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Taking the "High Road" - new Michael's ad campaign

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Rob Markoff, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    I was surprised to open my July issue of San Diego Magazine to find a full page ad for Michaels framing.

    San Diego Magazine is a high end magazine whose audience are clearly not "bottom feeders."

    The ad is extremely well produced and obviously aimed at a wealthy population.

    American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

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  2. Kyle Henson

    Kyle Henson CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Things that make you go hhhmmm. I wonder if it will roll out nationwide. I advertise in our version of that magazine, New Orleans Magazine, which appears to be a similar audience. I have not seen that Michael's campaign here, yet.
  3. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I still think their "Michaels" font looks cheeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzy ...... :popc:
  4. William Ross

    William Ross CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    But Rob I didn't see the 60% discount. If their advertising gets people thinking about Custom Framed artwork it could help everyone. As I have said before--We can not run a advertising program like the big box stores. They offer a much more limited selection for the customer then most independent frame shops who can offer thousands of moulding from the top vendors.

    We need to look at this as a good thing for the framing industry.
  5. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    I read that PureRed out of Atlanta was doing some re-branding for them. I reckon "Michaels Frame Shoppe" was part of that.
  6. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes, but it's a "Shoppe" so it must be high class. :)
  7. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    At the very least Michael's is advertizing custom picture framing to the masses.
  8. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God


    This is good advertising and not based on false price promotions.
  9. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If I was going to go to the trouble and expense to publish a glossy ad like that I sure as shootin' would not have used the exact same matting in the two frames depicted.
  10. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Pop in tomorrow and ask for some Olde Worlde Frenche Mattyng. :smiley:
  11. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not as far fetched as you might think. I've seen a lot of people, framers included, refer to those borders around art as "mattes."
  12. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    We can be sure no framer proofed the ad. I'm sure it is just a reflection or something but it looks like the one has a dent in the gold lip/liner. Could also be truth in advertising since many frames come to the shops with dings in them.
  13. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Michaels new custom framing ad looks pretty bad. They really need to find something they're good at.
  14. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The bottom right corner of the frame at the back looks a tad weird. :shrug::icon11:
  15. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think it's just the way it was cropped for the magazine.
  16. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think you guys are all being a bit hyper picky. Sure it is fun and easy to bash them, but the reality is they are at war with us and they have really hurt the independent frame shop.
  17. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Dave echos my feelings. I posted this ad because I have not seen this type of a campaign from Michaels.

    I was also recently invited to see the "new" prototype for AAron Brothers (it was also featured in DDI Magazine - and should be available to see on-line).
    The whole store has been "REINVENTED" but whether it will be a successful changeover remains to be seen. I will say that the store is a complete departure to what we are used to seeing.

    I wouldn't spend so much time criticizing the ad but would suggest that you get your houses in order. Yes, there is no 60% off and you have to agree it is a much more upscale ad - and one whose cost most framers cannot afford. I only run a 1/2 page ad in the same magazine and have been the only framer in the magazine for at least a year.

    I do a lot of install work in multi-million dollar homes (which ironically doesn't mean much because "entry" level homes are about $1mil)......but I digress.

    I usually come into a mansion type home to find a STACK of newly framed family photos all with Michael's (or AAron Brothers) stickers on them that the client's want hung in a grouping. If Michael's did install work, I am sure they would have used them too. They didn't come to me for framing, but want to use my installation services, which I am happy to offer.

    Nonetheless, the fact that Michaels is going after the "upper end" consumer does give one cause for additional concern.
  18. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Haha, good catch. That's some professional real design advice.
  19. Less

    Less SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    looks a little like desperation to Less. ....and the walls come tumbling down
  20. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    It's a nice ad and no one should take the power of the BBs for granted.

    I just can't help looking at the ad from a photo studio point of view.

    Somewhere, some art director, at some ad agency has this vision of selling custom framing to upscale consumers.

    They chose to frame a B&W art print with an ornate wood frame with a gold lip enhancer. I count four mats and a fillet. That seven lines and six colors around the B&W art.

    Frame package is cheesy & old fashion.
    Next to the frame is an old film camera- obsolete.
    Film camera next to old worn books.

