Blog

Key Considerations for Globalizing Ad Production in 2018

No comments

Producing relevant ad content for any target audience is a tall order, and it’s even more difficult when creating ads for multiple audiences and cultures. However, in today’s world, global campaigns are becoming the “new norm” allowing you to communicate a consistent message to customers around the world, provide strong creative synergies, and maximize cost efficiencies.

It’s important to begin the creative process (at the briefing stage) with the intent of developing global content as there are several key considerations including (but not limited to):

  • On camera dialogue
  • Cultural differences, humor
  • Product packaging on screen, product held by talent or in situations
  • Demographics for different markets
  • Celebrity usage
  • Signage or props with written language
  • Background landmarks, identifiable cities, and topography
  • International copy clearance
  • Music rights
  • Negotiation of talent rights
  • Subtitles
  • Delivery of assets
  • Length of spots – “standards” vary in different countries

Maximize Results By Working With Production Experts

Navigating the waters of globalizing production isn’t easy, and brands often rely on consultants like MRA for help. Recently, we developed a Global Content Production Strategy for an organization with 11 brands that were sold in more than 40 countries. When the client engaged us, each brand was producing its own advertising on a regional level.

We began by analyzing the client’s current processes, creative outputs, staffing, technology tools, content needs, and spending across the brands and geographies to size up the opportunities, barriers, and challenges. Then, we went to work!

The results? Year 2 showed a 44% savings in production costs (versus historical benchmarks for comparable scopes) while yielding additional savings in agency fees and in copy testing. Download the full case study here.

Anita SilvermanKey Considerations for Globalizing Ad Production in 2018
read more

Common Test Production Formats: Considerations & Cost Ranges

No comments

Copy pre-testing has always been a part of marketing. But these days it has become increasingly important for Brand Managers to reduce risk as much as possible and get advance information on how commercials are expected to perform.

There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing which type of test production format to use:

Boardomatics:

Definition – still artwork, stock or custom photos shown in an edited timeline using cuts and dissolves to show movement

Consideration – effective when budgets and/or timelines are tight

Costs – $8,000 – $15,000

Lead times – 1 to 2 weeks

2D Animatics:

Definition – created from hand-drawn illustrations with color and detail added and then brought into computer software and matched with audio

Consideration – choose an artist with a style of artwork that you like: revisions can be tedious, time-consuming, and potentially costly

Costs – $20,000 – $25,000

Lead times – 2 to 3 weeks

3D Cinematics:

Definition – actors and sets are computer generated, motion capture actors used to show realistic human movement. Changes can be handled at virtually any point in the development process.

Consideration– while changes can be made with ease, they also can increase costs by 40%-50%

Costs – $25,000 – $30,000

Lead times – 3 to 4 weeks

The best decision for the format of your test production is made with consideration of the type of research needed, type of product, and the type of commercial. Additionally, many advertisers are tempted to use the test spot “on air”, especially with the more advanced testing formats; however, this is not best practice and represents a critical risk to your brand. It’s important to agree with your agency up-front that test commercials will be thrown out and never placed on-air.

Need advice or recommendations for test production vendors? Give us a call–our production experts consult with brands around the world, and we’ve supported thousands upon thousands of test productions over the last 30+ years. If you need anything at all, we’re here to help.

Anita SilvermanCommon Test Production Formats: Considerations & Cost Ranges
read more

Licensing of Popular Music in Advertising

No comments

There are two distinct sets of copyrights in music: the rights to the musical composition (the written lyrics and the accompanying music), and the rights to the sound recording of the musical composition. The sound recording is usually owned by a single record company and compositions often have complex ownership groups. Any reproduction of a musical composition or a sound recording requires the consent of the owner of that particular copyright.

Common Music Licensing Terms

Synchronization License: Rights to synchronize the musical composition in timed relation with audio-visual images such as a commercial. Music publishers issue these licenses either as the copyright owner or their agent.

Master Recording: Rights to use a specific recording called a Master. Covers the owner of the Sound Recording (typically the record label, or whoever paid for the recording such as the producer or the artist).

