What is advertising? In its simplest form, advertising is a message from a seller to a potential purchaser – which the seller hopes will produce extra sales and, ultimately, an enhancement of revenues. And some other descriptors?
- Advertising is an investment by the advertiser, wherein he puts capital into a venture he hopes will not only be self-liquidating – but will also produce a handsome return on his investment.
- Advertising is a golden opportunity to outwit, outspend, and out-maneuver the competition.
- Advertising is the very best method of promoting, building, rebuilding, or maintaining a Brand.
- Advertising, in many companies, is the fastest, most direct route to the Executive Suite.
- But, above all else, advertising is SELLING. The sooner we all get that very basic principle clearly in mind, the better off we’ll be.
Veteran salesmen will tell you it’s essential, at some early stage in the selling process, to get your prospect nodding, saying “yes” in response to your selling arguments. This, of course, is preparation for the essential “yes” that answers the bid for action, your “closer.”
Advertising, being an indirect form of selling, needs to get “yesses,” too.
For the next few minutes, put yourself on your prospective customer’s couch and consider the daunting challenges your advertising must take on. Within seconds, your ad must secure a “yes” answer to six vital questions. You must get six “yesses” in a row in order to win this game. Here they are – in sequence:
ADVERTISING YES #1
Yes – I’ll watch this commercial or read this ad. If you don’t get this one answered right – and right away – pack it in. You’ve lost the game at the get-go. Your commercial or ad must nail the viewer immediately. This is known as “attracting attention.”
Consider, for a moment, the enormous competition your ad encounters. You’re fighting the reader’s or viewer’s current mental condition, the accumulated events of the day, the iPad in one hand and the iPhone in the other, whether the dog is scratching itself, what the kids are doing, etc., etc. Your commercial opening or ad visual had better be good.
ADVERTISING YES #2
Yes – I’m interested enough to stick around for a few seconds. This stage in the sale, not surprisingly, is known as “arousing interest.” And you’d best be sure that the interest sought is the prospect’s interest, which you have cleverly ascertained from research. Beware of using an execution technique as an interest arouser – all prospects want low-calorie food that tastes good, you know.
ADVERTISING YES #3
Yes – I want what you’re promising. This is where the principal benefit comes in. Clearly, you market your product or service to provide a certain desirable end benefit for the prospect. Ergo, waste no time getting to the benefit quickly and unerringly (remember that your “temporary” reader or viewer can still bag out on you at any second).
Many sagacious advertisers make sure the principal benefit gets appropriate attention by making it the subject of the ad’s main illustration or using it as an early and dramatic visualization in television. The best advertisers do both.
ADVERTISING YES #4
Yes – I believe what you’re saying or promising. I understand how your Brand is different from your competitors, how you can offer something they don’t or can’t…and I want what you’re offering me. If you don’t get this right, your persuasion score suffers.
Brand differentiation thrives on reason-why – which is, of course, what we’re talking about here.
ADVERTISING YES #5
Yes – I want what you’re selling. Your proposition meets me squarely in the area of my interest and provides the benefits I seek in Brands like yours. You’ve also convinced me why I need to buy your Brand over any other.
I like what you’re telling and showing me, and I’m ready to buy.
ADVERTISING YES #6
Yes – I WILL buy what you’re selling. I’ll change from becoming a consumer of your advertising to becoming a consumer of your product. You’ve showed me the package, you’ve rammed home the Brand name, and you’ve urged me off of my couch and made me make a note reminding myself to pick up look for your Brand while shopping next.
Okay, now that you’ve studied the answers your advertising must elicit from viewers, we have some questions for you. Look at your most recent advertising, particularly your Creative Strategy. How hard are you selling? Have you traded in a potentially effective campaign for “a little top of mind awareness”? How long has it been since you spent a day in the field with your agency, talking to retailers? How long has it been since you ran a truly innovative usage and attitude study? What are the analyses of your last copy research tests showing you?
MRA has more than 60 major advertisers as clients, and our consultants deal with questions of this kind every day. Want to learn some more? Give us a ring!
“What in the world was that commercial all about?”
How to make sure that’s NOT the viewer reaction to your nice, new, expensive TV commercial.
Advertising is a-changin’. Radio is shaped to audiences like a glove, internet channels exist for left-handed stamp collectors, and, of course, Programmatic TV is growing like a weightlifter on steroids.
It’s sheer anomaly that, at a time when we can pinpoint the audience better than ever before, we can lose focus creatively. How many times have you sat through a commercial – maybe even enjoyed it – but been baffled at the end, not even able to discern what the advertiser was trying to communicate? (If you have trouble coming up with a specific recall right after the commercial, you can bet big money that your 24-hour recall will be a mess.)
