TV Production Breakthrough: The Canon 5D

January 25, 2012

Just a few years ago, only the big guys could afford to shoot their commercials on 35mm film, while smaller companies had to settle for the harsh, cheap look of video tape.

Not anymore!

The Canon 5D Mark II Digital Camera evens the playing field by delivering stunning, film-like images for 85% less. This Hi-Definition camera does it all from producing shallow depth of field to delivering rich, realistic scenes under low lighting conditions.  The camera is so amazing, so film-like, that the Director of Photography for the award winning TV show “House” shot the entire 7th season on it!

And with the Canon 5D, you can do a lot more with less. Gone are the days of 15 person crews… lugging lights and equipment from scene-to -scene.  A shot that took almost two hours to light for a film shoot, can now be lit to the same exact standards with a two-person crew in less than 45 minutes!

There’s little doubt that the Canon 5D has brought affordable, high-end TV production to the local advertiser.

Here’s hoping it won’t be wasted on the same low-end concepts?

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Live Action versus Animated

December 29, 2010

Which Works Best?

In an analysis of television ads across all product categories, Nielsen found that in general, live action ads were more effective than animated ads.

For all major categories, live action ads scored 22% higher than animated-only ads in Brand Recall — which is the percentage of TV viewers who can recall the commercial and its adverted brand 24 hour after viewing it.

Live action creatives were more effective than animated ads across all major demographics as well. While live action ads resonated equally among both genders, Brand Recall was 27% stronger for females and 17% stronger among males than for animated ads.

Adults 35 to 49 saw a 24% increase in brand recall for ads that used live action vs. animated. The gap did shrink among viewers aged 13-35, who only showed an 11% change between live action and animated creatives.

When looking at consumer packaged goods specifically, ads in the personal care category appeared to struggle the most when using animation. For certain personal care products, brand recall was twice as high among spots using live action vs. an animated theme.

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Is Your TV Commercial Falling on Deaf Ears?

June 21, 2010

Even while new devices like the iPad continue to drive simultaneous usage (people watching TV while they are online) there appears to be very little difference between people’s online usage habits when they’re watching TV and when they are not. 

According to a new J.D. Power Study, people who use their computers while they watch TV tend to be doing the same things online as people who are not watching TV at the same time:  email, chatting, shopping, etc.

Simultaneous use is a growing phenomenon:  Nearly 40% of people use TV and the web simultaneously each week.

This means that your TV commercials have to work harder than ever before. For the first time, sound may take precedence over sight when engaging the consumer and ultimately determining a campaign’s success or failure.   

Web-tasking consumers are simply ignoring commercials that don’t possess an audio hook.  Do your company’s TV commercials have what it takes to get this ever growing segment to look up from their iPads and laptops?  Or do your commercials sound like every other commercial in the break? How is your ad agency addressing this issue?   

The time where visuals alone could carry the day is gone forever. Without the right audio strategy, your message could be falling on deaf ears.

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How to Use Music in Retail TV Advertising

September 25, 2009

Music, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful yet underutilized tools in advertising.

Anyone who remembers the mid-70s also remembers:

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a Sesame Seed Bun!!

Thirty years later I can still hum this old McDonald’s commercial. Times have changed, and trends in advertising music have definitely changed, but music’s role in advertising is as relevant as ever.

The biggest problem in today’s jingles is executions that push TOO HARD to make the viewer feel a certain way about the brand. Watching TV the other night, I saw a commercial for a local carpet store. At the end, a singer belts out gleefully:

JB factory carpets … the biggest … the best … always the lowest price!

I have to question whether I believe the singer’s sincerity. Is she really that happy about JB’s selection of fine carpets? Doubtful. And neither are the viewers.  It’s the classic mistake of an advertiser talking about themselves, rather than addressing the viewers wants from the viewer’s point of view. Or maybe it’s the trite use of “biggest and best” … which ranks right up there with other homogenous phrases like “we won’t be undersold.”

True, the old McDonalds piece is a list of what you get on a burger. But it had charm and invited viewers to participate in seeing whether or not they could remember the list. And most importantly, the singers never hit you over the head with a refrain of “limited time only.

Like many jingles in the 80s, the music painted a happy vibe that viewers associated with the brand. Remember Dr. Pepper’s “I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper”? And Toyota’s “I love what you do for me? Major advertisers haven’t forgotten how music can build brands …the executions have simply evolved.

Ba da ba-ba-ba … I’m Lovin’ It.

Indeed, I am. Here, McDonalds does it again. The music (and singers) establish an emotional connection with the listener, letting the Voice Over do the selling. The overall result is a commercial that reminds customers that McDonalds is more than just a value menu – but an experience you WANT to have.

