From the brief to the screen (Part 1)

27 February 2019
By : Felipe Restrepo

The Exciting Process of Producing a Commercial

Thirty seconds isn’t a significant amount of time, especially when talking about TV time. Sometimes those 30 seconds aren’t even noticeable to the audience, because people don’t watch TV for the commercials. That’s why finding the right way to impact and generate attention is so crucial when brainstorming, creating, and producing a spot. Those 30 seconds of time are critical for the client’s business and their agency’s reputation. That’s why every second, word, and scene we decide to feature in a commercial has to be effective.

In the advertising world, the entire process of creation and production for a campaign consisting of usually three, 30-second commercials can account for more than 2,000 hours of work from merely one individual at an agency. Yes, you read that right. Over 2,000 hours of one single person working looks something like this: exhausting days, long nights, countless cups of coffee, meeting presentations, discussions, decisions, many phone calls, sketches, story boards, meetings with the client, among many other steps unbeknownst to the casual TV viewer.

So, how can something that short require so much labor? Well, that’s the crux of this topic. Since the commercials go so fast, every second created must be on-point and carefully crafted to get the message across in a concise, yet highly effective manner. So, let’s take a look at the important steps involved when creating a “short,” 30-second commercial.

30 seconds of time are critical for the client’s business and their agency’s reputation

Everything begins with a brief,

which is a clear outline of information discussed between the client and the agency. It’s written so everyone at the agency can understand the business needs, purpose of communication, objectives, target audience, characteristics of the featured product(s), and campaign timelines. Those are just a few things highlighted in a brief, among many others, before the first creative neuron is even activated.

Now, the agency digests the information provided so the process can begin. Research and Strategic Planning teams begin working hard to define a complete creative brief that includes consumer insights, a description of the brand personality, creative thought starters, and many other mandatory elements for the brand. Ultimately, all of the pieces come together to spark those creative neurons and inspire agency creatives to find the different approaches required to face the challenge head-on.

creatives stuying a brief for creating a tv commercial in Pm3 Agency

Once the creative team begins, they undergo long sessions of brainstorming, filtering, internal criticism, presentations, and in-house approvals. It’s not an easy process because every person around the idea -the participants and the spectators- have an opinion. After reaching 10-15 more creative options in line with the brief, the agency has to whittle their list down to roughly three. That will give the client a range of options to choose from that are all centered around the previously defined business objective.

Having the ability to “sell” these ideas internally is, at times, more challenging than gaining the actual client’s approval. It’s common knowledge in the advertising industry that the most difficult clients for creatives aren’t even the clients, but instead, the agency’s internal teams.
 As a creative head, this is one of the most exciting moments, because this is when you are able to discover who leads with the ‘trendsetter’ mindset or the ‘safe’ mindset team. The key is to not get distracted by comments that aren’t aligned with the strategy or business objective that was approved earlier by the client. Because at the end of the day, creative is subjective and the range of solutions for the same problem can be as immense as the universe surrounding us.

Everyone inside the agency now loves the ideas? Great!

actress of making of hispanic tv commercial pm3 agency
story board hispanic tv commercial pm3 agency

Now it’s time to write the final scripts for these three different approaches, touch up the taglines, create the mood boards and storyboards, adjust the presentation, put together some references for the client, set the meetings, and then face the nerve-racking day of getting the initial approvals. In regard to initial approvals, there’s usually a tiered hierarchy of people to sign-off on ideas in many typical client structures. This can be quite the challenge since we need to align all different levels and subjectivity under one idea… but for the most part, it’s usually a fun time.

If everything stays on track with the strategy and we perfectly follow the creative brief guidelines, the new challenge comes in the form of presenting the idea, or “selling it,” to the client. In a perfect world, this would be a piece-of-cake, but that’s not always the case. Since creative is very subjective, ideas can go back and forth until the client’s team unanimously agrees on it and the agency feels it’s the best approach.

Once everything is approved, the idea/concept is tested many times in front of small groups of consumers, just to verify the message is clear, effective, and accomplishes the desired objective. Once that process is done, the results are received and the twists in the ideas are implemented and approved. The second big step of the process has just begun, which means its production time! The fun’s not over yet, so join us next week for Part-2!


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