    This is how some art director sees their grandparents..... errrr I mean....the custom frame customer.

  21. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We're all critics, but to the consumer none of these things probably matter. However, from a business standpoint, what does it mean, if anything?
  22. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is surely a sign of the apocalypse, but Paul is right. Not a single consumer is going to notice or care about the nits we're picking. Instead of carping on every tiny perceived flaw or imperfection we should be spurred to up our own game.

    Do I hear thundering horses outside?
  23. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Just read Rob's post, and skipped to the end to post this:

    two observations:

    1. the wealthy didn't get there by being dumb spenders
    2. three ladies, part-time artists, came in today, and were price shopping. I mentioned Michaels, and got back a truckload of guffaws. Michaels' reputation around here has been run into the ground because of their phony discounts, and the impression is that they are the most expensive of all framers.
  24. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Got to agree that most consumers wouldn't notice . I however wonder why they didn't use the very best glass in the industry - Masterpiece, I see a lot of reflections in those two frames.
  25. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Bottom line for me is that the design on both of the frames in the ad is horrible with the pictures that they used. So what does this say about them?
    4 mats and a fillet? What does a red mat add to a black and white picture?
    It looks like the silver frame in the back has a gold fillet in the mat. Why?
    The tan(?) fabric(?)outer mat on the one in the front does nothing for the picture.
    Putting "warm" colors on a "cool" picture in the front makes no sense to me.
    The three inner mats having about the same width is just distracting.
    The frames are also distracting.
    Other than that, they look great!:icon11:

    I have done tons of high end framing with design companies for clients in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley in AZ and we never put out carp that looks like those two pictures.
    It's almost like the idea is "more is better" and just pile everything in the shop on it.
  26. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Actually, it is my bad scan with ghosting from the print on the back of the page. There is no reflection in the actual ad. And I can't say I agree that it is the same picture in both photos. Perhaps the same subject matter, but not the exact same image.

    BTW- anyone know where the front photo was taken?
  27. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Same mats, not same images!

    Fugly frames!!! Way to distracting for such high contrast architectural shots.
  28. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is a repost from a couple of weeks ago but it would seem to be a good reply to the notion that we all need to step up our game.

    I stumbled across this site (via twitter) and ended up spending an hour browsing around.

    Look at the Blog section and client portfolio. See the section on Michaels.

    Lots of interesting content: Emerging Brands and Brands that are fading away, Store Design, Newsletter, Future of Retail, & State of the industry.

  29. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Just my thoughts;-
    -I don't think we should categorize clients as "bottom feeders" or "wealthy population". Affluent customers are probably more likely to look for bargains and use coupons.
    -Michaels does not want to give 50%-60% off on their framing services. They believe they HAVE to and it obviously has worked for them.
    -If 1000 independent frameshops across the country each contributed $1000/year to a co-op ad campaign, we could possibly compete and attract lots more customers.
    -If you ever visit a Michaels framing department, you will find it well organized, tidy and professional. A lot more I can say about many of our shops.
  30. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As I've said many times before on this forum (and it usually ends the conversation) I'm in. Who's collecting the money? Maybe someone should start a new thread to see how many shops are willing to do this. I'd gladly try to rally support from the framers in this area.
  31. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Start it up, Framer Cat; sketch out a bare-bones plan of action and put it up in the semi-private area.
  32. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    OK, watch for it in the next few days.
  33. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That seems to be true today, but let us not forget that Michaels started it. years ago, they recognized the disorganized, cottage-industry nature of small independent custom framers. Michaels and a few of their craft-retailing competitors have followed similar, carefully planned marketing strategies for well over a decade.

    By design, they have spent millions of dollars on professionally-developed ads to accomplish certain purposes, and they are still on track. At first they intended to reduce "custom framing" to a price-driven commodity, promoting deep discounts on inflated "reference" prices to attract their existing customer base, crafters. Then they expanded their reach toward non-crafting consumers, who have always been uninformed about the purposes and processes of custom framing. Slowly their ads have evolved to develop a reputation of quality and professionalism, which appeals to all consumers.

