• 05.09.12

How One Brand Turned An Annoyance Into A Utility: The Watermark Project

Instead of creating an ad campaign for client Getty, R/GA London re-imagined a necessary, but unloved, brand feature.

How One Brand Turned An Annoyance Into A Utility: The Watermark Project

R/GA London, which became the brand and digital agency of record for Getty Images this past March, didn’t waste any time in addressing one of the brand’s major issues head on: We’re talking about the unpopular Getty Images watermark.


Rather than creating an ad campaign promoting their client’s service, R/GA focused its attention on an inescapable attribute of the product itself, transforming what is a necessary evil into something that is at the very least useful now.

The thing is a drag. You’ve seen it. It’s a “gettyimages” logo that is slapped on photographs owned by the world’s largest image bank, and, well, it ruins them. That’s the idea, of course. Otherwise, you’d have people swiping Getty Images photos of say, Paris or penguins and posting them on their blogs or making prints out of them without paying for the rights.

But while the logo helps to thwart theft, it is also an annoying obstacle to legit buyers who really want to get a good look at an image before investing in it.

The Watermark Project introduces a new iteration of the watermark, which is now a custom URL that takes viewers of a particular image directly to the Getty Images page where they can purchase the photo, find additional information on when and where it was taken, and search for similar shots. The custom–and purposely short–URL also creates an easy way to bookmark a photo that you, or an agency art buyer, might want to buy down the road. Additionally, Getty Images is now including photo credits on its images, acknowledging the photographers whose work makes up its library.

And bowing to pressure not to plaster its logo in the center of a photo, the new watermark and photo credit are placed “sympathetically” off to the lower right side corner of images where, hopefully, they won’t be as much of a distraction.
(Note: The Watermark Project is in testing on Getty’s site now and is set to roll out soon).

About the author

Christine Champagne is a New York City-based journalist best known for covering creativity in television and film, interviewing the talent in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes. She has written for outlets including Emmy, Variety,, Redbook, Time Out New York and