So, how can you beat the rap of inadequate or absent communication?
Here’s how, in one easy, elementary, most reasonable exercise with your agency, you can be sure the right people will get the right message out of your commercials.
This little bit of magic is called a Communication Objective. A Communication Objective is a distillation – a tincture, if you will – of your advertising strategy or creative brief.
(If you can’t find, or have mislaid, your advertising strategy, skip right to the part where we tell you who to call to prepare your resume for moving on.)
Of course, you have an advertising strategy. It delineates, at its very minimum, who should be interested in your product and what benefit they’ll derive from using it, and why your product alone can offer that benefit. It may also include some other stuff such as mood or mandatories, but the first three factors are the guts of any advertising strategy.
That’s also the essence of the Communication Objective. When your agency presents a storyboard, ask “What do we want the viewer to remember from this commercial?” Generally, communication objectives should not describe the look of the commercial or the way the characters are to be depicted.
While executional factors are important (and you’ll spend a considerable amount of time profitably wrestling with them in your pre-production meeting), they are not the key elements of the commercial that you want remembered. If you have a Communication Objective that wants the viewer to remember how much fun it is to drink a particular beer, you decidedly don’t want people playing back, “It was a dreamy, fleeting moment, music probably by Vangelis.”
Communication Objectives should be few in number – fewer than five, even four pretty crowded. If you have more, consider: you’re trying to get a single, focused playback expressing a single cognitive bit from a single viewer. Chances of harvesting five cogent and memorable communications out of a :30 spot are very slim.
How Close Are Communication Objectives to Scene Objectives?
In that both are techniques for organizing your advertising objectives and clarifying communication, they are closely related. However, the Communication Objective is a simple, “whole cloth” sort of exercise, to be applied at your commercial’s earliest presentation stages. In fact, it is a really good idea to ask an agency’s creative group either before or after they show you the advertising, “What playback would you be happy to get from our target viewer of this commercial?”
If you’ve got an ad for a superior-performing cleaning product, for example, you’d be delighted if viewers played back that your product gets out the tough stains – and does it better than competition.
Scene objectives, on the other hand, come in handy when clarifying the net take-away of a specific scene in the commercial: here’s where we establish our mom in an upscale kitchen; here’s where we introduce our product; etc.
If you have multiple Communication Objectives, go through the storyboard and identify the particular parts of the commercial that are supporting each of the objectives. If you’re having trouble finding a match between storyboard and objectives – well, probably the viewer will, too.
Communication Objectives are useful at the production bidding stage, too. Smart agency producers will include them in the material given to prospective directors. This will help the directors to focus their energy in the right direction as they determine what their “treatment” or approach to the production will be, and to help insure that the bid allows for these objectives to be given sufficient emphasis.
Communication objectives should be reviewed again during the pre-production meeting to serve as a benchmark by which all decisions can be measured.
Casting On-Camera Principal roles can sometimes be a difficult part of the production process because so much is riding on a compelling, credible performance.
Want to keep your next casting selection running as smoothly as possible? Follow the guidelines below, and you’ll be well on your way!
#1 – Casting Specifications
Review and approve casting specifications complete with enough clear, useful detail to define the roles the casting director is being asked to fill.
- “35-45 male, good looking bot not too ‘Modelly’…” can be interpreted in may ways. Add relevant details.
- When pinning an age to a role, be clear this is a “looks like” age and not a chronological age. Many re-cast sessions have been called because the callbacks were “too young” or “too old.”
- Share a relevant and tangible key motivation to the role description as a starting point: “…he is a retail store manager who is authoritative and confident but not arrogant…”
- It can be easy to have too much style direction, so choose the clearest and most defining.
#2 – Timing
Allow sufficient time for specs alignment prior to casting and for review & approval of agency recommendations.
- Specs should be reviewed at the pre-bid meeting so there is time for corrections, if needed, prior to the award.
- The conversation, however, can start earlier as the script is evolving and approved: Consider having the creative team include a profile of who the character is in the original script and storyboard. Will this change over time? Perhaps, but it provides insight into what the copywriter is thinking. You may or may not be in agreement, but it’s a place to start the conversation with a “flesh and bones” development.
- Establish a regular approval process: Casting selects should be posted within a set number of days before your pre-production meeting, allowing enough time for review and alignment across all stakeholders.
#3 – Criteria for Evaluation
90% of the performance you will see on shoot day will be present in the casting select files. Establish criteria for what will show the range in delivery. Don’t expect the director to be able to “pull” a performance out of an actor who doesn’t demonstrate an ability to deliver the performance in audition.
- Reading the whole script vs. select lines: If the talent read the whole script, remember that unless this is is a one-take monologue / presenter role, the script will be read several times in different scenes with different emphasis.
