Is your TV production process moving forward or stuck in the old ways?

This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.

TV production process

Recently I received an email from an “Institute” claiming that they were researching the current state of the global TVC production industry.

They said that they had read several of my posts on the TrinityP3 site and considered me to be an expert on the international TVC production industry. Of course, I was extremely flattered to be labeled as an industry expert. The email then went on to propose that I forward my insights to them so that they could incorporate them into their “white paper” on the global production industry as it now stands.

It did not take long for the penny to drop (having a healthy cynicism is one of the most important traits a production expert should have). Of course the “Institute” would use my insights and re-brand them as their own, passing themselves off as industry experts and perhaps even make an income from their new-found expertise without doing the hard yards, many years of hands-on experience and constant monitoring of the industry. So I declined their kind invitation to share my specialist knowledge with them, instead to continue to share it here with you.

The state of the television production industry

But their invitation did make me think that the current state of the TVC production industry is one of confusion, mistrust, and fear. In fact, this could be said about the advertising industry in general. I will keep my generalisations to TV production and television as an advertising media.

This confusion is partly driven by the impact of technology on the advertising industry and particularly the production industry. The cost of entry into the production arena has dropped as digital technology has made production equipment and the process more cost-effective. In fact, it is so cost-effective that many companies, and particularly their marketing departments, are building video production capabilities in-house to cost-effectively produce the huge amounts of video content many marketers need for their content marketing.

So, from back in the early days of television onward, if you wanted to advertise on TV you went to an advertising agency and they took care of everything to do with TV advertising, from script to on-air scheduling and everything in between. But now things have changed.

Now an advertiser has a multitude of options: you can buy each and every agency service individually from any number of specialist service providers, you can bring the whole production process in-house and contract the experts you need when you need them or you can still leave it all up to the agency. The reality is that advertisers are now tailoring their production models to what suits them and their needs.

Sticking with the traditional model

Many of the big advertisers seem to be locked into the agency model by their own inability to change due to the inertia of their very size and their inability to adapt.

TrinityP3 recently did an analysis of the production costs for a large multinational CPG advertiser developing a production model reaching across all territories that would have halved the regions production budget without creative or regional sensibilities being compromised.

But the decision to go ahead and implement the idea was rejected as the regional lead could not get consensus from the individual regional players, many of whom were only interested in protecting their own budgets and authority with little care or consideration for the savings, brand consistencies and budget efficiencies that could be achieved across the region. The production cost transparency in many of these regional fiefdoms is almost nonexistent.

A new emerging approach to production

On the other hand, some advertisers are using what I call hybrid production models, in they are doing what they feel comfortable with in-house, like casting and contracting talent or even organizing the logistics and locations for the shoot, something typically the production house would do. These advertisers still hire key crew members but they are more and more hiring people they have worked with before and feel comfortable with, someone they believe understands their category and their brand, and with whom they can communicate, instead of leaving it to the agency to choose.

Not only does this method of production save money, but it empowers the advertisers own marketing staff and gives them a real sense of creative input and ownership of the production, which has to be a good thing. Of course, if the marketing staff feel they are not up to the full challenge they can start with small steps (like casting only) and build their confidence.

Some advertisers are following the lead of one of our clients who are doing away with the agency (and added costs) altogether. We know this will not work for all advertisers, but at least it is worth exploring the alternatives out there and considering your options rather than just wondering what could be.

As Alan Arkin said “Either you’re growing or you’re decaying; there’s no middle ground. If you’re standing still, you’re decaying”.

TrinityP3 works across all areas of advertising, media and marketing and therefore believes that while TV production is a relatively small part of advertising, for major advertisers, after buying media it can be the single most expensive part. Therefore, you as an advertiser owe it to your organization, your brand and yourself to explore ways of moving your production forward. We can certainly help you navigate the options available to you today and help work out the best solution to move your production forward.


How much are you paying for your advertising production? Are those costs reasonable? Discover how we can help with advertising production here.

About Clive Duncan

Clive has spent all his working life in the film and television industry and was invited to join the TrinityP3 team as their TV production senior consultant. Clive has the unique advantage of having hands on experience at almost every level of TVC production and understands the complex relationships required to produce creative and cost effective TVCs. View Clive's full bio here

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