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.
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?
TV advertising is not going anywhere, just evolving. It’s always been about getting consumers to act, and incorporating the use of today’s smartphone applications is the newest way to bring more
impact to your TV commercials.
According to a study done by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), in 2010, 33% of U.S. households owned a smartphone. With that number estimated to skyrocket to 45% by 2012, advertisers are already starting to adopt the use of mobile applications in their TV campaigns.
Brands like Tide® and Old Navy® have recently integrated the music identification application, Shazam® into current TV commercials. It’s simple too, no typing in long URLs or performing lengthy Google searches. The commercials feature songs, so all the consumer has to do is open up the Shazam® application and let it identify the song playing in the ad. From there they will have options to go straight to that brand’s website, purchase product, etc. With the Old Navy® ad you even have the option to buy the outfit the person is wearing in the ad!
This new trend will not only make TV ads more interactive for consumers, but allow advertisers to more accurately measure the performance of the ads while tracking TV conversions.
Integrating mobile apps into your TV advertisements works well all around – the consumer gets to interact with the ad while the advertisers are able to more easily direct traffic to brands’ websites. Shazam® is just the beginning; as this advertising tactic grows, the variety of applications available for integration will most likely grow as well.
Let’s just cut to the chase? As it stands today, TV advertising builds brands. Internet advertising does not. There’s little doubt that once a brand is established, the Internet can and does keep the momentum moving forward, but until that point is reached all the banner ads and twitter tweets will do little to ingrain your brand into the psyche of the consumer.
Creating a memorable brand requires more than getting people to talk about your product on a social network. It requires the advertiser to make an emotional connection that television does so well. Do you honestly think Nike would be the #1 sports brand if it wasn’t for television advertising? Or would you feel the same connection with a little known insurance company if their AFLAC-ing duck never made its way onto your television screen?
Sure technology has changed, but the basic rules of effective marketing remain the same. You still need reach and frequency to create most truly memorable brands. And television advertising delivers both better than anything else out there.
Television has a rich history of transforming everyday companies into household names. From packaged goods to insurance, from fast food to tires – television has been responsible for creating some of the most memorable advertising icons.
Who can forget …
The Energizer Bunny … Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes … Joe Isuzu … Tony The Tiger … The Michelin Man … Mr. Whipple … Dave Thomas … Mr. Peanut … The Keebler Elves … The Maytag Repairman … The Geico Gecko … Charlie The Tuna … Ronald McDonald … Mrs. Olsen … Jared from Subway … Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller … Orville Redenbacher … The Marlboro Man …Colonel Sanders … Pillsbury Doughboy … Chef Boyardee … The AFLAC Duck … The California Raisins … Morris the Cat … The Quaker Oats Man … The Green Giant … Juan Valdez … The Doublemint Twins … The Budweiser Frogs … Rosie, The Bounty quicker picker upper … Aunt Jemima … Mr. Clean … The Verizon Wireless “Can You Hear Me Now” Man … Betty Crocker … The Lucky Charms Elf … The Geico Cavemen
Now, recall just one advertising icon or brand that wasn’t first introduced to you on television.
The ultimate test of an effective television commercial is NOT how entertaining it was, but did it get results. More specifically, did viewers respond with their hard earned money?
As a retailer, if your agency can’t produce tangible results for your business then show them the door. And you’ll probably be ushering them out sooner rather than later, if your commercials lack any of these six basic elements:
Does your TV commercial…
1) Motivate viewers to take action immediately.
2) Explicitly communicate your product or service’s advantages over other choices.
3) Visually arouse your prospect. Test this by turning the sound off and see if it still has the same visual effect.
4) Inspire trust, confidence and believability.
5) Provide a single consistent message that penetrates the viewers’ minds and stays there long after the commercial is over.
6) Grabs the viewers’ attention within the first three to five seconds. Remember the remote control is your worst enemy. You must engage the audience quickly or risk losing them.
I want to thank David Frey, author of the best-selling manual, “The Small Business Marketing Bible” for these tips. He’s spot on!
Even with 86% of all movie goers venturing online everyday, most first learn of new movies the old-fashioned way: TV Commercials and in-theater trailers. No, not banner ads, not YouTube, not even Twitter polled higher than television.
Out of 3,850 movie goers who were surveyed – 73% said that they first gain awareness of new releases from TV commercials, followed by 70% from in-theater trailers.
Word-of-mouth followed at 46%, and the Internet at 44%.
What makes these numbers even more interesting is that 73% of the movie goers surveyed use social networking sites.
Good news for the much maligned TV industry and not so good news for those who would have us believe that the Internet and social media are just a tweet away from replacing traditional advertising.
The latest Three Screen Report from Nielsen finds there is again another jump in viewing done over the Internet. And to the surprise of some, traditional television viewing also continues to grow. However, the report notes a slight decrease for watching video on mobile devices.
“Although we have seen the computer and mobile phone screens taking on a significant role, their emergence has not been at the cost of TV viewership,” Nielsen’s Jim O’Hara commented. “The entire media universe is expanding so consumers are choosing to add elements to their media experience, rather than to replace them.”
In the second quarter of 2009, the monthly time spent watching TV in the home by each user reached 141 hours and 3 minutes, up from 139:00 a year ago.
People who watch video on the Internet averaged 3 hours and 11 minutes compared to 2:02 last year.
However, the monthly time spent watching video on mobile phones was actually lower than a year ago … down from 3 hours and 37 minutes to 3:15.
Is it any surprise that major retailers still turn to traditional TV to reach the masses? People spend more time with television in just two days than they spend all month long watching video on the Internet and mobile phones combined.
And when it comes to critical mass, TV continues to lead the way in a big way. While Internet and mobile viewing are showing growth over previous years, numbers that do so are still relatively small, especially for mobile viewing.
