Time to Reboot the Shoot
By John Trahar. Published in Adage on September 29, 2017.
The marketing cost-consciousness that started in the Great Recession has intensified with the past year's uproar over production costs and "kickbacks." Yet, so far, the industry conversation has missed a more fundamental problem that truly endangers brands: How we approach create commercials can't sustain relevance, which is the epic challenge of our connected world.
Reaching potential customers with advertising that's meaningful and compelling was the single biggest challenge cited by more than 300 advertisers in a poll this summer by Advertiser Perceptions. To meet that relevance challenge, we need to overhaul a creation model that hasn't changed fundamentally since the 1960s. You know, the agency, the client and the production company show up with a script and a shot-list, and execute it with an air date looming.
When market opportunities and sentiments morph within days, if not hours, today's shoot might be obsolete by the time we're finished editing. And so, we really owe the brand a portfolio of meaningful creative assets that can be edited to answer real-world events within a larger, ongoing vision.
We need to reenvision the commercial shoot as a creative happening, not a production assignment. To do this, we need to involve the entire team -- including the postproduction crew and media -- upstream, in an overarching strategy, so everyone can see where the brand's going and build on the storylines as ideas POP UP on set. We need to shoot an overarching strategy, not one to three storyboards.
The team has to include clients, from the conference room to the editing room, and we have to see the work through together. In addition to eliminating uncertainty and lag time spent checking with the client, this solves the transparency problem altogether by maintaining creative accountability. There's no passing the buck to a director or a production company, no matter their A-List credentials. The next day, our client is still our client.
More is better
We need to embrace the notion that more is more efficient. More executions better drive home an idea. More varied expressions of an idea resonate with more people. A larger library of relevant imagery keeps a brand fresher, longer. More makes a challenger brand feel a lot bigger. More makes an integrated campaign cohesive and comprehensive.
More also means thinking and writing all the way through the shoot -- particularly after the camera starts rolling. It means shooting faster, so we can envision more, capture more and make more. It means thinking editorially throughout, to see more potential applications beyond a spot.
And it means having a preplanned and convincing reason for every technique, angle and set-up, so no singular creative discussion gets precious and sucks time away from the whole.
That doesn't mean shooting lots of assets randomly for social posts or digital campaigns you might do someday; those channels need to be planned for within the cohesive shoot. And we don't need more people, but we do need to empower people more. Give people with multiple talents the context and freedom to make more, so more B-roll is set up to be potential A-roll that engages audiences. The best work we've done in the past 6 years all came from what the script morphed into on the set and in the editing room.
More can fit the budget if we bill by deliverable instead of hours. The hours convention penalizes agencies when creative's fast, and clients when it's slow. The budget is what the budget is, so the value proposition becomes how much you can make with it. The new creative efficiency is how much we can make, not how little can we can make it for.
This GCF authored editorial originally appeared in ADVERTISING AGE