    By spending huge amounts of money on professionally-developed advertising campaigns, these savvy mass-marketers have taken over the custom framing market from the bottom up. Now in more-or-less complete control of American custom framing, they are approaching the top end, where the last vestiges of "professional custom framing" remain in the hands of the most-successful high-end framers. That is their next avenue for growth. Look for them to continue slowly replacing their strategy of deep-discounted, price-driven framing with a new strategy of professional design, high quality, and feature-driven framing. The deep discounts might remain, but "cheap framing" certainly will not be their focus in the future.
  34. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think maybe Michaels realizes that their days of touting sham sales is coming to an end. With AG's calling them out for cheating consumers, class action suits piling up, and consumers recognizing that M's pricing is not cheap, and not on sale, they need to find a new angle. However, for a store staffed by vest-wearing untrained help, surrounded by beads and plastic plants, playing the Quality card will not come easy, even if they bring in baristas and start serving cappuccinos.

    For the first time, Michaels is vulnerable to smart, well-operated, small competitors. There's a fair number of people on this forum who would compete at a high level if they were located within close proximity to a Michaels.
  35. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    PPFA, The Art & Framing Council, Framer Select, and a few other very-serious efforts have failed miserably in the past. Large numbers of framers vowed to support each of these consumer-marketing campaigns, but when the plans were developed and calls for participation came, framers found excuses not to respond. Even Jay Goltz, who spent a ton of his own money to develop and promote Framer Select, could not persuade framers to invest in marketing to consumers on a national or large regional scale.

    The small independent segment of the framing industry is weaker than ever and framers are even less likely to invest any of their own money to support a large scale campaign targeting consumers. But if anyone comes up with a bold, fool-proof plan, it would require tens of thousands of dollars to develop it and promote it to framers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in professional campaign development and consumer advertising to show any gain.

  36. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    London. That strange building is 30 St Mary Axe, better known as The Gherkin.
  37. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Assuming that Michaels is rebranding itself as the traditional quality framing company, we on the Grumble should come up with a well-thought-out set of marketing ideas to counteract these guys and keep this space. We own quality and tradition, and should demonstrate this big time.

    Who's first with an idea?

    quality, value, and traditionally great designs - your independent picture framer.
  38. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Just bear in mind that any registered member can view the semi-private area, and
    it's a very safe bet that some someones from Michaels fall into that category.
  39. Less

    Less SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It didn't work for JCP why do you think it will work for Michaels?
  40. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I still say I am thrilled to see Michael's do more upscale advertising than newspaper coupon-type-price-slashing advertising reducing framing to a commodity. Anytime anyone plants a seed that custom framing is a good choice for home decoration and preserving memories we all benefit. I love it when other advertising incorporates a frame within the ad for the very same reason.

    Pick the ad apart all you want. I do agree that the frame design is poor and hope the consumer might agree, but still the seed is planted and my door is open and ready to serve the consumer who appreciates the difference.
  41. Less

    Less SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Kind of my thought too.

    They just realized the middle-class has no money now?

    Those that can afford custom framing, seek out those that provide personalized service. Custom framing is a service industry. They want great service, fair prices, great design, great products and choice. They seek help, creativity and problem solvers.

    Good luck to Michaels.
  42. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Jim your point is well taken, but the difference today is not about should we compete, but rather how to compete. Our businesses themselves and providing for our families are at stake.
    I believe co-operation is the only way. However, successful business is rarely a democracy. So that is the challenge.

    As independents we do have some advantages:-
    -We are able to adapt faster.
    -We can offer excellent customer service. The big boxes can never compete. (They will always hire semi-qualified employees and not reward the adequately).
    -The Internet is here and it can help level the marketing playing field.
    -There will always be shipping costs involved with selling real items online.
    I believe these are the keys.

    As successful co-op program will need to include the following:-
    -Some level of discounting. It is just a fact of business.
    -Many frameshops/galleries on board.
    -Low or no upfront cost to the participants.
    -Be self-sustaining.

