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The Mac attack.


Back in the old days - say, two or three years ago - advertising agencies all operated in much the same way. Copywriters pecked on typewriters; writing, sharpening their aim at file 13 and rewriting. Graphic designers hovered over drawing tables; juggling T squares, triangles and rubber cement. After the creative team churned out the proposed ad, the client said yea or nay. If the client wanted some modifications, however, the whole process had to begin anew.

Fast forward to the present, and the casual observer may mistake an ad agency for a computer room at a bank. While the dawn of the computer age is yesterday's news, it may be suprising that advertising agencies and design firms are embracing computers for creating everything from the basic written word to complex graphics. And if they're using computers for design, it's almost a sure bet that they're using Macintoshes from Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Computer, Inc.

Long touted as being user-friendly, "Macs" lead the computer pack for design purposes because they got a clean start out of the gate. "Apple marketed themselves better to that industry than IBM did," explains Rick Laney, manager at Heath Zenith Computers & Electronics in Indianapolis, a retailer of Macs and International Business Machines Corp. compatibles.

By trimming production time, Macintoshes allow more time for both creativity and revenue-producing activities, says Apple Computer's Patty Tulloch.

So - what exactly are ad agencies doing with these computers?

Often, agencies use a computer with a desktop publishing program to publish newsletters for clients. Copywriters write the stories and photo editors select pictures. When copy is corrected and photos are scanned, an art director lays out the pages on the screen, including graphic elements such as charts and borders. Then, the newsletter, which hasn't yet touched paper at this point, goes directly to the prepress house on diskette, avoiding typesetting and pasteup.

Most agencies are using computers not only because they simplify the process of integrating words and images but also, for most types of firms, because computers save money. A system that organizes art direction, word processing and bookkeeping should help an agency be more cost-efficient. "It (our system) saves us time. It's a nice working tool," says Harold Griese, manager of production services at Evansville's Keller-Crescent Co., the state's largest advertising-public relations agency and printing company.

Many agencies entered the computer age from the financial end, working quickly to word processing and finally to art direction. "We computerized our accounting eight years ago," says Michele Morgan, an account supervisor with The Juhl Agency, an advertising and public relations firm based in Mishawaka. "We then started doing a lot of word processing, then added computerized typesetting."

Both Juhl and Keller-Crescent are equipped with Macintosh hardware. Juhl started with IBMs and is converting to Macs. "The IBM learning curve is too sharp," Morgan explains.

An example of the time and money saved comes from the Indianapolis office of Mark Anderson Associates, Inc. For the past few years, the agency has produced product catalogs for Belden Wire and Cable in Richmond. Until last year when it was entered onto a computer file, the 400-page catalog had to be retyped entirely, even though yearly revisions were minimal. Belden and Anderson invested in the one-time extra expense of typing the catalog into a Macintosh.

That investment, according to Anderson Project Coordinator Kim Symmes, has already paid off. This year's revisions were not only easier but they were also cheaper. According to Symmes' estimates, the old method of retyping each page cost the client approximately $150 per page. Now, she says, revisions cost a third of that: $50 per page.

Scott Montgomery, art director at Young & Laramore in Indianapolis, feels so passionately about Macintoshes that two years ago when he started work at the firm, he offered to buy it a Macintosh. Now, the agency has several computers for its copywriters and artists. "We use it as a way to work out ideas, as a design tool in the same way that a pencil is a design tool," says Montgomery. "I don't know if I'd know how to do a logo the traditional way anymore."

Macintoshes are frequently a link between ad agencies and their corporate clients. Sometimes, for example, clients bring the text of their annual reports to Young & Laramore on diskettes, says Montgomery.

The use of computers by agencies also allows clients more control over the finished product. Agencies using computers typically show "proof" copies of the ads or newsletters to clients before finalizing the design and sending it to press.

But not all ad agencies are hooked into the high-tech world of computer design. For some agencies, computers may not be cost-effective, depending on the volume and type of work they do. Caldwell VanRiper in Fort Wayne is an example of an established, well-respected agency that has opted not to join the techno-designer ranks. Copywriters and clerical workers at CVR use word processors but after running a cost-benefit analysis, the question of investing in Macintoshes for designers was given the thumbs down.

"We looked into it very seriously and came within a day of buying it," says Lynn Clough, corporate business manager for CVR in Fort Wayne. "We can't really see a long-term gain by getting a Macintosh in here."

Clough doesn't rule out the computer option, though. "It depends on the volume of business, as far as I'm concerned, and the type of business," she says. "We've definitely kept our cost analyses on file."

Now, corporations with in-house marketing and design segments are recognizing the same virtues that make computers so attractive to many advertising agencies and design firms. "Seventy-five percent of all Mac sales are going into ad agencies, design firms and printers," says Heath Zenith's Laney. "The other 25 percent are corporate America."