- Choose one line and ask it to be read 3 times in a row – with different deliveries and intensities.
Remember, like everything else in commercial production — from creative development to editorial — casting is a process. If it feels rushed, too complex, or confusing — contact us…we may be able to help.
Over the last several years, MRA has been increasingly helping marketers conquer big-picture production challenges, think differently about their production supply chain, and innovate the way they work. Why? Because the shifting media landscape has required marketers to find innovative ways to produce more and more content – with flat or decreasing budgets.
Whether or not you’ve fallen victim to this “content requirements vs. budget” predicament in the past, if you’re like most, you may soon find yourself searching for ways to maximize efficiencies in your production ecosystem. So, we invite you to check out 3 tips below:
Tip #1: Explore alternative models for production optimization. Evolving content needs and tightening budgets have led to the expansion of alternative AOR providers that marketers can tap for managing content deliverables. Often times, though, we’ve seen that brand teams are unclear which solutions providers are best suited and whether or not the AOR should retain some role in the process.
Leverage internal resources or 3rd party production experts to develop a best practice engagement model for specialty suppliers, mapping project types with partners who can deliver the greatest value/quality at the leanest delivery based on objectives, timelines and budgetary considerations.
By exploring new models, you have the ability to evolve relationships with traditional production partners and uncover potential new content partners and solutions – including creating or expanding your own in-house capabilities.
Tip #2: Implement addressable creative/production best practices. As an emerging area we’ve seen for many global clients, addressable creative for programmatic media buys enables marketers to execute countless creative executions through a streamlined set of master templates that otherwise would be cost-prohibitive to even consider producing.
As brands look to leverage the targeted marketing effectiveness that addressable provides, agencies are challenged with process learning curves that are complicated by the need for multiple agency partners to work together to execute the creative. There’s opportunity to drive significant cost efficiency in how work is executed by identifying cost drivers and implementing best practices to streamline workflows that eliminate overlapping scopes among agency partners. Contact us to learn more about these opportunities and how you might minimize the risk of duplication between agency partners.
Tip #3: Assess your technology stack. As we all know, the marketing tech landscape continues to widen, and there are a multitude of emerging technologies that can help you maximize transparency, increase efficiency, decrease costs, and mitigate risk. A few popular tech trends we’re seeing?
- Maximizing transparency with electronic bidding tools
- Mitigating risks with rights management software
- Tracking asset usage with watermarking technology
- Optimizing personalized content delivery with AI
Need help assessing where your tech gaps might be? Or looking for recommendations for specific tools or solutions providers? MRA is proud to have strategic affiliations with leading global technology companies and can help connect you with a multitude of resources. Let us know how we can help.
Let’s face it, creating assets for your advertising or content campaigns is no small task. In fact, it can be an extremely complex process. Without the proper procedures in place you could be spinning your wheels unnecessarily.
Wikipedia describes Standard Operating Procedures as “a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations”.
It’s likely that your employer has invested tremendous amounts of time and resources into developing robust SOPs. Why? “When employees follow the SOP for a particular job, they produce a product that is consistent and predictable.” (www.quickbooks.com)
Many organizations, though, don’t have Standard Operating Procedures for production. Do you? While production SOPs are indeed helpful for employees, they’re also utilized by external partners who are executing creative production on your behalf. Similar to “traditional” SOPs, production procedures offer a multitude of benefits. First of all, they allow you to leverage clear, disciplined, best-practice processes to improve quality, maintain consistency, protect your organization from loss, and lower costs.
3 Additional Benefits Production Policies & Procedures Offer:
- Allows for careful upfront planning of production budgets
- Accelerates speed to market
- Maximizes transparency
While Production SOPs add tremendous value for advertisers, many organizations lack the internal resources or knowledge to develop them internally, so they reach out to MRA for help. Regardless of whether we’re engaged to optimize your production investments on an ongoing basis, we can help you develop customized procedures, train your internal stakeholders, and educate your agency partners.
It’s an easy, seamless process – and MRA does all the heavy lifting. Interested in how we do it, how long it will take, and what’s required of you? We’d be glad to share our SOPs for building your SOPs.
Contact us today to learn more.
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
- 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.
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:
- 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?
- Do you want to re-record the composition with a parody lyric?
- For television, how many spots are you producing and what are the timings of each spot? (include versions, edits, lifts, tags)
- What is the media buy? (network, cable, spot syndication)
- Are you doing any radio spots? If so, how many? Lifts, versions, edits?
- 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.
- Term – How long will the campaign run and what is the first air date?
- Territory – What cities, states, and countries will the campaign be airing?
- Exclusivity – Do you need exclusivity and if so, for what product category?
- 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.
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:
- 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)
- 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
- 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.