Of course, there are times when the singer/music has to contribute a little more muscle within the message. Like singing the phone number for example. Just make sure the melody isn’t overly sappy if the lyrics are little more than a set of digits.

The music in this commercial humorously plugs the word “Free” 9 times within the span of 15 seconds. This is a perfect example of music conveying a very pointed message.

 

Here, a musical sting at the end of the spot reinforces the phone number. This is a more aggressive example of using music to achieve a very specific communication goal.

 

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The Art of Saying it all in a 15-Second Retail TV Commercial (and having it stick)

September 24, 2009

Yes, 15-second TV commercials are a wonderful tool for building media frequency. In fact, I’ve been a big proponent of them for years. And having been involved in the creation of hundreds of them, I can tell you they’re harder than 30s to pull off.

In developing the “creative idea,” focus on scenarios and situations that viewers can understand quickly. If they’re spending the entire commercial trying to “figure things out,” they’re not listening to your advertising message.

Since time is against you, it’s even more important to reinforce your brand along with the message. Consider finding ways to play up your brand’s colors … finding unexpected ways of integrating the logo … or dramatic moments that illustrate your point succinctly.

In short, things that will stick with the viewer long after the commercial has ended. 

Above all, PACE yourself. Make sure the message is clear from the beginning because you won’t have the time to repeat everything. Most 15-second commercials feel like 30s that were crammed into half the time. If your pace is too quick, all will be lost.

Below are 3 examples, each using a different technique. All are unique in their own way. Yet all establish the premise immediately and pace themselves carefully.

In this commercial for one of our financial services clients, we used the entire span of 15 seconds to take the viewer on a visual journey ending up at an unexpected visual element that reinforces the client’s brand.

 

Here, multiple cuts and scenes make this 15-second spot seem longer than 15 seconds. At the end, the brand is represented by its people.

 

In this more recent commercial for the same client, the actor delivers lines directly to camera in a simple monologue format –  while the “visual surprise” reveals itself in the window behind her.

 

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How a Splurge Can Give Your Retail TV Commercial Serious Creative Firepower

September 22, 2009

I’ll begin by stating the obvious: not everybody has the ad budget of a Fortune 500 company. But that doesn’t mean your creative can’t compete on a national level. You just have to make your production money work harder. 

Should you opt for an animated logo treatment? Custom music track? Film instead of video? A big name talent? You DON’T have to use them all to give your commercial serious creative firepower. They key is knowing what to splurge on.

By spending your money on one or two pricier components, the rest of your commercial production is elevated to a new level. Here are some examples where one or two splurges gave the TV creative national-caliber impact without a national-caliber budget.  

Here, the storefront footage already existed. All we did was resize it and add quotation marks, which was VERY inexpensive. However, we needed a special voice over talent to bring the commercial to life. We opted for Tom Sharpe, for his widely recognized voice and unique style of humor. He was the only expensive component (10 times the cost of your average voice over talent) but well worth the expense. 

 

Here, the custom music track and the animated logo treatment were the most expensive items (about $7,000 combined). However, these elements were used again and again in future commercials keeping long-term production costs down while keeping production values up.

 

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Anatomy of a Retail TV Commercial

September 21, 2009

Creativity in advertising should be anything but formulaic. A good idea, powerful visuals, a great voice over talent and a strong script will go a long way.

However, there’s something to be said for structure.  Notice I said “structure” and not “formula.”  The process demonstrated here shows how structuring the message can help viewers retain the message.

While this example shows the beginning, the middle, and the end of a retail TV commercial that communicates successfully, it’s important to note that variables can shift based on the complexity and amount of information.

1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them.

Start by telling your customers the “news.” If the commercial is about a special sale, tell them what it is. Better yet, find a hook people can remember.

EXAMPLE:

VO: At Florida Leather Gallery, think FREE times THREE! …

2) Tell them.

Now add the details. Reference any specific product shots, prices or particular offers. In this segment, the price/offer statement should be featured.

VO: … For a limited time, get free delivery, 2 full years free financing, and we’ll even pay your sales tax!

(Onscreen, a viewer sees graphics that coincide with the voice over and further support the offer):

1. FREE / Free delivery

2. FREE / Two years free financing

3. FREE / We’ll pay your sales tax

3) Tell them what you told them.

You’re running out of time, so focus on restating the sale name /hook/offer so they the main message stays with them.

VO: What are you waiting for! Think FREE, times THREE!

MUSIC/SINGER: Florida Leather Gallery!

A good structure will keep your message from getting confusing or convoluted. It’ll also keep you disciplined in making sure your message works within the small window of a 30-second TV commercial (or 15 seconds, as with the example above.)

 

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