Fashion advertising campaigns, from the concept through to printing  

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Art directors are professionals found in various creative fields: theatre, advertising, marketing, publishing, film, TV and fashion.

For the latter, art direction is particularly crucial when it comes to developing communication campaigns for brands’ seasonal collections. The art director is in charge of the whole process, from the concept through to the creation of all the various forms of communication used in the campaign.

Let’s have a look at the various key stages involved in an art direction project for an advertising campaign in the fashion sector.

The client brief

The brief is the document that underpins every project, summarising the useful and important information required for the development of a communication campaign.

 An example of a schematic model for a brief

Whether the project is independently run or commissioned, it always starts with a brief, and almost all art direction briefs contain the following basic elements:

  • The delivery date
  • Inspiration
  • A description of the collection
  • The artwork to be developed

Concept development

Once the brief has been analysed, with any queries sent to the client to make sure that everything is clear, it is time to get to work on the concept. This is essentially a design proposal, which defines the key elements of the project and provides the basis for its implementation.

 A group of people brainstorming

The first step in this stage of the project is research. When working with a new client, it is essential to research the history of the brand, its style and campaigns that have been carried out in previous years.

If, meanwhile, the client is one with whom the director has collaborated before, quickly ‘revising’ the previous projects is sufficient, before moving on to creating something new.

After research, the next step is brainstorming. Sharing ideas, supported by the information that emerged during the research stage, will lead to an original concept tied to the brand’s history, a short-term trend, or perhaps the garments in the new collection.

It is common for three proposals of different concepts to be submitted. All these must be approved internally (by the creative director) before they can move on to later stages in the process.

Important figures and costing

The idea behind the campaign will be turned into reality through photographs and videos, and it is therefore important to find content creation professionals who can provide an appropriate level of quality.

A table of production costs
A table of production costs

This involves seeking out and vetting the following figures, based on the campaign’s concept:

  • Models
  • Designers
  • Make-up artists
  • Photographers
  • Videographers

This stage is managed by the art director, in collaboration with the company’s producers or project managers, the professionals responsible for all the logistics of the campaign.

The producers and project managers also carry out the costing, in other words calculating what the total cost of the campaign will be, taking into account the professionals involved, equipment and any space that needs to be rented, as well as the percentage profit demanded by the company.

Content creation

When people think about an advertising campaign, they often imagine that the shooting is the most creative part, but in reality this stage is extremely technical.

Behind the scenes at a photo shoot
Behind the scenes at a photo shoot

Having gone through all the previous steps extremely meticulously, the content creation stage occurs at such a fast pace there is no room for creativity. Everything has been devised and calculated to ensure that this moment is purely logistical and technical.

Various forms of communication

Content creation is strongly influenced by the concept, but also by the quantity and type of artwork that needs to be exported.

 A table of digital formats for the leading social networks

A good proportion of this is digital, starting, of course, with the photo and video files. In addition, digital banners of varying sizes and proportions are usually requested, often with the brand’s graphics and logo.

A screen showing posts from an Instagram profile

Social media is becoming increasingly important year on year. A huge number of different formats are therefore usually asked for to use on Instagram (for both the feed and stories), Twitter and Facebook. These include images, videos and animated GIFs, ensuring every possible avenue is explored when promoting the new campaign.

The role of printed media

Although brands from almost every sector now make extensive use of social media, the print world is still extremely valuable. One of the most commonly used printed materials is magazine adverts. These usually cover one or two pages and are placed in magazines tailored to the brand’s target audience. When exporting this type of file, it is incredibly important to use the right colour profile, which will be dictated by the type of paper used by the publication, and to remember the basic readability rules for both the fonts used and the composition (positioning, contrast and colours).

An advert in a fashion magazine

For brands powerful enough to afford promotion on a bigger scale, the next step is larger forms of communication, with billboards on main roads still the most common of the many different available options. These vary in size and shape, but are an average of six metres wide. With this type of media, the resolution of the images is much lower than normal – while a standard poster would be printed in 300 dpi, these can be as low as 30-70 dpi, due to the distance from which the viewer sees the banner. There are also other factors to bear in mind, including natural light, any artificial lighting for the hours of darkness, and the material on which the advert is printed.

Billboards on a building by the side of the road in London

A final item commonly printed for fashion campaigns is a portfolio book, which promotes the objects in the collection. Portfolio books come in a range of formats – from a short brochure to a proper hardback book – and while there are countless opportunities for experimentation and creative flair, there is one key rule to remember: the images always take priority. As a result, it is important to always choose a paper that brings out the quality of the images, their definition and their colours.

Double-page spread of a portfolio book for a fashion boutique

The concept therefore forms a vital part of any communication campaign. This is then developed into a wide range of forms of visual communication. And while nowadays digital communication is very important, in the fashion world print is still a force to be reckoned with. As we have seen, there are a wide range of printed materials used, making print a fundamental part of promoting the campaign.

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