effective and powerful. Other mediums, over time, made their complex and expensive products available and cost effective so that the market grew of its own accord. Not everyone understands how an enlarger or printing press work, and not everyone can afford a Ciba Chrome print on the cover of their annual report, but everyone who wants to use a picture can find a method to do so.

To some extent, these ‘growing pains’ of the holographic industry will work themselves out over time. As more people enter the industry, and more projects become available, companies will begin to filter the type jobs they take and to focus their efforts. This in turn allows them to refer projects which are outside of their area of expertise to other firms. Potential customers begin to see that they have many options within the holographic field, which gives them reason to come back to the field on an on-going basis for their various projects. To help this process along, it is important to understand what the industry has to offer; and, where to turn when a project sounds feasible but is hampered by volume, cost, or tight time deadlines.

As a marketer of holography, become familiar with each type of holography and what types of projects for which they are best used. There are generally no more than two possible holographic formats which even COULD be used for any one project, and most of the time the cost, size, or application will narrow the focus to only one specific type of hologram. Lead the customer to a solution using the type of hologram which will best serve their purpose. Remember, if fully custom holography is too expensive, a customized stock image will have just as much impact and may be the solution you seek.