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#GIJENS: The most epic self-promotion ever made in the history of photography

get-your-own-gi-jens

Since the first day as a professional photographer, I haven’t made any kind of physical send-out. All the amazing people I’ve had the chance to work with have come through word-of-mouth and persistent networking. But I do love new experiences, inspiring acquaintances and challenging opportunities. That is the main reason why I, a few months ago, received a shipment containing a 400-headed army of… me.

 

home24

Moderskeppet just bought an action figure and helped making the EYE AM project possible! Get your banner here (5 000 unique visitors a day) and do some goooood at the same time!

 

 

This is the story of why I and a few other really creative people created 400 action figures of myself and how it was done. And no, they are not 3D-printed, this is old-school.

 

 

WHY AN ACTION FIGURE?

Well, first of all: why the hell not!? Many photographers spend a lot of cash to design the perfect portfolio, print it and send to the people they want to work for. Just to have it disappear among hundreds of similar mailings. If you’ve ever been in touch with an art director, art buyer or owner of an ad agency, you’ll know that they have a zillion things to do and as many people to meet. Unless you make an epic impression, you’ll be forgotten. I needed more than a paper folder to stand out. Besides showing my work, the marketing piece we were going to produce had to be something that:

  1. People would like to keep on their desk
  2. The owner would like to show to others
  3. In a second would present what Jens Lennartsson Photography is all about: raw and natural lifestyle and travel photography, without too much gear and photoshop.

Jens-Lennartsson-Photography-Mail-Promo-13

 

THE PROCESS

We posted a job description on Alibaba.com, a site where manufacturers (mostly Asian) showcase their work and take on new jobs. Out of the around 20 replies we got, we picked the one that we felt were actually able to produce what we wanted. From my previous experiences with asian manufacturers I’m aware that quality isn’t the main priority and we were very careful and asked for a lot of work samples and read through countless reviews.

Jens - before action figure

Before we could see a test figure, the manufacturer had to shape a model in clay, that that then was used to make the molding form. After sending pictures of myself from four different angles, the clay-prototype-thingy maker began creating. It took quite a few rounds to get something that looked like me even a little, a few more to make it epic! We compared the grainy images taken at the factory with the first images we sent, returning instructions on how to make it more Jens-like.

 

evolution-of-jens

When the prototype was finished and the molding form done, a single figure was created and hand-painted. Sent by courier to Sweden, we were more than nervous that someone totally messed up and that we’ve spent half of the total cost on something we had to remake. Luckily, the only thing not matching reality was the color of my jacket, due to a bad color correction from our side.

We gave the green light, and three months later the four hundred, individually packaged figures arrived. While all hand painted, a few were completely cock-eyed, one had the skin color of someone with a bad stomach disease but most of them looked great. The most critical part of the project was done.

 

THE BOX

While the action figure was the most essential part, it was important to have a package that enhanced the brand. It needed to be raw, simple but in the same time beautiful. We decided to design a box made of cardboard, with a one-color print on the outside. Since we wanted the cool people we reach out to to keep the box visible in the office, the logo and brand name was priority one on the front page.

We designed the back to give a quick brief overview of Jens Lennartsson Photography as well as giving a call to action; “contact me now!”. It took a few rounds of prototypes to make the window in the front the correct size.  It had to be large enough to show most of the figure. Inside the box, a piece of cardboard was shaped to keep the figure in place and to hold the portfolio.

 

THE PORTFOLIO

Jens Lennartsson Action Figure Portfolio

Even though my actual pictures were a very small part of the whole portfolio concept, they were of course what we wanted people to look at in the end. The portfolio itself was designed as a map, that you are able to unfold to see the rest of the images.

Jens Lennartsson Action Figure Portfolio

One side was dedicated for the travel photographs, the other one for the more commercial ones and was designed to show a large body of work but at the same time showcase the special style of the images that you would expect from Jens Lennartsson Photography. It was printed by a Swedish printer we’ve been working with several times before.

THE RECIPIENT SELECTION

Most of the figures was going to inspiring, cool and interesting people that we wanted to get in touch with people, in agencies and magazines in Malmö, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Copenhagen. Many days were spent to complete a list of all the agencies and people that was doing awesome things and whome we thought we could help out.

Inge, the virtual assistant from Zirtual, helped us get all the contact information – including name, e-mail, addresses and such. A bunch of the figures was also going out to magazines, editors, agencies and companies in the rest of the world. All recipients have one thing in common; they are doing awesome stuff and we want to help making it even more epic!

 I´ll get back to you as soon as we know what kind of creators this little stunt did put us in touch with! 

 

 

 

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This Post Has 119 Comments

  1. This was a really cool idea!
    Congrats

    Ola

  2. Jessica Lund says:

    Love this!!! Good luck!

