Commercial Production: the Cost of Rushed Timelines

Commercial Production: the Cost of Rushed Timelines

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Rushed production is like a junk-food binge — everyone knows it’s wrong and bad for them, but they do it anyway. Many have said for years that the ad production process can be good….and/or fast…and/or cheap — you can pull it off with two, but it’s pretty darn rare to score all three.

Over the last 36 years, we’ve worked with 1000’s of national & global brands; we’ve seen marketers time and time again with the mentality, “Well, we don’t have time to do it rightright now. But we’ll have time later to do it over if we need to.” Hmmm…do you see anything wrong with that thought?

Advertising Production: The Wretched Waste of Rushed Timelines

The cost premium for rushed production is 15%-25% — or more. Most Product Managers would be in serious trouble for missing any of their other marketing numbers that badly.

But chances are…you, yourself, have authorized rush production at least once during the past year. There are times when rush production may be warranted — such as responding to a competitive pressure. However, 90% of rush production is totally avoidable.  Ad production that is rushed is nearly always the result of inadequate planning or discipline.

Consider this…right this very moment, you likely know several dates in the coming year when new advertising is due. You know when new markets must be opened…when print media closing dates are scheduled…when your dealer or bottle meetings will be held…when research findings on new creative have to be in.

In your marketing timeline, you may have penciled in a period of 8 weeks for producing your TV commercials or print ads (and likely 12 weeks if your spots have special effects or animation — or for global production).

And while you don’t plan on compressing this timing…if you run behind on any of the other functions that lead to new copy, you end up squeezing the production schedule — because the air date or insertion date doesn’t move.

Yes, you can rush production. But you’ll also be taking a dreadful creative chance in the process. Here’s how:

1. Bidding

In a rush situation, none of your three best directors (or any other vendor, for that matter) may be available. You’re stuck with “what’s out there” – be it fourth choice of talent, or sixth, or twelfth. Your agency may very well say, “Because we’re in a rush, we have to single-bid this job” — and you lose all the advantages of competitive bidding. And normal competitive bidding can save 10%-20% of your production company costs.

In any case…rush will insure that whatever production company is invited to bid, realizing this is a tricky and not completely defined, will load up the estimate with an additional 15%-25% worth of time and materials so they can be covered.

2. Preparation time

A client in dire straits decided to improve his chances of securing good talent on a rush schedule by simultaneously casting in New York, Los Angeles, & Chicago. Obviously, that builds in a waste factor of 66% for casting expenditures, since the client likely threw away two-thirds of the effort.

Additionally, on a rush schedule, preparation of color-corrected packages can carry a premium of 50%-100%. Extra locations are scouted. Extra props and wardrobe are bought. (“I don’t know which she’ll like better, the yellow or the blue. Get ’em both.”)

3. Actual production

Everything will be hopelessly padded and overproduced. Extra setups are shot (“Well, we may need to cover.”) And hasty decisions aren’t normally well thought-out…well, considered, “quality” decisions.

What really hurts you is the attitude that pervades every facet of a rush production. Everyone is so absorbed with “getting the job done” that no one is thinking, “How can we do this better?”

4. Finishing

Try opening an editorial house on a weekend or on a national holiday. That has cost many a client a bundle. Rushing editorial or retouching can add 25%-50% (or what the traffic — that’s you — will bear). Hope you have deep pockets.

And how often have you heard this, “We’ll fix it in post!” Lack of proper preparation time can cause a false sense of security that all shortcuts can be fixed during post production. And in many cases, post production costs and retouching costs can escalate significantly due to the very fact that “fixes” need to be made.

What Can You Do About This Wretched Disease of Rushed Production?

Well, you can’t cure it — but you can certainly inoculate against it!

Right now, sit down and look at your advertising plans. Keep in the 8 weeks for TV & print production (12 weeks for global or spots with special effects and/or animation). Now, add in additional weeks for creative development, copy testing & research analysis, management approvals, and legal snarls — and every facet of marketing development which you know, through experience, you’re going to run into.

And then stick with your new resolves! Keep after your agency to make deadlines, not to slide by them. Keep the pressure on suppliers to outdo themselves — while they still have time left to come through with maximum performance.

Beat the rush production — before it beats you, financially. Or worse, before you miss an important date.

Want some help on the specifics of rush, and how you can preclude them from infecting your marketing operation? Contact us – we’d be happy to help.

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