Most Favored Nations: A promise by the licensee to treat a licensor equal to any other licensor on a particular project. This would mean that the Sync and Master licensor would receive the same fee.

Linear Use: Using a song “as is” without any manipulation (i.e. moving around verses, cutting the horn section, etc.) may need special permission for non-linear use.

Exclusivity: The rights granted to the licensee will almost always be in the form of a non-exclusive license; the advertiser will pay more for an exclusive time period or industry.

There are many factors that can contribute to the fees you pay for licensed music. Consider these 10 important questions that will contribute to what you pay:

  1. Do you want to use the composition AND the master recording? Or, do you want to use only the composition and do a re-record?
  2. Do you want to re-record the composition with a parody lyric?
  3. For television, how many spots are you producing and what are the timings of each spot? (include versions, edits, lifts, tags)
  4. What is the media buy? (network, cable, spot syndication)
  5. Are you doing any radio spots? If so, how many?  Lifts, versions, edits?
  6. What other kinds of uses will there be? Do you need rights for non-broadcast/industrial use, sales meetings, trade shows, internet, in-store, POP, use of song title/lyrics in print or use of talent name/image in print, phone systems, in-cinema, in-flight, in-stadium/jumbotron, theme parks? Now is the time to include as much as you think you’ll need.
  7. Term – How long will the campaign run and what is the first air date?
  8. Territory – What cities, states, and countries will the campaign be airing?
  9. Exclusivity – Do you need exclusivity and if so, for what product category?
  10. Option – Do you need an option to renew the use for an additional consecutive term?

In order to procure the most competitive music licensing fees, MRA recommends the use of a third party vendor who specializes in negotiating popular music. Why? These companies have professional relationships with all major publisher and record label licensing departments and have the expertise to secure the best rates for advertisers.

Wondering how to get in touch with a music licensing specialist? Submit a request, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to the best resources in the industry — based on your specific needs.

 

 

Anita SilvermanLicensing of Popular Music in Advertising
read more

4 Pros And Cons Of Shooting Off-Shore

No comments

Selecting the “best” location for your production is an important decision that should be made with care. Several factors come in to play:

  • LA and NY are relatively high-priced but have a high concentration of directors, photographers and talent available
  • There are a multitude of cities around the world that can offer lower costs
  • Many advertisers travel U.S. based directors and talent to lower cost locations

MRA has created a quick reference guide categorizing popular international locations into high, medium high, medium low and low-cost ranges — click here to download your copy.

While there can be significant cost savings with an off-shore shoot, here are 4 important pros and cons to consider:

Pros:

  • Lower production costs
  • Broader selection of directors geographies, etc.
  • Ability to tap non-union talent and negotiate talent buyouts
  • Reduced overtime (film crews tend to work longer standard days before incurring overtime)

Cons:

  • Increased travel expenses
  • Possibility of paying for travel time (directors, producers and agency supervision may charge for travel time outside the U.S.; in some instances these can be negotiated)
  • Longer lead time to organize and plan the shoot
  • Smaller foreign talent pool if an American “accent” is required

Other Considerations:

  • If the product is not sold in the country of the shoot, customs could delay product delivery
  • When shooting outdoors, be cognizant of the background (i.e., are cars driving on the correct side of the street? Are there signs close-by in a foreign language?)
  • Many countries have very specific regulations specific to producing content – ask an expert to ensure you’re aware of all local laws that may impact your shoot
  • Consideration should be given to safety and fluctuating currencies

MRA has more than 37 years of experience in consulting with clients on making the best decisions when it comes to production locations, and we’d be happy to help you as well. Contact us today to learn more.

Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.

 

Anita Silverman4 Pros And Cons Of Shooting Off-Shore
read more

Save Big Money By Asking the Right Questions

No comments

Cyber Monday Case Study

According to CNBC, Cyber Monday 2017 is expected to produce more than $6 Billion in sales, and RetailMeNot reports that 95% of employed consumers plan to surf for deals while at work. Having the right strategy to capture the attention of consumers on Cyber Monday is critical for advertisers; yet, you may be paying a premium to reach your target consumers this year.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Saferite of Saferite Consulting, and in this 10-minute conversation, she highlights a recent consulting engagement where she helped her client optimize their Cyber Monday digital campaign — and generate $175,000 in savings by asking one key question.

