82.1 F
San Fernando
Friday, Jun 9, 2023

All in the Packaging

The three-member team running LAGraphico isn’t hesitant about how it feels about new formats for the home entertainment market. They love format changes. As standard DVDs transition to high-def Blu-Ray and HDVD that means more work for the Burbank firm as movie and television titles are re-released. As LAGraphico most likely did the packaging for the original release and have all the necessary images and content and whatnot, studios are less likely to go elsewhere for the re-release packaging. “Someone has to do the packaging; someone has to do the marketing and that’s where we come in,” said Dan Stillwell, one of the three principals in the company founded by his parents in 1978. The entertainment industry remains the core client base for the company but in recent years, Stillwell, brother Tom and long-time family friend Brandon Gabriel have taken on other clients, including retail, telecommunications and gaming companies. Nokia, for instance, is one of those new companies. LAGraphico designed the displays used by Nokia to sell its phones in retail chains. The displays allow for consumers to look at and use the phones yet also make the devices secure so they can’t be stolen, said Alexis Versace, senior marketing manager/visual merchandising for Nokia. “We didn’t have branding presence before and now we now do,” Versace said. Diversification makes sense for the company as rentals and downloads cut into the profits the studios make from their home entertainment releases which in turn leads to a decrease in the home entertainment budget. “We are changing the company to be able to mold to what’s going to happen in the future,” Gabriel said. Al and Liz Shapiro started LAGraphico in 1978 and moved the printing brokerage company to Burbank in 1986. A second facility was opened in 1999 when the company began printing operations. The two buildings were consolidated into one in 2003, the company’s present location on Vanowen Street near Bob Hope Airport. Second company Also in 2003 was the launch of Midnight Oil, a separate company that creates original artwork for packaging, marketing materials and permanent displays and is overseen by Tom Stillwell. Midnight Oil’s offices are on the second floor of the LAGraphico building. The creative company has dabbled in the creation of websites and flash ads although that has not become a big focus as of yet. Embracing new technology is what Al Shapiro did during his time as printing work moved away from the use of Mylar, film and light tables to computers. “He jumped in and everyone else followed at least that’s what it seems like in the L.A. area,” Gabriel said. Al Shapiro is retired although he maintains a seat on the company’s board of directors. Liz Shapiro passed away in 2004, setting into motion the current leadership for the company when Dan Stillwell stepped into the CEO position held by his mother. While there had never been a question of Dan Stillwell taking over the company, the death of Liz Shapiro made it happen earlier than expected. The transition, however, was smooth as Dan Stillwell was familiar with the company having worked there since he was young, first during school vacations and then as a full-time employee starting in 1995. “We were prepared for it,” Dan Stillwell said. “We had the people in place and had the plans in place to do that.” While his business card may read CEO, Dan Stillwell said the title means little as the lines are blurred between himself, brother Tom and Gabriel. Each of the principals complements the other; with the weakness of one being a strength of one of the others. Working together The best thing about having the three of them operating the company is they are all different but they all understand each other, Tom Stillwell said. “It’s helpful when making one decision because we’re not seeing one side of an issue,” Tom Stillwell added. “We are seeing all the sides.” Tom Stillwell was not as involved with the company while growing up as his older brother. Still, he logged time as a customer service representative and a manager before helming Midnight Oil. Overseeing the creative division definitely suits Tom Stillwell’s personality, Gabriel said. “He’s build it up with his energy,” Gabriel added. Ideas for packaging and marketing and promotional materials are generated ins everal ways. The client can come in with the ideas, or they can brainstorm with Midnight Oil staffers on how to present a product. But the company has also devised on its own campaigns for athletic wear company Nike and video game publisher Activision. For the Nokia cell phone displays, Versace said she brings in the creative criteria and lets the firm take it from there. “They are very resourceful and solution oriented,” Versace said. “They’ve taken the lead where a lot of our initiatives have followed their direction.” The creative side helps with the diversification in that new marketing ideas used initially for entertainment clients can be tweaked for the others. The company lends that expertise to the non-entertainment client and can do it at a minimal cost because the company has already done the design or product, Gabriel said.

Featured Articles

Related Articles