Ask an Agent / What fee for a National Advertising Campaign?

Lisa Portrait Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column that answers all your dilemmas about the business of photography – a sort of photography agony aunt.

This month on Ask an Agent, the ever popular subject of how much to quote for fees.

I've been commissioned for a cover shot and feature by a magazine. They have a specified day rate, but have also asked me what percentage I would charge them for 12 months' full rights usage, as it might go into the company's national advertising campaign. I only deal with editorial features usually, and I'm used to just being told what their day rate is. With no experience in dealing with advertising usage, I'm a bit stuck!

Thanks for your help!


It’s interesting your client has asked for additional usage costs as a percentage rather than a simple fee, and it does complicate things slightly. However I think the best way to approach it is to work out a fair figure for the usage generally and work out the percentage from there.

But first I have a few questions:

Does your client want to use your standalone images in the campaign or will they be using your image in the context of the cover- i.e might the campaign  be to advertise the magazine itself or for something separate?

- The shoot was actually associated with one of the magazines advertisers and as such more of an advertorial promotional piece, the images would be used in a separate advertising campaign for this advertiser.

What is the subject matter, did the shoot involve a model or anything in particular that we need to consider releases or permits?

- The shoot was of one model on location in their garden. The model and location were organised by the magazine, so my advise would be to make sure you have in writing on your estimate and invoice for further usage something along the lines of ‘ photographer takes no responsibility for third party clearances including additional usage fees for models and location fees’ so you are covered. It’s worth putting this somewhere clearly but also should be included as standard in your terms. You need to be so careful with extra usage when photography includes models.

What would the 'National Advertising Campaign’ consist of. I assume , press, posters, online, direct mail? The more media, theoretically the higher the fee.

- Your client’s request is slightly ambiguous, do they want ‘full rights’ or rights to use the images for a ‘National Advertising Campaign’ for 1 year? Full rights could imply the intention is to use the images for longer than the 1 year period and perhaps overseas ( when quoting usage the 3 main areas to bear in mind are media, time and territory) I know it might seem unlikely but if you did grant a ‘full rights’ usage licence then they would be totally entitled to this. It’s so important to pin usage down so a fair fee can be quoted.

What fee did you get originally if you don’t mind me asking? I just need to know this so we have a starting point .

- The day rate turned out to be £600, however this not only included editorial usage in the magazine it also included below the line usage for the client. Below the line usage is basically anything other than press advertising and posters ( and TV but that is less relevant to stills shoots), so would include all online usage including social media, phone and tablet apps, printed direct mail and other literature, advertorial, PR and client internal communications, for the UK, for 1 year. I would say this is quite a low fee and initially should have been in excess of £800, but I appreciate it is a regional specialist magazine and magazines unlike advertising agencies seem to have set rates, anyway that wasn’t the question!

Ok, so now I have a clearer picture let’s work out a figure. Taking into consideration the fact that you have already been commissioned for a separate agreed fee , that this is additional usage and that the original usage was for a regional magazine , a very competitive day rate for an advertising campaign for 1 year, UK only, including all the aforementioned media would be around £1800-£2000. Based on your initial daily rate of £600 this would work out to 300% as a percentage if we decide to quote £1800. That’s what I meant by it being complicated, £2000 is actually more of an appropriate fee but then the percentage would be 333.333!?

The other thing you need to be careful about when quoting percentages is that everyone understands the total figure as it can be confusing. In this situation you should say the percentage increase based on the original fee of £600 should be 300%, i.e for additional usage rights for National Advertising Campaign the additional usage fees will be £1800. So in total for the editorial usage , below the line and above the line, 1 years, UK, the total figure would be £2400.

This is the easy bit, now you have to get your client to appreciate this is a fair fee, a skill in itself. But I can confidently say that this is absolutely a fair fee for the usage they are asking and I am suggesting the lower end of the scale as the shoot was originally for a regional editorial piece. There must be a media budget and consumer press advertising and billboard space does not come cheap, also it will be cheaper for the client to buy additional usage on your images than recommission a whole shoot so you should be in quite a strong position. Hope that helps, good luck!

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