Thomson Consumer Electronics is one of those corporate clients that Laney has fixed up with a Macintosh system. Paul Taroli, a member of Thomson's human resource development staff, was the company's first Macintosh designer two years ago. On the Mac, Taroli produces company brochures, training manuals, forms, fliers, invitations and anything else that is tossed his way. "We really do find a lot of use for them," he says.

John Smith, director of marketing for Plymouth-based Aker Plastics, says that his work load at the bathtub-manufacturing company was becoming so great, something had to be done. Convincing his company to purchase a computer was fairly easy. "It was either hire people or get a computer," explains Smith.

Smith has had only about six months to get accustomed to his company's new Macintosh design system. "Being a novice on it, I went through the intimidation factor," he says. "That lasted about a month."

Now, though, Smith is counting the benefits. Jobs that used to take him three weeks to produce the old, manual way, now take him four days. The computer also helps him juggle more projects simultaneously. "I can effectively work on six different projects now," he continues.

In-house marketing departments in companies as diverse as a South Bend grocery chain and a Batesville "pre-need" funeral arrangement service are saving time and money with design computers. The merchandising department of South Bend's Martin Supermarkets has been using Macintoshes for just the past two months, according to Dawn Kuhn, an advertising assistant with the company. Designers in the merchandising department produce weekly coupon sheets, brochures and fliers, which are then printed by the company's in-house printer.

Though the nature of the business is very different, the use of computers in the marketing department at Batesville's Forethought Group is much the same as at Martin's. Graphic designers at Forethought, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hillenbrand Industries, Inc., produce company brochures, announcements, invitations and a newsletter that is distributed to funeral directors nationwide, says Sally Chamliss, a communications specialist at Forethought.

Prepress service bureaus exist to produce the final version of Mac-produced text and artwork. Tango in Indianapolis is one such prepress company that is able to run typesetting services from Macintosh files for projects as simple as a single-page brochure to as complex as a weekly 80-page newspaper. The company works with publications such as the Indianapolis Business Journal, Indianapolis Weekly Update and Indiana Business magazine, all of which first design their publications on Macintoshes.

Tango blends the high-tech wonders of the Macintosh with traditional film assembly. Partners Richard Uphus and Rick Spilly say that Macintoshes work especially well for publications. "As soon as it leaves the office on disk, everyone can be reasonably certain what it's going to look like," says Uphus.

NUVO News, a new weekly general-interest newspaper in Indianapolis, also uses Macintoshes for all its design and word processing needs. For Editor-In-Chief Ronald Tierney, the decision to set up the newspaper on Macintoshes was an easy one. "I knew how friendly it was," he explains. Macs let artists and writers remain what they are, he says. It doesn't necessitate that they become computer whizzes. "I wanted them to stay artists and writers."

Of course, the Mac design revolution has not ended. One of the latest systems that interfaces with Macintosh hardware allows for computer manipulation of photos, which can save clients money and time. Juhl's Morgan says equipment manufactured by Scitex Corporation of Bedford, Mass., works wonders with photos that agencies might otherwise be forced to reshoot. "We've done some really neat things, and totally changed how a photograph has looked," she says. Keller-Crescent has its own Scitex system, as do Magna Graphic and Ropkey Graphics in Indianapolis.

GRI Graphic Communications in Elkhart uses a similar, competing system: the Crosfield 835 Studio system. The Elkhart company has had its system in place for the past year, according to Brock Rose, GRI's administrative coordinator. The system, says Rose, is ideal for brochure work, which is the bulk of GRI's business. An eight-page brochure, he estimates, can be done in just a couple of hours. Clients, most of whom are from the recreational-vehicle or musical-instrument industries, can then see full-color proofs of their brochures before they are made into negatives and printed. This drastically cuts down on errors.

Ned Klotz, general manager of Indianapolis' Magna Graphic, points out that the Scitex system allows advertising agencies and corporate clients to design layouts on their own systems and bring in the disks. Then, it's time for magic.

Klotz cites an example of a client that is a national seafood restaurant chain. As part of an advertising campaign, the chain had produced a poster of eight children. After Magna Graphic ran the color proof, the restaurant chain personnel decided that in order to represent the diversity of its customers better, some of the children should be black, Hispanic and Asian. No need for another expensive photo shoot; by using its Scitex Visionary computer, Magna was able to enhance some of the features of the kids and convincingly change their appearances.

Most of Ropkey's clients are advertising agencies that are putting to good use its high-end prepress system. The Scitex's strength lies in its ability to skip the traditional, time-consuming interim steps in creating negatives for these clients, notes Deborah Linett, technical director at Ropkey. "That's a very slow process," she says of traditional prepress. Today, she adds, customers are demanding finished products in one day.

PHOTO : Putting the finishing touches on this month's cover of Indiana Business: The Mac saves typesetting and pasteup charges.

PHOTO : GNP Products in Ligonier, a manufacturer of marching band accessories, wanted to highlight its products in its brochure. GRI Graphic Communications in Elkhart produced the "phantom" models with the help of the Macintosh computer and Crosfield system.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Apple Computer Inc.; Macintosh computer
Author:Johnson, Guy; Church, Melinda
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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