Big, beautiful branding: is the high-end TVC a relic of the past?
IS THE HIGH-END TVC A RELIC OF THE PAST?
Has digital made the TVC a thing of the past? Jonathan Cotton takes a look at the value in beautiful high-end productions.
Ask any industry know-it-all and they’ll tell you: In 2018 marketing is all about activating brands online. With benefits like pinpoint audience targeting, utterly transparent reporting and real Mccoy ROIS, digital is where it’s at and the big, beautiful brand-building productions of yesterday are well and truly becoming a thing of the past.
But is that actually the case? Have marketers really turned their backs on the big budget mainstream campaigns of old? Is there still a place in the market for the cinematic TVC? And are brands still willing to play the long-game of identity building?
It’s not quite that simple
Going by the stats, one could argue that the death of big, glamorous brandbuilding content has been somewhat exaggerated.
According to Standard Media Index, agencies spent a billion dollars on major media across New Zealand last year, and leading the way in that lot was Tv—stubbornly holding out against the digital onslaught - with a not insignificant $389.6 million overall haul.
That’s not to say digital is insignificant in the scheme of things of course: to the contrary, digital advertising is hot on the heels of TV, at $338.9 million for 2017 - more than seven percent growth on 2016. (Outdoor is still the outlier, at $136.3 million, but up, nevertheless, a whopping 18.4 percent in 2017).
Simply put, TV still reigns, but only just, and the chaotic figures indicate an industry well and truly in a state of disruption.
That’s a fact not lost on the industry itself. Pwc’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2017 – 2021 asked entertainment and media CEOS about such issues: According to the report, 56 percent said they are expecting technology to “reshape the industry” over the next five years.
So let’s call it as we see it: Kiwi advertising dollars will continue to shift online. PWC says as much, predicting that online advertising will grow to $1.4 billion in 2021, overtaking TV as soon as next year.
“What is worrying traditional media is that advertiser spending on the digital side flows disproportionately to a few large platforms like Facebook and Google,” says Greg Doone, PWC director of digital strategy.
The reason for the shift? Those pesky millennials.
“The influence of millennials and younger generations on the consumption of digital media is being widely felt,” says Doone. “They seek free media, to stream music, watch videos on Youtube and consume free news. And as they become the dominant demographic, these habits look set to stay with them.”
“The trends and consumer behaviour we see unfolding in New Zealand are largely in line with global trends, with a slight lag.”
If that global trend is anything to go by, the writing is on the wall. Globally, internet advertising already generates more revenue than TV advertising.
“That lead, thanks to the rapid growth of mobile ad revenues in particular, is set to increase significantly in the next five years,” says PWC.
So that’s the stats. The TVC is dead and we have killed it.
But wait, there’s more
Sure, those stats don’t look good for the long-term survival of the TVC, but there’s a world of difference between numbers on the page and the experience of the boots on the ground. In fact some in the industry say that higher end branding content may, in fact, actually be enjoying something of a renaissance.
“Digital has not killed it dead,” says Declan Cahill, owner and executive producer of Exit Films.
“The market still produces brand work and, in fact, arguably there is a little more now than there was a few years ago. It’s hard to quantify this, but it does feel as though brands are recognising that they still need to market to both an online and broadcast mainstream media audience.”
“But it’s fair to say that the battle to remain competitive has grown.”
There’s still something about the offline format that has prestige and motivates brand-builders to engage with those mediums. After all, each channel has its strengths and weaknesses and mainstream broadcast remains the best way to create and maintain a presence in mass audiences —targeting be damned.
“I see it as we're now in a kind of middle ground,” says Angela Bird, managing partner at The Workshop.
“The pendulum has indeed swung from big brand TV production through to online content and digital production, and I think we are now somewhere in the middle. Brands see the value in good TV production, as well as the necessity of being on digital channels.”
“Offline campaigns, and in particular, TV, drive reach,” says Patrick Mcateer, executive producer at Nimble Productions, “whereas a digital approach allows us to win with a ‘share’ audience.”
Case in point: Nike with ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ and Speights’ two-minute film ‘The Dance’, the latter created by DDB NZ.
“They both had amazing cut-through and showcase great entertaining films,” says Mcateer. “When they are on TV, they can only be consumed by whoever is watching it, but when they have a digital aspect too they can be easily ‘liked’ and ‘shared’.”
Fast, cheap and good. Pick two.
As the technical and cost barriers to film have fallen, new suppliers have hit the market, increasing competition and lowering margins. Few would argue that, in 2018, fast and cheap are no longer optional extras, even for high-end productions. Rather, that’s often where negotiations start from.
“It’s fair to say that is a trend, particularly with your bread-andbutter retail commercials,” says Steve Finnigan, managing partner and head of sound at Images & Sound.
“A few years ago when we were doing a lot more TV commercial work we’d be helping clients on the side with a ‘C’mon, it’s only for the web version.”