Anita SilvermanSave Big Money By Asking the Right Questions
read more

Best Practice Timelines for Live Action Production

No comments

You Have Good Intentions

You planned sufficient time for creating your online video. Unfortunately, you ran behind on approving the final concept, and the production calendar was squeezed. It was never your intent to get behind schedule. It just happened…

So This Happened…

  • The preferred directors were all booked, so you were stuck with who was available.
  • Your agency said, “Because we’re in a hurry, we don’t have time to triple-bid this job,” and you lost all the advantages of competitive bidding (which can save 10%-20% of the production company’s costs).
  • You needed to find the right talent with very little time, so you held casting in 3 different cities, which built in a waste factor of 66% for casting expenditures.
  • You needed color-corrected packages and paid a premium of 50%-100% because of the rushed schedule.
  • Extra props and wardrobe were bought. (“I don’t know which she’ll like better, the yellow or the blue. Get ’em both.”)
  • Extra setups were shot, and scenes were overproduced. You heard people on-set say, “We’ll fix it in post-production.”
  • Post-production and retouching costs escalated by 50% due to “fixes” that were needed.

Why waste up to 25% of your budget on rushed production when those same dollars can be used for additional assets or media? Follow these best practice timelines to ensure success.

90% of Rush Production Can Be Avoided

Carefully review your advertising plans. Producing a spot for TV?

  • Starting point. Keep in the 8 weeks as a baseline (include additional weeks for global campaigns and/or special effects).
  • Extra time. Include extra weeks for creative development, copy testing & research analysis, management approvals, and legal review.
  • Create deadlines. Then, keep the pressure on agency partners and suppliers — and your internal teams — to stick to them.

Brands all over the world struggle with the costly ramifications of rushing production. With MRA, you don’t have to be one of them.

adminmraBest Practice Timelines for Live Action Production
read more

How Does Integrated Marketing Communications Intersect With Production?

No comments

What is Integrated Marketing Communications?

The definition of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), according to the American Marketing Association is the “Planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” This includes but is not limited to:

  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Sales promotions
  • Public relations
  • Direct marketing
  • Point of purchase
  • Sponsorships

The game changed with regard to IMC when the internet came in to play in two big ways. First, instead of marketing campaigns being a “push” strategy, it became more “pull” with consumers searching information and becoming “push and pull” interactive. Second, with traditional media the same information is received by all consumers, and with internet media content can be tailored for specific groups or individuals.

IMC not only focuses on consistent messaging for the customer but also provides an efficient and cost effective way for advertisers to communicate. The idea is to harness the power of each channel to have a more effective impact than working each channel individually. The message remains consistent, but the delivery method varies across the platforms.

This ties nicely into advertising production strategic planning. A well defined content production strategy with optimized work flows is a powerful tool to work an IMC process and manage a budget efficiently.

Additional Types of Integration to Consider

  • Horizontal – across the marketing mix and business functions – production, finance, distribution and communications working together
  • Data – sharing relevant marketing data across different departments within a company and with agencies
  • Vertical – ensuring marketing and communications support the higher level business and company objectives and mission
  • Internal – keeping all staff informed and educated regarding brand and company identities, standards, partners, etc.
  • External – coordinating with all external partners (advertising, PR, media, and digital agencies) to work together in a cohesive manner with messaging and campaigns

IMC: Where do you stack up?

One of the biggest pitfalls of integrating marketing communications (especially for large advertisers) is to be able to effectively and efficiently work across multiple departments that are each producing their own marketing communications. According to Smart Insights, only 6% of companies report that their marketing integration processes are fully optimized while 32% report that integration is a key area of focus for their organization. Regardless where you fall on the spectrum, there are several ways to drive efficiency with IMC including reducing agency fees, streamlining work flows, and leveraging consistent assets across all channels.

Have questions on how to build a production strategy to fit within IMC? Contact us to learn more.

 

Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.

