How many producers do you need to make a television commercial?

This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

When the credits roll on the latest Hollywood blockbuster you will notice there are a number of producer credits including Executive Producer, Producer, Effects Producer, Line Producer and often more. The producer is the person responsible for making sure the outcome gets delivered. Either raising the funds required, or ensuring they are appropriately and effectively spent to deliver a multimillion-dollar production with the hope it will deliver an even larger financial return.

While a television commercial is usually a smaller spend and scale than a full length feature film (but not always) it begs the question “How many producers does it take to make a television commercial?”

Television producers

How many producers are there?

Normally an advertiser will see only two producers on a typical television commercial shoot; the agency producer and the film or production company producer.

If the agency is particularly large, the agency producer may come as Head of Production, Senior Producer, Producer or even a Production co-ordinator. These people will usually be on staff, although some agencies are inclined to contract this function out to freelancers, rather then carry the cost of the producer on their books.

On the production company side it will depend on the size of the production company. A small production company may have the Director and a production assistant who acts as a producer, while some of the large international production companies will have an Executive Producer as well as various producers with different levels of experience.

But depending on the production you may have a whole raft of other producers involved including an Effects Producer, Sound Producer, Facilitations Producer, Post Production Producer, even a Music Producer. In these cases the producers are responsible for the specific outputs of the companies they represent, companies that have been contracted by either the agency or the production company for this production.

So to answer the question directly, you could have as few as two (agency and production company) or as many as ten or more.

What are the producers’ roles?

  • The Effects Producer is responsible for the visual effects or special effects.
  • The Sound Producer is responsible for the soundtrack including voice overs, effects and mixing.
  • The Music Producer is responsible for the music composition, recording, mixing and licencing.
  • The Post Production Producer is responsible for the editing and the production of the final master.
  • The Facilitations Producer is responsible for the work managed by a second production company to facilitate the overall production (usually required if shot overseas)
  • The Production Company Producer is responsible for delivering the project to the agreed brief from the agency.
  • The Agency Producer is responsible for the delivery of the project to the agreed brief of the client.

But no matter how many producers there are here, there appears to be one missing? Can you pick it?

Everyone has a producer responsible for the management and delivery of their part of the project. Everyone except the advertiser.

Isn’t the agency producer the client’s producer?

That is a very good question and you would generally say that this is part of their responsibility. But the fact is the Agency Producer is responsible to many people.

Usually they are employed by the agency Creative Director or Executive Creative Director who is responsible for the quality of the creative output of the agency. Therefore one of their core responsibilities is to ensure the ECD or CD is happy with the quality of the production. In practical terms this means getting to work with their preferred Director.

They are also responsible to the agency CFO as it is their responsibility to deliver the production on budget and maintain or maximise the agency’s margin in the process. The production department is a profit centre within the agency and if they underperform heads will roll.

Finally, the producer is also responsible to the Account Management lead on the account and the head of Account Management to deliver the requirements of the production to the client’s expectation. The trouble is that the technicalities of the production process mean many account management people are unable to strongly influence the outcome.

It is only in this third role that the Agency Producer acts specifically as your Producer. But ultimately there are more direct and powerful forces they must appease first.

Is it possible to have my own producer?

The short answer is YES! Many major advertisers employ production management teams within their organisations to ensure the value delivery of the production. Major Consumer Goods companies with millions of dollars in productions have found that employing these specialists in-house has delivered significant returns on investment and led to better outcomes.

But if you are not one of these huge advertisers, then it is possible to hire a producer to manage the process on your behalf on a freelance basis. Therefore when you have a major production, you can engage a producer to represent your interests.

Alternatively you could engage any one of a number of production management consultants (including TrinityP3) on a casual or retained basis. Consultants can ask the questions of the agency producer and the production company producer to ensure you are getting the best value for your production budget.

How many producers do I need?

It could be one more than you have now. But to find out feel free to talk to us. We can provide you with an assessment of your production and let you know if we can help.

Our Production Management Assessment provides a detailed evaluation of your current production operation, and recommendations to achieve optimal performance. For more information on how we can help, contact us here.

About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 – Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren’s Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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