Is Video Pro­duc­tion Killing the TVC?

Is there still room for the big bud­get tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial in a world in­creas­ingly dom­i­nated by low-cost video?


Any­one who has seen the new Nike Women cam­paign fea­tur­ing six in­spi­ra­tional fe­male ath­letes and singers from the Mid­dle East may beg to dif­fer when it comes to claims that video pro­duc­tion has killed the TVC. Here is a com­mer­cial, af­ter all, that is big, bold and global in ambition. It also hap­pened to air on tele­vi­sion dur­ing the fi­nal of Arab Idol.

The de­mand for low-cost pro­duc­tions for the likes of In­sta­gram, Youtube and Face­book, how­ever, is on the rise, and the rea­sons are ob­vi­ous. The need for brands to pro­duce video con­tent has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially, with brands favour­ing what they be­lieve to be quick-and-easy pro­duc­tions over ex­pen­sive, large-scale old school com­mer­cials. Com­mer­cials such as TBWA\RAAD’S big-bud­get Nis­san Pa­trol ad, ‘Take no sides’, which pit­ted the city against the desert.

There are, how­ever, a num­ber of is­sues at play here, not least whether it’s ac­tu­ally worth re­fer­ring to a com­mer­cial as a TVC any­more; or whether it’s even plau­si­ble for such a cam­paign to only be shown on tele­vi­sion. Isn’t all filmed con­tent plat­form ag­nos­tic? At Leo Bur­nett, for ex­am­ple, they have done away with the term al­to­gether.

“The term we use here is ‘film’ – en­ter­tain­ment and con­tent that can work in any me­dia. Dig­i­tal or tra­di­tional,” says André Nassar, re­gional ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor at Leo Bur­nett. “A cheap film, with poor con­tent and no strat­egy is very ex­pen­sive be­cause it can hurt a brand. But if you have a good film, with the right mes­sage, well crafted, it can or­gan­i­cally reach many more peo­ple than with a mega-mil­lion dol­lar me­dia plan. It be­comes cheaper. Look, cheap and fast con­tent has a place. But only if it’s backed by strate­gic pur­pose. For me, there is no high cost or low cost. There is only good or bad. Right or wrong. In­de­pen­dent of bud­get.”

Work­ing with low bud­gets re­quires greater prob­lem solv­ing and there­fore greater creativ­ity.”- Ali Azarmi

As Manasvi Gos­alia, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer at De­javu, says, video pro­duc­tion may be hit­ting the TVC hard, but soon the tra­di­tional acro­nym ‘TVC’ will be a thing of the past any­way. “There will still be big bud­get stuff rolling out, but it will be pri­mar­ily fo­cused on dig­i­tal reach rather than just the TV mo­d­ule of the past,” he says.

For Gos­alia the out­look for the com­ing year is 25 smaller cam­paigns in­stead of one gi­ant pro­duc­tion.

“The cost is not the main fac­tor if the way to man­age and ex­e­cute is in our con­trol,” says Ali Azarmi, co-founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Joy Films and Street­wise Films. “Work­ing with low bud­gets re­quires greater prob­lem solv­ing and there­fore greater creativ­ity. The de­mand for low cost pro­duc­tions has al­ways been there but today we have many more tools and play­ers who can achieve the ob­jec­tives ef­fec­tively.

“These projects were sel­dom re­alised in the pre-dig­i­tal era, now they can be. So the stan­dards of the lower scale of film pro­duc­tion has been raised dras­ti­cally. This can only be a good thing for the in­dus­try. It means the high-end pro­duc­tions need to raise their game and be more cre­ative to jus­tify higher pro­duc­tion costs. What re­ally al­lows the guer­rilla-style film­mak­ers to achieve great re­sults eco­nom­i­cally is due to the trust the clients have in al­low­ing them to do what they see fit to re­alise the ob­jec­tive. So the re­fusal to adapt and em­brace change is the real killer.”

Blam­ing the al­leged demise of the TVC on video pro­duc­tion is also disin­gen­u­ous in light of new tech­nol­ogy and the chang­ing view­ing habits of au­di­ences.

“The death of the TVC has been trum­peted for years now and yet it still sur­vives,” says Shane Martin, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Boom­town Pro­duc­tions. “Multi­na­tion­als know that they can still de­pend on tra­di­tional TVCS to de­liver the ROI they need, hence why they are tak­ing money out of dig­i­tal and put­ting in back on TV screens.

“How­ever, the de­mand for low-cost video is killing qual­ity in pro­duc­tion in a gen­eral way. But at some point the mar­ket will fi­nally re­alise that of good, fast and cheap, they can only have two at any one time.”

Is there still room for the megapro­duc­tion com­mer­cial?

“It de­pends on the brand, the ob­jec­tive, the mo­ment,” replies Nassar. “The pro­duc­tion has to be led by the idea not the con­trary. A project like BMW Films, for ex­am­ple, flipped the nor­mal ad bud­get on its head, with most of the money go­ing into pro­duc­tion rather than paid me­dia. They cre­ated films of 8 to 10 min­utes’ du­ra­tion with mega-pro­duc­tions and they reached tens of mil­lions of organic views around the globe.

“Brands are be­com­ing con­tent providers, ad­ver­tis­ing is be­com­ing en­ter­tain­ment. So, our re­spon­si­bil­ity with orig­i­nal­ity, qual­ity and craft as cre­atives, pro­duc­ers and brand care­tak­ers is be­com­ing more and more crit­i­cal. Net­flix is proof that peo­ple want to be en­ter­tained with high qual­ity, orig­i­nal con­tent. I be­lieve that’s what ad­ver­tis­ing will look like in the years to come. Be­cause that’s how brands will stay close to peo­ple.”

There will still be big bud­get stuff rolling out, but it will be pri­mar­ily fo­cused on dig­i­tal reach. -Manasvi Gos­alia The death of the TVC has been trum­peted for years now and yet it still sur­vives.” -Shane Martin

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