Saturday, March 17, 2012

Advertising and Marketing on a Budget

I'm not an advertising guru or marketing person but being a film and commercials director I have a very good understanding of people's emotional responses to what they see and one thing I know for certain is that buying decisions are mostly emotional with that exception of a product that bases it's sales exclusively on price point (and even that in a sense can be thought of as having an underlying emotional reason - the avoidance of suffering through financial savvy).

Recently a new client approached me to quote on doing a promo video and the concept they had (which came from another production company they had spoken to) was along the lines of an infomercial - the hows and why of the service they provided and a bunch of testimonials from their past happy customers. Ok. "Well if you really want to give off that kind of brand impression we could do that", I said cheekily but I then asked if they would entertain the possibility of doing something a little more creative and emotive and so off I went to come up with a concept. More on that later....

One of my friends who runs his own advertising agency recently told me that TV advertising is still the most effective form of advertising and I would argue that video is the medium that is capable of producing the greatest emotional drive of all media. The how's and why's only come afterwards - if I see an iPhone ad I want it first and then ask questions later. I want to be the guy in the commercial who looks cool and suave and that identity is more easily creating with moving pictures accompanied with a soundtrack than any other form of media. Of course today's online media levels the playing field somewhat and allows for smaller businesses to actually get some emotionally driven content out there so we are seeing small to medium businesses doing a lot of promo videos.

So I wrote a rather lengthy and boring 2-part article about coming up with a strong creative and emotive concept and constraining that production to a particularly tight budget which is possible with recent technological advancements and by getting the right creative people involved. You can read that over here if you have the patience: link

The upshot is that I presented the most magnificent concept to the client. We had a personality walking through a colourful marketplace discussing key business concepts to the viewer while surrounded by stalls of exotic merchants and a carnival with fire breathers and all sorts of beautiful imagery and narrative. I even had a high-speed slow-mo shot of an archer firing off an arrow to get a key concept across. Of course I knew they didn't have the budget for something that extravagant but I wanted to get the point across about investing money into strong emotional content. After that, I pulled out  a "low budget" version that embodied the same emotive drive but vastly scaled down (having used the techniques that I suggested in my long and boring article). The client loved the concept and now it was time to deliver.

And so this is what they got for less than the cost of a promo video:

The client is thrilled! Of course things could have be a lot better but considering the tight budget there was no budget for an art director - not even a DOP so I pretty much had to DOP and Direct (which I hate doing as it splits my ability do either of these in half). I also did all the post and even the audio post and I do believe that there are engineers and artists far more skilled than I am in those areas - that's why we specialize - but the point is to showcase what CAN be done on an extremely limited budget. All in all I think it's a damn decent emotive piece of advertising and I even had the client getting goose flesh and my wife in tears on their first viewings!


UPDATE: I've been given talent releases by the actors and have turned some of the shots used in the promo above into microstock which is available through

View on

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Check out my iStock portfolio as quite a few of the other shots are available as well.

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