    I have some ideas and will compile and share.
  43. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Do you think that the organizers of these campaigns would be willing to share the details of what they were planning, how it was organized, the medium they intended to use, how they contacted framers (because I have never been contacted by any of them), what kind of requirements framers would have to adhere to, the message of the advertising, and all of the other relevant data that may have discouraged framers from participating? How active was the recruiting process and how gung-ho were the organizers? I understand that there are a lot of difficulties in organizing framers for any reason, because I have tried working on regional campaigns with other local framers. Maybe these people did exhaust all possible avenues and it is just impossible, but who does it hurt to try again. Jim, you are very insightful and have a great deal of experience in the industry and very good ideas, so I would want your help and encouragement if I were to make a proposal. I think that if we were to try this again we would all have to go into it with an optimistic point of view. If it has failed before let's figure out exactly why it failed and come up with ways to make it better. Let's build up this idea instead of bringing it down.

  44. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Sorry CB, I think we posted at about the same time, but I'm with you 100%. I'll add my ideas and experiences to your thread or you can add to mine. Post as soon as you have something.
  45. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    You could add Paul Cascio's name as well. He came up with IMO a great idea a couple of years ago for local cable ads and even produced great demo spots but could not even get the necessary mass of maybe 5 - 10 framers in a local area to pony up just a few dollars per store.

    It is always an uphill battle. I tried to form a merchant co-op in my old locations center. I even got the landlord on board to price match for advertising if we could raise a measly $6,000 between a dozen or more tenants. Everybody thought it was a great idea and opportunity until they were asked to write their check.

    With all of that said, I would rather see Michael's doing this type of ad than their phoney %Offs, wouldn't you.
  46. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As someone already said, both photos are from London. Would love to go back there soon.

    Someone else commented about the colors. Red is a common accent color in rooms. I use it one one of my own. In my shop I'd say about once a month we find ourselves putting a red mat on something that is black and white. Occasionally another color is used like blue, yellow, green, etc. But when we put a color on a b/w image, I'd bet red is the color of choice 3 times out of 4.

    As for my thoughts, I like the advertising. While I'm sure M's wants to drive business to their stores, the ad seems much more likely to raise general awareness of custom picture framing than it does to bring them business in particular. Their logo is so small and stylized that most people probably won't notice it or remember who created the ad.... but it might remind them that they have some photos that need framing at their favorite framer.
  47. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    About Framer Select...

    We joined up with Framer Select right off the bat, back when cost of entry was $120/month. It was unfortunate that the concept never reached the critical mass that was needed. Nevertheless, we saw some benefits from the short-lived program even though the referral aspect never gained much traction for us. One big disappointment was that though there were some really smart operators that were members, there never really was any sharing that went on; most of what we gleaned from the program knowledge-wise was due to purposeful networking. Most of those guys are now out of the industry.

    Forum thread from Jay Goltz, the founder of Framer Select, here:

    Some other forum threads here:



  48. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks this was very helpful. I think I see a problem right away. Framer Select was eliminating too many potential investors. Why would you not want to take money from chain stores, franchises and home based businesses? I would not have qualified because I own three locations which according to state law makes me a chain store. Some of the best framers in the country have multiple locations. I will be studying all that you have provided. Thanks again.

  49. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Quickly browsing throught all the answers, so I might have missed some answers.

    It seems that no one is concerned at all?????

    I AM!

    First they took away the price shopping customers. Sure, we all can beat those phony prices, but that is not what the general public thinks. Quite a few independent framers followed up with a poster package, so customer could compare.

    Now they are going after the high end of the market, which is where quite a few of us are specializing. I am concerned that M's would take that away from us independents.

    Sure, it might bring some more awareness to the general public. It might also bring it to the attention of those high end customers who never even KNEW that M's was doing any framing and believe me, I come across that often enough as well.

    I cannot never be as visible in the market as a M's can, I simply don't have the budget for advertising.

    As for the nit picking, yes, I agree about the bad design and so on, but most customers now will think that that is how b/w need to be framed, with a splash of color to make it 'pop'. It might become even more difficult to convince customers that it distracts from the photo/art/etc since they 'saw it in a high end magazine'.
  50. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Unfortunately, I think that while Jay saw the writing on the wall, it was too soon. The average framer didn't see the need for it at the time. Whether it would work now or not is another story, but I think it could.

    FramerCat's numbers - 1000 framers at $1000 ea comes to a million dollars. $1000/year is, I believe, a very reasonable price to be a part of a national advertising campaign with local referrals, and a million dollars a year in advertising would not go unnoticed.
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