  3. Hank says:

    Jag vill gärna ha en actionfigur, kan man köpa en?

  4. […] cards, but photographer Jens Lennartsson just took the cake (and did it with gusto): he created 400 ‘GI Jens’ action figures of himself to send out as promotional […]

  5. Jennie says:

    Riktigt coolt och inspirerande gjort! :)

  6. Brad Trent says:

    I think this is fucking awesome! Excellent idea, wonderfully produced and I’m sure you’re gonna get a fantastic response.

  7. […] arms race of photographer advertising, one man may have developed the equivalent of a nuclear bomb. Photographer Jens Lennartsson got a series of 400 action figures modeled after himself to send out to prospective clients, […]

  8. Alex says:

    This is a great idea that has gotten a lot of buzz! But… Has it worked? Have you booked more jobs and contracts etc from this?

  9. Awesome.The new trend. Instead of sending your resume, just send us your action figure. What if you gain a few pounds? Great job! You would never think that a small clip like that would require so much work and money. Love it!

  10. memph1x says:

    i think is a great idea! i would like have one of this! it’s possible? i’m from Venezuela.

  11. […] one of the most ambitious self-promtion schemes I have ever seen, photographer Jens Lennartsson created 400 action figures of himself to mail to prospective clients. Behind the […]

  12. Harry Who says:

    This is fantastic. I’d like to one if you have an extra one. :)

  13. Trouble says:

    Great!
    I saw the article in Daily Peta Pixel.
    Could you tell us how much you paid? And give us the address?
    Not to do the same idea (it’s your), don’t worry. But i would have some to manufactured of my girlfriend.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Jens Lennartsson says:

      Hi man!

      If you are just doing ONE figure, its way to expensive.. You should try to find someone that are able to 3D print it. I´ve seen such companies on the web where you can order just one.

  14. Souri says:

    Love the idea. This is one creative way of a promotion. Well played.

  15. Me me me says:

    off the charts narcissism

  16. Vicky Mittal says:

    Wicked Awesome Idea!

    Cool Creative process. I’ve used Alibaba before but never thought of doing that with it.

  17. Jens,

    What a great, unique, creative marketing idea. Did you come up with the idea solely yourself or was there external inspiration? It reminds me of a 3D printing company in downtown Chicago. They scan your body and you walk out of the store with a full 3D model of yourself. One thing I did not see was a mention of the costs associated with the project. Could you give us a little bit of insight on the costs involved? Even a rough estimate?

    Keep up the great work!

    • Jens Lennartsson says:

      Hello Mr. Online! ;)

      Yes, i also read about that company, pretty cool :)

      I left the cost out of the picture by choice actually :) Lets say like this, you would be able to buy a pretty good car for the money i spent. But i cant buy a car now. Because the chinese factory that produced the figures sent them in individual packages so im not aloud to do any more damage on the environment for at least 25 years…

  18. […] el blog, Lennartsson explica que muchos fotógrafos gastan un montón de dinero diseñando una carpeta […]

  19. FraserT says:

    Great idea but a shame couldn’t use the original packaging. Perhaps should have tried to get own branding on that. Just a thought nut well done it drew me to your site.

  20. - Closeup says:

    […] de blog van Lennartsson kun je meer lezen over het idee en de productie van de […]

  21. […] photographer Jens Lennartsson made sure he stood out to potential clients by creating 400 “GI Jens” action figures of himself. Now that’s a clever way to put …read […]

  22. […] ist einfach nur eine geniale Marketingaktion welche Travel & Lifestyle Photograph Jens Lennartsson da gemacht hat. Er hat 400 Action Figuren von sich herstellen lassen und diese dann in eine wie ich […]

  23. This is just so cool. Very well done!

  24. […] entworfenen Action-Figur nebst handgefertigter Verpackung, die ihn selbst darstellt – den GI-Jens. Insgesamt 400, der detailgetreuen Figuren wurden produziert und auf die Reise geschickt, dem […]

  25. Vinnie says:

    Jens, Great idea, but I’m curious. Which is more effective business wise?

    a) The actual idea of 400 jens sent to prospective clients OR
    b) This post about your idea shared by thousands of people worldwide?

  26. jF says:

    I’ve seen no credits for the nice soundtrack of the “GI JENS – The most epic self-promotion piece ever made” video: who’s playing what from who?

  27. […] photographer, Jens Lennartsson calls his mailing of 400 “GI Jens” action figures of himself “the most epic […]

  28. artesfoto says:

    Cool! (Germany) Gut gemacht! Sehr interessant für die Werbung. Vielleicht auch für Hochzeitsfotografen!

  29. Simon says:

    Great idea. This is a very creative way of boost a reputation right.

