Agile Marketing Trends and Considerations for Production
In recent years, we’ve watched the world’s most enduring brands undergo significant change. They were navigating an evolving media landscape and needed to find ways to engage with consumers more effectively.
Then, 2020 hit — and the pandemic put marketing and agency teams to the true test. They were forced to shift strategies, re-concept creative, and modify messaging.
While the need for flexible, nimble movement has been essential during the outbreak, the idea of “agile marketing” has been heating up for some time.
This “forced” need for agility may be catapulting brands into sustainable future practices. Check out our Industry Report, “A Catalyst for Change: Agile Marketing Trends and Considerations for Production” for a deeper dive on the topic.
Industry Report: Extreme Disruption
Because of COVID-19, many marketers stepped away from carefully laid plans and playing constant catch up to shifting priorities. On top of that, they’ve begun to scrutinize investments like never before.
When lockdowns began, some brands moved at a rapid pace. They modified creative, repurposed footage, and identified new production approaches. Others temporarily paused marketing efforts altogether.
Now, as brands begin to navigate the “new norm” they’re finding that flexibility remains a must — across media, creative, and production.
Recently, MRA conducted a survey of our client partners to learn how COVID-19 impacted their key initiatives. Additionally, we wanted to learn how they’ve tackled the marketing challenges of the pandemic.
Check out what we learned and view additional insights in our report, “Extreme Disruption and the Road to Recovery.”
Licensing of Popular Music in Advertising
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.
4 Pros And Cons Of Shooting Off-Shore
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.
Save Big Money By Asking the Right Questions
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.
Best Practice Timelines for Live Action Production
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.
How Does Integrated Marketing Communications Intersect With Production?
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:
- Social media
- Sales promotions
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
- Point of purchase
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.
3 Budgeting Pitfalls to Avoid
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.
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.
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.
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.
Budget Planning: Fall Into More Money
With today’s consumers digesting content at a rate like never before, organizations are struggling to keep up. Marketers are challenged to create more content, more often — yet have stagnant (or decreasing) budgets. So, how do you overcome the challenge of doing more with less? During this “budgeting season” we wanted to share a few ways you can approach “finding” more money in your budget. Check out three real-life examples:
Refine Your Content Production Strategy
This can help drive creative synergies, increase speed to market, and lead to significant cost efficiencies — especially for advertisers looking to globalize advertising development and production. So, where do you begin?
- Tap an internal or external production expert to analyze current processes, creative outputs, staffing, technology tools, content needs, and spending across brands and geographies to identify opportunities, barriers, and challenges.
- Develop an annual planning protocol — and stick to it
- Determine the optimal production approach(es) based on your content needs for the next year
- Analyze historical benchmarks and develop a methodology for tracking success
MRA was tapped to lead this process for a global advertiser. The results? 44% savings in production costs versus historical benchmarks for comparable scopes. Click here to request the full case study.
Establish Targeted Production Investment Levels
Whether you’re investing broadcast and digital video, creating target investment levels based on deliverable type and complexity can have a significant and positive impact for your organization.
Start by building standard cost ranges (based on historical benchmarks) for the various components of production. A few examples of these “components” include:
- Video style (presenter, single storyline, testimonial, vignette, etc.)
- Testing (boardomatic, 2D animatic, 3D cinematic, etc.)
- Number of locations
- Number of shoot days
- Music (licensed, stock, custom, etc.)
Once all components have been considered, develop categorizations based complexity and deliverable type to be used as “building blocks” for budgeting.
Next, create a budgeting tool which factors in additional elements which may increase/decrease the investment level. A few examples of these additional elements include:
- Heavy CGI or special effects
- Multiple casts
- Shooting in a low-cost location
- Repurposing existing assets
By right-sizing your budgets based on historical benchmarks, deliverable type, and complexity you have the opportunity to drive efficiencies all year long. In fact, one of our clients tapped us for help and captured $1.5M in efficiencies within the first year alone!
Create a Strategy for Scaling Social Media
These days, marketers are struggling with the need to produce more and more content for social channels — with flat budgets. Many organizations are finding themselves with unsustainable year-over-year expenditures in social media and are looking for new approaches to be able to scale their program. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s something to consider:
- Leverage an internal or external expert to evaluate optimal content for driving the best interaction across channels
- Look at social media posts over the last 12 months and analyze interaction rates
- Identify trends in interaction rates by content types and posting cadence
MRA was recently tapped by a global advertiser who needed help in scaling their social media program. By partnering with our client’s marketing team and agency, MRA was able to analyze engagement trends and identify multiple opportunities to stretch budgets and drive efficiency. The results? Our client stretched their social content production budget by more than 35%. Click here to request the full case study.
As you can see, falling into more money comes in all shapes and sizes. Understand the strategies currently accepted by your company and what strategies might improve your approach based on the culture and tolerance for change.
Check out our upcoming article as we’ll provide steps on enhancing your 2018 budgeting processes.
Written in collaboration with Angela Saferite.