A claw-foot bathtub sits on an expanse of green lawn. In the tub, up to her neck in bubbles, reclines an attractive blond woman. It's a striking image, but will it sell a remodeling project? Craig Postlewait, president of Philadelphia's Building Solutions Construction Group says it will.
BSC Group is an upscale firm serving Philadelphia's affluent Mainline suburbs. The woman in the tub is Margo, a fictional character created by Postlewait to embody the wealthy, high-style women that typify his core clientele. Margo appears in a series of images featured on the BSC Group Web site and in the company's print ads, brochures, and mailers.
As in the bathtub image, the Margo photos don't directly feature BSC Group's work. That, Postlewait says, is intentional. The remodeler moved away from traditional project photography to reflect the notion that his company sells lifestyle, not remodeling work.
“I wanted to take the focus off the mechanics of a project, [things like] good cabinetry, good design,” he says, “to the point where [the message is that] designing lifestyles is what we do first, and then you can put all the rest of it in place. We wanted to get the message across to people that that's what we do.”
To reinforce the campaign's lifestyle focus, Postlewait steered clear of traditional architectural photography. Instead, to create the images, he recruited a model who had worked for a local high-end boutique, a stylist from an upscale salon, and a fashion photographer who shoots for local lifestyle publication, Philadelphia Style Magazine. An art director, hired from an ad agency, helped direct the shoots and write copy for the brochures and mailers.
Not only do the images resonate conceptually, Postlewait says, but they differentiate BSC Group's marketing from that of competitors. Even the nicest project shots, he reasons, tend to look the same after a while. “Almost invariably, [project photos] don't have any people. And to me, it's missing the mark,” he says. “It's like, OK, it's a nice kitchen, but how many of those do you see in every magazine you flip through?”
The effort wasn't inexpensive — Postlewait puts the campaign's total cost upward of $20,000. But the response so far has been enthusiastic. After all, he says, “I don't care who you are, man or woman: When you see a picture of an attractive woman, you stop and look.”
David Zuckerman is a writer based in New York.