By Stan Schwartz
Remember Bob Hope’s theme song “Thanks For The Memory”?
That’s the thought that runs through my mind as my retirement from Rosco approaches. I’ve been associated with the company for some 35 years. And I hope everyone reading this has as much delight in their careers as I have had in mine.
Print ad from the late 1970's that showcases Bill Fraker's work on "The Heretic - Exorcist II"
Part of the reason for this delight has been the industries with which Rosco has been most closely involved. I was in love with the performing arts before I was married to Rosco … and I still spend an inordinate amount of my time at the theatre, opera, ballet and movies. And I continue to wonder at the artistry of the designers, filmmakers, choreographers and artisans, many of whom I’ve met and worked with.
A 2013 version of customer-oriented advertising; a digital tutorial on stage lighting.
It’s not just the lighting designers, set builders, directors of photography and tech directors who have lit up the past three decades for me. It’s also the community of Rosco dealers and distributors around the world who have quietly – but effectively – help build the industry to what it is today. Manufacturers like Rosco get the credit (and deserve it) for creating products to enable our creative customers to do their job better. But without the dealers and distributors, most of those creative people would not have been able to see and evaluate the products, or to understand how they fit (or don’t fit!) their needs.
Rosco's 'Where to Buy' page directory of Rosco dealers
I know whereof I speak, because for most of those three decades my charge was to market not just the familiar Rosco products like gels, gobos, fog machines and dance floors, but the raft of new products we produced each year. We’d never have been as successful as we have in both familiar and new products, without the help of an engaged and often enthusiastic community of dealers.
Marketing, Now and Then
I grew up in the marketing world. In fact, I started my career writing print ads in an advertising agency much like the one you see depicted in the “Mad Men” series on TV. But just as lighting and set building in theatre and film has changed so has the marketing. We used to publish catalogs, now we have websites. We used to send mailers, now we communicate and advertise digitally. We still call each other on the phone, but Twitter, Facebook and YouTube now carry a lot of the marketing information.
But one thing hasn’t changed, at least at Rosco. Whether it’s social media or magazine ads, electronic direct mail or flyers at a trade show. The focus, for Rosco at least, continues to be how does this product help the customer do his or her job better? Customers now include lighting designers, set builders, filmmakers, but also event coordinators, dance studio owners, still photographers, technical directors, architects … and a lot of others besides. That focus has led us to solicit and publish case histories, tutorials and essays, showing how he or she used a Rosco product to achieve a specific result.
Tutorial on how the Milwaukee Public Museum used FoamCoat.
It’s a lot easier to run ads that show a big picture of the product and a list of product features … and many manufacturers find that effective. But that ain’t the usual Rosco style; we moved past that a number of years ago. It takes a little more effort to stay focused on the customer, instead of the vendor – but I think it’s worth it.
Electronic direct mail showcasing Custom LitePads' in Dior's Madison Ave. flagship stores.
I’ll be here at Rosco for a little while to assist in the transition to a new and much gifted team. I’m sure they will continue the Rosco traditions of customer focus, albeit in their own way.
And I sure hope they have as much fun as I did.
Stan Schwartz, Rosco's Executive Vice President for more than three decades, will be VP/Marketing-Emeritus.