Jack Daniel's manufacturer deploys digital asset management system to cut advertising costs

June 5, 2007

4 Min Read
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- EMC World -- Beverage company Brown-Forman saved $28 million in just 12 months after deploying a digital asset management system.

The Louisville, Ky.-based company, which is responsible for producing Jack Daniel's and Fetzer wine, deals with more than 40 international advertising agencies and a slew of smaller local firms. Prior to deploying a digital asset management system, the firm was confronted with serious costs whenever it wanted to send an ad out to a magazine or newspaper. "Our agencies were charging us around $700 for burning an image to a CD," said Rob Price, Brown-Forman's lead business systems analyst, during a presentation here today.

With around 4,000 separate ads, each of which had up to five separate file formats, Brown Forman's costs were escalating. "It was so high that marketing was willing to spend money on technology," joked Price.

The solution was Digital Asset Manager software from EMC's Documentum division, which was deployed in early 2005 as a central online repository for the company's images. Dubbed the Brand Asset Resource (BAR) system, the repository initially contained 4,000 images, a figure which has since grown to 22,000, just over a Tbyte of data.

The costly process of burning images onto CDs and mailing them around the world has been replaced with a Web link that allows ad agencies to access images and forward them to publications in electronic format. Price explained that 36,000 hi-resolution assets were downloaded in the system's first year. "Looking strictly at the agency fees that would have been paid without BAR [for burning and mailing CDs], we saved approximately $28 million in the first year."Despite significant savings, the up-front cost for the asset management software was sizable, and Price confirmed that he spent around $2 million with Documentum.

Brown-Forman evaluated products from around 10 different vendors prior to deploying Digital Asset Manager, which won out partly because of its add-on features. "They had an invoice processing third party tool that we could deploy on top of Documentum," said Price, although he would not reveal which other vendors were in the frame.

The firm spent about four months shifting advertisements over to the BAR system from the start of January 2005, before finally going live in April of that year.

Like many IT managers, Price faced initial resistance to the project. (See Get Users Involved, Says Yahoo Boss and Intel Faces ILM Challenge.) "Getting the agencies to relinquish control of the images was a challenge, but the bigger [challenge] was getting Brown-Forman's marketing people to agree with the processes involved in the project," he said. "Many compromises were hammered out in endless meetings."

Now that the dust has settled, Price defines the BAR system as a "win-win" for both Brown-Forman and its agency partners. "There's no more waiting for an overnight CD," he said, adding that the agencies can re-focus their energies on the creative side of their business.For security, Brown-Forman sets up limited access folders within the BAR system to ensure that only specific agency brand managers can access images. Price also told Byte and Switch that there are currently no plans to jump on the WAN optimization and WAFS bandwagon. (See WAN Optimization Gone Wild, Blue Coat Optimizes WAN, WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops, and More Thoughts on WAFS.) "We basically manage the expectations of people," he said. "Waiting half an hour for a download is a lot faster than waiting until tomorrow."

The exec admits that deploying a digital asset management system was not all smooth sailing, and he is looking forward to getting his hands on the next version of Documentum, which has just undergone beta tests. Previous versions of the product were sometimes difficult to configure, according to Price, who told Byte & Switch that he ended up doing more customization than he would have liked.

Specifically, Brown-Forman had to work hard to simplify the Web interface used by its own end users and staff in ad agencies. The exec expects that the forthcoming Documentum version 6 should make his life less complicated. "With Documentum 6 being easier to configure, there will be a lot less customizing."

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EMC Documentum

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