  30. […] nur potentielle Kunden beeindruckt – auch ich bin hin und weg von seinem eigenes entworfenen GI-Jens! Um nicht in der Masse der Bewerbungsunterlagen und Arbeitsproben unterzugehen, entwarf er eine […]

  31. […] kennis met Jens Lennartsson: Fotograaf. Om boven de gemiddelde fotograaf uit te steken kon hij zijn portfolio rondsturen, want daar hoort […]

  32. […] Die For (I have the last one!) ♥ Gold Bunny Ears Ring – I need this in my life! ♥ The Best Self Promotion Ever! ♥ Fairytale New York Wedding ♥ Laughing in Late Night Garages ♥ Victoria […]

  33. […] markt gezet. Hij heeft namelijk een action figure van zichzelf laten maken. Zie hier zijn website, de instructievideo en enkele foto’s. […]

  34. […] tem o que não gostar nos GI Jens (pegou, pegou?), os bonecos são bem feitos, bem executados e o conceito é genial! Mas muito além […]

  35. […] something that left a more indelible impression than the typical portfolio. So, he created an army of GI Jens action figures to march out into the world and get him […]

  36. I absolutely love it. Well done sir!!! I have been teaching bartenders for over 20 years and am just writing a ebook Bartenders: Get Hired Now.

    I’m always looking for new & creative ways to approach an employer
    to increase the odds of, at the very least, get an interview.
    Boy does your idea ever do that. I’m going to include a link to your blog & videos about it in my eBook as a fantastic example of thinking “outside the box” hehe.
    It may be too expensive , as you said above, to do only one or a few, but it certainly opens the mind to new possibilities.

    Thank you for helping me and my readers learn about going the extra mile to achieve what you want.
    I wish you all the success in the world.
    Scott Young

  37. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  38. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  39. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  40. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  41. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  42. […] can read more about the promotion “The Most Epic Self-Promo” here, and watch a couple of behind the scenes videos, but I would also encourage you to check out Eye […]

  43. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  44. […] You can read more about this great self promotion here. […]

  45. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  46. […] ♥ The most epic self-promotion ever made in the history of photography - this photographer created 400 action figures to send out as promotional material. Whoah! […]

  47. Stein Houk says:

    i think it’s a great idea! maybe one day I can find one to add to my other cool figurines (Spiderman, Bob’s big boy, Pecos Bill, Johnny Cool… ) Wish you the very best luck! Happy Holidays!

  48. […] His full story is here, along with a fun video. […]

  49. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  50. […] two years ago Copenhagen based photographer Jens Lennartsson decided to embark on a self promotion campaign. Instead of sending a portfolio of his works to […]

  51. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  52. […] Pueden leer toda la historia y ver más imágenes siguiendo este enlace. […]

  53. […] gig? You’re getting outdone by a Malmö, Sweden-based photographer, Jens Lennartsson, who created an army of miniature copies of himself to send to magazines and other firms who he thought might be able to find use for his […]

  54. […] seu site e no vídeo abaixo, Jens Lennartsson mostra o processo de produção do exército de […]

  55. […] bem, conheçam o trabalho do fotógrafo Sueco Jens Lennartsson , que resolveu inovar e sair daquela coisa natural e corriqueira que é o cartão de visitas. Ele […]

  56. […] seu site e no vídeo abaixo, Jens Lennartsson mostra o processo de produção do exército de […]

  57. […] Jens Lennartsson action figures was created together with the box and a portfolio. It was sent out to carefully […]

  58. […] Em seu site e no vídeo abaixo, Jens Lennartsson mostra o processo de produção do exército de bonecos. […]

  59. […] seu site e no vídeo abaixo, Jens Lennartsson mostra o processo de produção do exército de […]

  60. […] pedaço de papel que invariavelmente acaba encontrando seu destino no lixo. Mas o fotógrafo suecoJens Lennartsson ensina como se destacar e, quem sabe, até conseguir um espaço fixo na mesa do seu futuro […]

  61. […] formas cada vez más ingeniosas (o costosas). algo así es lo que ha hecho el fotógrafo sueco jens lennartsson, que decidió crear un muñeco de sí mismo para promocionarse, el ‘gi […]

  62. […] An army of action figures of oneself is an original and fun promotional effort by Swedish photographer Jens Lennartsson. […]

  63. […] pedaço de papel que invariavelmente acaba encontrando seu destino no lixo. Mas o fotógrafo sueco Jens Lennartsson ensina como se destacar e, quem sabe, até conseguir um espaço fixo na mesa do seu futuro […]

  64. […] fotógrafo sueco Jens Lennartsson lo tuvo claro desde el primer momento. Reproducciones a escala de él mismo, con sus ventajas […]

  65. nana says:

    Amazing ! Have you been hired or at least got interviews?

