GM&A takes an all-in-one approach

One-stop shopping in theory and practice has been around for years.One manifestation of the all-in-one approach has been the hypermarket, whose ancestors are the French and Belgian 'hyper-marches' swarmed by British tourists seeking a greater range of products under one roof...

One-stop shopping in theory and practice has been around for years.

One manifestation of the all-in-one approach has been the hypermarket, whose ancestors are the French and Belgian ‘hyper-marches’ swarmed by British tourists seeking a greater range of products under one roof than found at home.

And on this side of the Atlantic, telecommunications company Unitel has promoted the one-stop shopping idea to the public.

So too has GM&A Advertising in Mississauga, Ont., an all-in-one operation.

From idea to printer

The firm can take an idea for advertising material or catalogues or brochures from scratch to the final film ready for the printer.

What such a service does for marketers, of course, is both simplify production and at the same time speed it up.

Gene Mann, president and co-founder of gm&a, says his 72-person company can do everything under one roof from creative concept to final high resolution film proofs.

‘We do the creative all the way through to final film,’ Mann says.

‘We do the photography, we do the typesetting and the art, and we do the final film as well, which is unique from the standpoint of all being done under one roof,’ he says.

Electronically

He says everything – design, photography, production – is passed along electronically at gm&a so corrections, alterations or improvements can be made at any stage.

Says Mann: ‘The fact that we’re able to do all of those things electronically makes it a lot easier to make changes; it gives you turnaround times which you can’t do any other way.

‘And if you have to go to three or four different places to get those kinds of things done it can take a long time,’ he says.

‘The ability to be able to turn around very quickly is, I think, a real advantage to the major retailers and also to the major manufacturers.’

As an example of how speedy the all-in-one process can be, Mann cites the case of a client, Sharp Electronics of Canada, part of the Japanese electronics conglomerate.

He says Sharp had sold a major client in Montreal about $500,000 worth of product, then asked gm&a, which earlier had won the company’s advertising account in a four-shop review, to produce a magazine ad for the next day for insertion in En Route, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine.

Creative

‘All we’d done at that point was the creative,’ Mann says.

‘We came back to the studio and put it together, and through the approval process of faxing back and forth to Montreal [Air Canada headquarters] the ad left here that day and went to En Route magazine,’ he says.

Mann says to turn around 30 to 50 pages a day is not a problem.

Mann, who founded gm&a with Boje Pederson in 1979, calls the company’s idea-to-final-film process The Magic Link.

Built around Scitex retouching stations – a technology developed in Israel – the Magic Link uses Apple and Hewlett Packard computers and Kodak film for photography, design, typography, computer graphics, electronic image manipulation, final film, digital proofs and Kodak Signature proofs.

gm&a also has video production facilities, and provides media planning and buying, as well as program and promotion management.

‘The days of the artboards will very soon disappear,’ Mann says.

Least accurate

‘Yes, there will still be a couple of people who [will use them], but the fact that you can move the electronic file from creative all the way through to final film, I don’t know how you can touch that with an artboard because an artboard is the least accurate of anything you can have,’ he says.

Mann says the result of these capabilities comes down to four – or five if it is a production in French – pieces of film.

He says the Kodak Signature proofs show the client what the printed article will look like.

On staff at gm&a are 14 filmmakers and systems operators, 15 photographers who shoot fashion and hardline pictures, and a couple of copywriters.

Mann says the company recognizes the importance of technology, but also recognizes it is just a means to an end.

Much more important, he says, are staff who have the talent and creativity to drive the technology rather than use it, or even worse, rely on it.

Mann, who relocated the various elements of gm&a under one 50,000-square-foot roof five years ago, says the computer hardware configuration cost his company more than $3 million.

He says the software the company uses was custom-done, noting wryly, ‘We’ve had lots of fun with our software.’

The attractiveness of gm&a’s facilities is reflected in its client list.

Mann says the company has more than 100 clients, among them some of the better-known corporate names in the country.

As well as Sharp Electronics, gm&a does work for Sears Canada, Consumers Distributing, Carlson Marketing Group, the posh department store Holt Renfrew, and the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation.

Rob Stonehewer, director of marketing at Carlson, says his company has dealt with gm&a for the last six years.

Stonehewer says Mann’s firm has produced three gift incentive catalogues for Carlson, each two years apart.

The latest, he says, is a 64-page book with more than 500 color photographs in it.

Stonehewer, who admits his company’s catalogues are difficult jobs and that he is something of a perfectionist, says the strength of gm&a is the staff and equipment it has all under one roof.

Egle Bottos, manager of the publications unit of the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation, says gm&a, a contractor for the ministry for three years, designs and brings to final film 20 publications for Culture, Tourism and Recreation’s printers.

Like Stonehewer, Bottos is bullish on gm&a, echoing his view that having everything under one roof just makes things easier to deal with, rather like her ministry where the Ontario government recently amalgamated Culture and Tourism and Recreation under one roof.