Anita SilvermanHow Does Integrated Marketing Communications Intersect With Production?
read more

3 Budgeting Pitfalls to Avoid

No comments

This month, we’ve spent time discussing budget planning, successful budget management, and how to find more money within your budget. Now, let’s take a moment to review some key tips to help you avoid common budgeting pitfalls.

 Annual Budgets

Common Pitfall: Instead of starting with project or campaign level budgeting, pull out and think big picture. Are there certain ground rules or strategies to align all the teams on before jumping in to the detail build?

Helpful Tip: When reviewing the annual budget, do a detail review for any spending not tied to a specific plan or campaign, often this can identify spend that can be trimmed without impacting brand objectives and KPI’s.

Production Budgets

Common Pitfall: Instead of asking your agency what the production budget should be, consider using models to build your own budgets and set guidelines. The budgets and models can be further refined as the detail planning and creative idea is finalized.

Helpful Tip: When building out models for production budgets, it may be helpful to have a ranges of standard costs for components. For example, animation costs will vary widely depending on the complexity of what is required. A :30 spot with heavy CGI will have a very different budget than one with very little. Music costs will vary depending on whether you’re using stock, original, or licensed music. No two :30 spots are exactly the same, and buying production is not like buying widgets. Setting an appropriate budget is a critical first step to managing costs.

Need a production budgeting tool for your organization or benchmarks for different components of production? Contact us — we’ve had the pleasure of helping hundreds of brands with budgeting, and we’d be glad to help you, too.

Ongoing Management

Common Pitfall: Failure to obtain written approval for scope changes, overages, or changes in direction during the project can lead to agency disputes and financial management issues down the road. Standardizing and formalizing this process relieve this pressure on projects, teams and relationships.

Helpful Tip: Use a standard form for routing and documenting change requests and approvals. Also consider using a management report to show project budget, revisions, and final spend. Having a dedicated resource (internal or external) who actively manages the budget during all stages may seem like an additional step, resource or cost, but this pays for itself quickly (usually multiple times over).

Need a fresh perspective on a budget issue/opportunity? Click here to submit questions to our team, and one of our experts will get back to you right away.

Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.

 

Anita Silverman3 Budgeting Pitfalls to Avoid
read more

Successful Budget Management

No comments

Budgeting can be like going to the dentist — not high on your list of favorite activities. However, if you go often and do the recommended preventative maintenance, you are much less likely to end up in a painful and costly situation!

The key to successful budget management is “early and often.” Below, we’ve identified three steps to take in building the annual budget, setting project budgets, and managing budgets on an ongoing basis:

Annual Budgets

  1. Select methods that fit your company culture such as zero based budgeting, standard costing models, top-down target driven, inflation factors, prior year base, stop/start/continue, etc.
  2. Lay the groundwork up front so everyone in marketing consistently applies the budget methodology. Set the standards for level of detail required, standard costing and modeling, and ratios requirements (working versus non-working, media versus production, fee versus creative, etc.)
  3. Train the team and review the budgets during the process versus after the budget is submitted. Giving a list of review tips, frequent errors, and issues to avoid can be very helpful for your marketing team.

Project Budgets

  1. Consider a model approach with standard cost ranges for various components of production.
  2. Define the components and potential costs up front with agreement from all stakeholders.
  3. Explain variations to the standard costs and obtain senior management approval to operate outside the standard, as needed.

Ongoing Budget Management

  1. Recruit a champion to manage project budgets and implement process enhancements.
  2. Analyze, understand, and agree upon detailed budgets prior to the start of any project.
  3. Wrap-up and reconciliation are just as important as the planning phase and can help your team learn from issues and collect remaining funds for re-investment.

In summary, here are 5 additional things to keep in mind:

  1. Clarify expectations with the team up front before budgets are prepared and submitted.
  2. Have a formal review process for variances to standard costing models used in budgeting.
  3. Have a formal approval process for changes to project scope.
  4. Assign responsibility for ongoing budget management.
  5. Be the team that gets more money due to your track record for effectively and efficiently managing your budget!

Being involved early and often are the keys to success in budget management. Check out our upcoming post for tips and key watch-outs for implementing improved budget processes in your company.

Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.

adminmraSuccessful Budget Management
read more