  66. […] All photographs courtesy of Jens Lennartsson Photography. […]

  67. […] All photographs courtesy of Jens Lennartsson Photography. […]

  68. […] photographer Jens Lennartson decided to send out action figures of himself. On his website he explains why: ““Well, first […]

  69. […] a en effet édité 400 figurines à son effigie, baptisées GI-Jens, elles sont packagées dans une boîte spéciale contenant son CV et ses créations. Le tout a […]

  70. […] self-promo idea from a photographer that takes narcissism to a whole new […]

  71. Excellent idea I’m going to have to try something like this one day. Was it hard to find a good manufacturer for the toy? How was the out come? did it help your business?

  72. […] Do you think that the world needs you twice? Professional photographer Jens made 400 duplicates of himself and called it the #GIJENS […]

  73. SCAN émoi says:

    Great initiative ! I just opened a store in Paris that does body scan so that everyone can have their own 3d figurine as well ! Visit us on http://www.scanemoi.com and contact me if you need more scans !

  74. […] iniciativa es muy modesta e individual. Acaba de ocurrir. Un fotógrafo que quiere abrirse camino, Jens Lennartsson, cansado de enseñar su portfolio aquí y allá y no conseguir llamar la atención, encargó a un […]

  75. Herman says:

    Dear Sir,

    This is absolutely a perfect design,very good job.
    Do you need to develop it as a physical product to put it into the market?We can help you.
    We are the OEM factory which specializing in different kinds of plastic action figures development and production in China for 10 years,we mainly accept OEM orders from the customers and provide them with the one-stop service from design to production,and the copyright of the products will be reserved by the customers,we shall never sell it to other three parties without their authorization.And expressly,our price is very competitive as we have our own factory.

    Should you have any inquiry,please feel free to contact me at any time.

  76. […] schreibt selbst: The most epic self-promotion ever made in the history of photography: Hier die Hintergrund Info mit Bilder und Film. eine coole Idee und schöne Figur. Musst ich natürlich auch gleich […]

  77. […] die Hintergrund Info mit Bilder und Film. Eine sehr coole Idee und schöne Figur -musst ich natürlich auch gleich […]

  78. […] Details about the process from Jens Lennartsson’s website… […]

  79. […] Absolutely. Jens Lennartsson is one of my favorites. He created and mailed out 400 GI-Joe-type action figures of himself (with a […]

  80. […] through job boards with hundreds of other talented photographers, Jens created and mailed out 400 GI-Joe-type action figures of himself (with a brochure showcasing his photography […]

  81. […] week’s assignment on the On Taking Pictures Google+ Community: #architecture GIJENS: The most epic self-promotion ever iN-PUBLiC | Narelle Autio Beneath the Roses by Gregory Crewdson Neuromancer by William Gibson Zen […]

  82. EvelynSr says:

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    We’ve been ordinarily proven photos and images within the mass media and on our television set screens, of renowned people today who search considerably more youthful than they really are. Most folks marvel at them and speculate how they’ve got managed to take care of up their youthful visible attraction, despite their advancing age. They then need to emulate these well-known people by getting techniques via which they a lot way too can delay this ageing method.

    Top cosmetic organizations are actually employing many of those males and females to assist them to promote their own individual anti ageing goods. Items such as wrinkle lotion are turning into large firm and therefore are finding promoted in this kind of suggests that has a tendency to make individuals think that it truly is heading to help them to stay seeking youthful for more time. These goods usually are not that reasonably priced even so and for how lots of decades are we supposed to maintain employing these creams for example? The cost could promptly mount up producing specified men and women these days to pressure, this itself could quite effortlessly carry about much more strains and wrinkles!

    I am optimistic that a few of people items are beneficial and therefore are pretty most popular, possessing stated that we’re not all from the posture exactly in which we are able to hold buying them every months time or every single one calendar month.

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  83. […] This guy is so creative. So is his portfolio. […]

  84. […] ‘If you’ve ever been in touch with an art director, art buyer or owner of an ad agency, you’ll know that they have a zillion things to do and as many people to meet.’ Lennartsson writes on his blog. […]

  85. […] pouvez même faire un CV original, comme l’avait fait le photographe Jens Lennartsson qui avait joint à son CV une statuette à son effigie tirée à 400 […]

  86. […] to create and mail out 400 action figures of yourself as Jens Lennartsson did, create imitation medicine boxes as pharmaceutical copywriter Jon Ryder did, or lose a fake passport at ad agencies like design […]

  87. […] schon mal bezahlt. Jens Lennartsons Video über dieses Projekt beschreibt er selbst als die The most epic self-promotion ever made in the history of photography. […]

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