Nielsen finds that 284.4 million Americans watched some TV in their homes during the second quarter. Less than half of them (about 134 million) watched some video on the Internet, while only 15.3 million watched video on mobile phones.
Graphics are a great way of supporting your advertising message. But if they’re not handled carefully, they’ll hurt the clarity of your commercial rather than enhancing it. Here are a few things to consider when adding prices, offers and logos:
1) Consider Letterbox.
Traditional Letterbox (see example below) places your commercial between two black bands, much like the format of your favorite DVD when you watch it widescreen. This usually requires planning before the TV shoot so the picture is condensed to fit the Letterbox size.
This format is wonderful for showing detail within a scene (because you’re condensing the picture), but it’s also a GREAT tool for placing graphics. Addresses, logos and phone numbers work beautifully when placed in a Letterbox format, keeping such elements from dominating your footage.
2) Restrict your color palette.
Be careful you don’t use all the colors of the rainbow when creating your “supers” (another word for on-screen graphics). It’s good to have some color variation (usually two colors) to compartmentalize the information so it’s read easily. Too many colors confuses the eye and detracts from the footage within the commercial.
3) Place your graphics consistently.
Don’t confuse the viewer by jumping all around the screen. Place graphics so that they enhance the message and don’t distract from it. If you have a series of graphic elements, consider keeping them in the same placement.
4) Consider instances where the graphics may be more important than the footage.
If the footage is more or less the same throughout (i.e. rows of used cars or a showroom of random pieces of furniture), there may be an opportunity to let the graphics play a more dominant role within the message. In cases like this when large prices may cover most of the screen, try defocusing your background to enhance readability.
5) Introduce type elements in an interesting way.
If the pace of your retail commercial is “urgent,” consider introducing your type onscreen using motion. Your TV editor can offer a variety of ways to do so. This little trick spices things up, giving the price/super a life of its own.
And now for my disclaimer: The key to using the list above is knowing what’s appropriate for your audience and making choices with great care. A used car commercial and a financial services commercial targeting seniors are two different animals. In one, moving type and interesting visual tricks can add excitement. In the other, unrestrained stylistic choices can cheapen the message and appear distasteful. Determine the right tone for your commercial, and let it be your guide.
Here’s a commercial for a local car dealer that demonstrates all of the above.
Hang around on set during a TV production and you’ll likely scratch your head once or twice wondering what a “Best Boy” is. In TV, there are lots of unusual names for the people and things behind the scenes of each commercial being brought to life.
Having been on set hundreds of times, I often hear the same questions again and again from clients who are also attending the shoot.
I’ve compiled a list of terms here:
DP: Director of Photography
AC: Assistant Camera
AD: Assistant Director / PA: Production Assistant
Gaffer: The chief lighting technician for a production who is in charge of the electrical department.
Key Grip: The chief grip who works directly with the gaffer in creating shadow effects for set lighting and who supervises camera cranes, dollies and other platforms or supporting structures according to the requirements of the director of photography.
Best Boy: The assistant chief lighting technician or the assistant to the key grip.
Slate: The identifier placed in front of the camera at beginning of a take.
Key Light: The main light on a subject. (Lighting)
Dolly Shot: Any shot made from a moving dolly. These may also be called tracking or traveling shots.
Pan: A horizontal movement of a camera on a fixed axis.
Gate: The aperture assembly at which the film is exposed in a camera, printer, or projector. This should always be checked before moving on to a new shot to make sure no hairs or dust particles got inside the camera. These things can ruin a shot.
Apple Box: A box built of a strong wood or plywood, which is capable of supporting weight. These may be of various sizes, the smallest of which is also known as a ‘pancake’ because it is nearly flat. (Lighting/Grip)
Rough cut: A preliminary trial stage in the process of editing a film. Shots are laid out in approximate relationship to an end product without detailed attention to the individual cutting points.
Food Stylist: An artist who works on set to perfect the look of food being shot. This is a specialist, who concentrates on food preparation and presentation.
MOS: A term in TV commercials when you’re shooting subjects but not recording sound.
VO: Voice Over. The narrative voice you hear in TV spots.
Super: Refers to type on screen that supports a sales offer.
There you have it. Memorize these and you’ll impress everyone on set next time. Again, these are some of the most commonly terms used. If you’d like to learn oodles more – and by oodles I mean hundreds – click here: Filmland
Companies who want their TV commercials to look national often hone in on the “look.” And the biggest commonality among commercials produced by major brands comes down to a four-letter word: FILM.
Major advertisers overwhelmingly choose film for their commercials for all kinds of reasons. Ask the country’s top commercial film directors and they’ll go on and on. Film has warmth. Film makes ideas seem more credible. Film makes a commercial seem more important to the viewer. Film provides a glow and softness that makes the viewer forget that there’s a camera and crew in the room.
Problem is, not everybody can afford to shoot on 35 mm film or even 16 mm film. Fortunately, there are viable options that didn’t exist a few years ago.
First up is the Veracam, a video camera that simulates the look of film. This one has been around and works beautifully.
Another option is the “Red” – one of the newest cameras on the market. This camera is entirely digital and simulates the look of film. And many say it’s the best at doing so.
The Red also comes with another plus. Because it shoots everything digitally – and at a VERY high degree of quality – the images can be used in print applications like ads and brochures. (Do that with film and everything’s fuzzy.)
In both the Veracam and the Red, there is no film stock to buy…and no expensive telecine lab needed for color correcting. However, final shots selected for your commercial will still need color correction, which can be done easily by the editor or the director.
Without getting too mired in technical data, why not judge for yourself. Can you tell which was shot on film and which was shot digitally (Red Camera)? If you can’t … do you think you customers will?