Thinking Inside the Box
How one experiential marketing company manages the world of logistics
Obama may have stolen the show at the White House Correspondents Dinner last year with his famous last roast, but he had stiff competition. Behind the scenes, a creative studio called OM Digital was helping to capture the limelight of a magical eight years on Capitol Hill.
Originally founded by Dave Clark and Steven Beatty in 2009, OM Digital is a creative studio that incorporates progressive technology to take images, GIFS and videos to entirely new levels. Media reinvention, more or less, is the name of the game — and if a spinning, panoramic camera photo booth that captures every angle sounds appealing, then the creative studio may be at the forefront of the next wave of creative technology.
Since the inception of the OM Digital concept eight years ago, it has been a hit across the board. From White House Correspondents Dinner to some of the world’s most massive brands, the company’s client roster now includes companies like Google, Pandora and Absolut that have hired the studio to participate in its events.
It’s a success that has allowed the company to expand quickly: Based out of Los Angeles, OM has multiple offices around the globe in D.C., New York City, Miami, Austin and Stockholm, all borne out of the founders’ humble living rooms.
Excited by the prospect of an “open-air” photobooth that would connect to social media, Clark and Beatty borrowed $10,000 from Clark’s brother-in-law to build the first booth with the help from a carpenter in D.C., where they originally met.
It wasn’t long until things began to take off. The pair decided to showcase the booth at FotoWeekDC, where a company representative from Time, Inc. saw the pair and invited them to participate at the company’s Sexiest Man Alive Cover party.
Today, the company is proud of the products it delivers. Benjamin Gustafsson, OM’s COO and head of marketing, elaborates that each product and photo booth is still meticulously handcrafted by carpenters in D.C. to create a polished, curved appearance. However, such constructions are terribly fragile. And this comes at a cost.
Gustafsson mentions that, “For years and years, we’d be crossing our fingers with sending this out with a freighting company, and you’d know, we’d be sitting there, and someone like [a client] is waiting, and boom, this thing has just been completely wrecked in the freighting.” It’s not an ideal scenario for the company, since it also has to shoulder the burden the cost of fixing the situation to make sure the events go off in time.
Currently, the company’s Orbit product takes about a week to deploy in areas close to its bases on LA, D.C., NYC and Stockholm. For the rest of the country, it can require up to an extra week in lead time to make sure the product arrives and is configured properly in time for events.
In order to ship the units, the company estimates it spends upwards of $600 for freight shipping, plus significant help from the operations team. It also requires the team to be onsite at these remote shipping centers, wrapping booths in saran, and finally strapping it on a pallet in a way to ensure it doesn’t get destroyed en route. Conversely, a team is often waiting at the receiving end to unload the booths properly.
It’s a laborious process, fraught with stress, requiring a number of OM’s own staff to make sure the event goes off smoothly as possible.
But recently, that has all changed with OM’s latest product, the OMbooth 2.0 (or OB2). OB2 compresses the entire technology down to a single Pelican carry-on case, which the studio can them ship to its clients through their preferred shipping solution, FedEx.
The company notes it is now able to reduce shipping costs down to half of its previous shipping costs, as well as cut down on shipping times. “To be able to get this down to a size where we can really ship it a secure case, and ship it with someone we trust like FedEx rather than these smaller freighting companies…that’s a game changer for us.”
Since the company has been able to downsize its technology into a portable, shippable package, it has fundamentally changed how the studio operates. In contrast, OB2 costs just $300 to ship. And instead of driving out to the middle of nowhere with a rented cargo van, all it requires is a hop and a skip to a local FedEx location.
Gustafsson is pleased with how much time the company has managed to save, in addition to the fact the studio no longer has to spend time or resources deploying pallets. There is also a lot less apprehension that the booths will become damaged en route. It’s more than a nightmare when the booths become obliterated in the shipping process, often resulting in client refunds that drive the cost up even more for the studio.
He adds: “It cuts out so much time and worry, and these photo booths are like children to us, so when we see them smashed up, it’s like a tragedy.”