The problem with poorly executed image compression

Century 21 Ad Campaign

Actual Century 21 Ad – unedited.

There was a time when image compression was both an art and a science. In the late 90’s I remember new tools coming out, like Fireworks, which gave us better quality images and smaller file sizes. Options like JPEG or GIF, baseline or progressive, selective or adaptive or… mattered. Many people have forgotten this, and many never knew how important it can be.

Often now we just make images PNGs, and we’re more concerned about latency than data transfer, so we often use sprites.

Century 21 Real Estate seems to be running an ad campaign. Unfortunately, one of the final steps in executing such a campaign – image compression – was mishandled. Undoubtedly, the process to create the campaign contained executives, product experts, at least one copywriter, photographer, makeup artist, model and graphic designer.

The problem with poorly executed image compression is that it renders all of those roles rather pointless. The execs and experts could be replaced by untrained monkeys. The copywriter & designer could be replaced by a three-year-old with a crayon. The photographer could have been replaced by a two-year-old with a camera phone from 2003, and perhaps some lighting tips from his mom.

I’ve seen plenty of poorly compressed images over the years, so I can see through the fuzziness to some degree. Those driving this campaign are likely skilled and experienced. They copywriter & designer are also likely skilled. The photo looks like the photographer got what they were going for, and the lighting is good.

However, the person who likely handled the image last, didn’t have a clue. If they exported it this way out of Photoshop, or if they setup a command line tool to automatically compress the images, either way the final output is about as bad as I’ve ever seen.

It’s important that the right people be given the right tasks, and that those people are skilled enough to do the job well.

2 thoughts on “The problem with poorly executed image compression

  1. I agree with your observations – the picture screams “help me – get me out of this mess”. Truly whoever was in charge of this ad missed the mark big time!

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