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How to create an effective TV advertising campaign on a budget

How to create an effective TV advertising campaign on a budget

By Tom George, Happy Hour Productions

Tom George, producer at Happy Hour Productions, one of the leading TV commercial and corporate film production companies in the South West and London, outlines his ‘Top Ten Tips to successfully creating an effective TV advertising campaign.

Whether you are making your first TV commercial, or looking for a new supplier to create a new campaign, you’ll want to achieve results in 2010 that boost sales and raise brand awareness.

Whilst every brand has different requirements, there are some things you should keep in mind in order to create an effective TV advertising campaign:

1. Put a concise brief together

The creative and execution of any commercial stems from knowing who you need to reach, and in what manner you wish your brand to be perceived. Clearly identify your target audience and the message your commercial needs to convey.

If you have conducted research or have focus group feedback, then evaluate and summarise your findings. You are the best person to review this information for the brief as you will know which pieces of information are relevant and which aren’t.

The production company will think about every aspect of the production design to ensure the ad reflects this brief. From the creative approach right through to the treatment in post production of the video and audio.

2. Keep the message simple

There is only so much you can impart to the viewer in a 20, 30 or 60 second slot. Avoid cramming too much into a short space of time. The most effective commercials have a hook, they set up a situation or problem and present a solution followed by a call to action. When evaluating the script, read it out loud, check it for timing, does it flow well over the duration of the commercial? Is there time for pause at the key messaging?

3. Make solid claims

All commercials in the UK need to be passed through Clearcast before they can air. The script and final commercial are both submitted. Every claim or benefit described in a commercial will need to be backed up, sometimes with supporting documentation, before it can be approved and go to air.

Channels won’t run a TV ad without Clearcast approval. So ensure the claims are valid and evidential before including in the brief. Many ads have gone to air that have contained watered down messaging due to last minute changes required by Clearcast.

4. Make the most of the production budget

You may have a more modest budget than usual for TV through 2010, so don’t be afraid to shop around. There are a multitude of talented production companies out there who don’t charge London prices.

Like for like budgeting has shown that the same commercial can be produced outside London for approximately two thirds of the price. Check the company’s show reel, but also ask to see previous ad’s in their entirety, preferably on DVD, so you can see the full definition quality for yourself.

Ensure it is an experienced company who deal with Clearcast and provide distribution to transmission. Agree a production fee based on the final script or concept; ensure it also covers the usage for actors, voice over and music for the duration of the campaign, or on a rolling basis if ongoing.

If you don’t need a cross media campaign from a full service advertising agency, consider approaching a production company directly. They may be interested in pitching for the work, and be able to provide a media buying partner for the campaign. You will be cutting out the additional cost of a middle man in the process.

5. Decide what you want to spend

The most common question is “how much for a TV commercial”? It really is a ‘how long is a piece of string” question! Decide what you are spending on media, and then proportion an amount for production.

Some people advise a new campaign should assume 10% of the TV media spend for production, but this figure can be entirely dependent on the scale and duration of the campaign. The creative can be geared towards your budget, but keep in mind where you are positioning yourself in the market, and the kind of brands you are in competition with. Budget doesn’t equal response. The creative and execution, combined with media placement, does.

6. Consider versioning

If you need a response driven ad, you should consider multiple versions of the commercial for tracking purposes. Understanding which channels are working for you can only improve the placement of the media spend. Factor in how you want to track your results.

For brand awareness versioning, you could consider keeping the creative fresh for longevity. It is much more cost effective to create multiple versions at the same time than recalling cast & crew for a second time.

7. Don’t set out to make an ad like your competitor

If I had a pound for every time I have heard “I want an ad just like this competitor of ours...” Don’t set out to make a copy of an ad just because it was successful for them. If someone else got there first, you will just look like an imitator.

Be brave and go with the novel idea that positions your brand in the market, and trust in that position. If you have been in business until now, there is a good reason why your customers keep coming back. Play on that strength and brief your production supplier to position you as such.

8. Be involved

The production team will no doubt value your input throughout production. You, or another representative, should try to be available for crucial sign off stages. If you can attend, be there at the pre production meeting, the shoot, and at the key stages of post production.

This can be vital to keeping the production on schedule, and thereby avoiding any additional workload and cost. A production process is like a production line. All who need to approve decision should do so before the next stage is started.

9. Positioning

Advertisers can sometimes focus too narrowly on positioning the ad to their best performing demographic. If your current marketing strategy is working on that demographic, you risk excluding the wider audience in favour of increasing market share among one faction.

With advertising revenues on the rise following recent relaxation of legislation, consider appealing to the wider demographic and make the most of each spot.

10. Honest Proposition

We are in an era of mistrust. We don’t have faith in the banks, we can’t trust the politicians, so advertising in this recession should aim to cut through and present an honest depiction of the proposition.

We don’t want the hard sell anymore; we want to feel like we are being told the truth. People have been responding better to ads that show some humility, or that take a tongue in cheek approach....Compare the Meerkat anyone?

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