John Lewis made the most of a set of digital animals it commissioned by reusing them in different mediums ©John Lewis
John Lewis made the most of a set of digital animals it commissioned by reusing them in different mediums ©John Lewis

TV production is 'a buyers' market'

9 February 2018

Procuring television production is a buyers’ market, marketing buyers have been told. 

Steve Davies, chief executive of the APA, which represents production and visual effects companies, said competition between production companies in London meant firms were fighting for work.

He said: “Competition within [London] is quite hot. Essentially production companies and visual effects companies have to fight for your work. It creates an absolute buyers’ market where you’ve got companies fighting for your work on expertise and price.”

Davies was speaking yesterday alongside other members of the production industry at a CIPS Marketing Group event, hosted by the Moving Picture Company (MPC) in Soho. Here are their top tips for procuring TV production:

1. Triple bidding gives the best value for money

Be wary of in-house, end-to-end production solutions, said James Bland, managing partner and executive producer of Blink Productions.

Traditionally advertising agencies will tender your concept to a number of production companies in a competitive process – referred to a triple bid process – as the agencies normally come back to clients with three options.

But there has been an increase in agencies offering non-competitive in-house solutions. “As procurement professionals, I recommend you be suspicious,” said Bland. “Don’t take the first opportunity that’s given to you, don’t take the bait if you’re being offered an in-house solution because that might not be the best solution.”

Bland recommends buyers insist any production over £25,000 should be put through a triple bid process.

2. Cut your cloth accordingly

Do you really need a cinematic Hollywood style advert when most of your target demographic will be seeing your advert on a smartphone, asked Oliver Forder, head of business development at MPC? When it comes to evaluating what visual effects technology to buy for example, invest in the technology at the financial level appropriate for the output you require, bearing in mind where it’s going to appear.

Likewise when investing in talent, consider whether it’s worth hiring an effects expert who is less expensive by the hour but will take longer, or someone more expensive but who can fulfil your brief in a day.

3. Make the most of digital assets you’ve invested in

John Lewis commissioned a set of digital assets for its 2016 Christmas ad, with a collection of virtual woodland creatures on a trampoline. The retailer capitalised on its investment in a number of ways by using the same characters in an in-store virtual reality experience and through a social media campaign. MPC, which created the original assets, was able to repurpose them into the different formats.

4. A lower budget means fewer options not lower quality

There are different ways of filming adverts depending on the budget you have available, said Rupert Reynolds-MacLean, managing director of production company Biscuit UK. If you have the money, taking wide and multiple shots when filming can give more options when cutting.

But costs can be saved by honing your concept before you start shooting. When Biscuit shot a series of short adverts for sports betting firm Kwiff, “everything was shot in a way that was made to be done very fast on a single set,” said Reynold-MacLean. “It was three simple ideas but broken down in a way that could be done very quickly.”

“Something like that was made with only one way of making it, only one way of doing it and everybody was agreed on that one way of doing it.”

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