So, What Should a Video Production Cost?

Pricing a video project is a lot like a middle school dance. The client is on one side of the gym fearful of revealing their budget. The production company is on the other side afraid of revealing their pricing. A whole lot of laminated gym floor and fruit punch goes to waste. So what's the hold up?

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What Can We Learn from This Year's Super Bowl Ads?

While it's been a few weeks since the Super Bowl and there are always countless articles and blogs posted soon after the big game, I still wanted to visit the topic and point out something that everyone seems to have missed.

I don't think there's a need to review each ad or pick the best or the worst. The reason? Everyone nearly universally agreed that this year's ads were the worst ever. The standout of the night was a pharmaceutical ad featuring an anthropomorphic set of bowels. I rest my case.

For all the many millions of dollars spent and hours of creative energy expended, no one came up with advertisements that did anything for anybody.

How did we get to this point?

Obviously, the ball got rolling when advertisers realized they had a massive captive and global audience during the big game. But how to get their attention? How to stand out and get people talking about brands?

Slowly but surely, the humor, the action, the featured celebrities, the risque-ness, and the spectacle were all pushed until everyone has finally lost focus on what they were supposed to be doing with their ad time: sell their product or service.

We are now at the point were brands and their advertising firms are making Super Bowl ads for the sake of making Super Bowl ads.

Super Bowl advertisers today are like children shouting 'Look at me! Look at me!' and when you look at them and say, 'Okay. I'm looking,' they suddenly have no clue what to do next. There was no plan other than to gain your attention. They've put all their effort in the spectacle and forgot about the actual advertising.

So, how do we fix this? And what can you learn to apply to your non-Super Bowl commercial efforts?

The Super Bowl ads, for a time, were many people's favorite part of the night. You went to get snacks or use the bathroom during the game. Before advertisers got caught up in making a Super Bowl ad for the sake of making a Super Bowl ad, they were still grounded to the classic advertising formula:

1). Define you target audiences problem.

2). Show how your product/service is the best solution.

Even in a content marketing driven digital age, when you strip it all down to the foundation, the foundation still has to be poured with the Problem/Solution model concrete.

Even as entertaining and as off the wall as some of the greatest Super Bowl ads ever have been, at their core, they still held true to this model. A few examples:

Pepsi

 
 

"You don't feel young? Drink Pepsi! It's the young people's drink! See, Ray Charles is drinking it and he's acting all young again and having fun. Even though he's old! See! Drink Pepsi and you'll feel young again!"

Apple

 
 

"PCs are authoritarian prisons that lock away your ability to solve problems creatively. We believe you should have the freedom and control over the computer not the other way around. Buy a Mac."

Monster.com

 
 

"You didn't dream as a kid to have a terrible job in a stifling office pushing paper and being unfulfilled and underpaid. Find the job you really want at Monster.com."

There are exceptions, of course, like the Budweiser Frogs, but that was part of a much larger campaign over many months and years to provide actual entertainment in hopes you'd reward them later with a purchase. Unless you're willing to really commit to doing something entertaining that stands on its own as a brand, stick to the Problem/Solution model. Which, by the way, you can still have lots of fun with if that's what you want to do. Just check out Allstate's Mayhem Campaign.

So, in summary, advertisers can fix the Super Bowl mess by returning to their roots and... well... advertise. And you can make sure that you keep your advertising on the right track by making sure your efforts always consider your target audience's problems and how your product or service is their best solution.

 

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

What is Branded Content?

Like so many things in marketing and advertising, Branded Content sounds vague but expensive. And it is and it can be, but what is it? Branded Content combines storytelling with advertising outside the bounds of a commercial or print ad. In other words, it's a mini-movie that features a brand, product, or service.

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Ads We Love: Badger Car Salesman

He may look cute and cuddly, but when you're not looking, "Poweee!" He just sold you a car!

 
 

From: Johnson Automotive Center | Ad Firm: The Martin Agency

Why They're Cool?

For starters, it's an animatronic badger in a cheap suit selling cars. They're also funny and edgy without crossing the line. And most importantly, these ads are for a local car dealer! 

Why We Love Them?

These ads have killer watchability. They're as sharp as they are funny. And we repeat: they're for a local car dealer! This campaign proves once and for all that local car ads can be so much more than a guy in a giant cowboy hat screaming numbers at you. 

What You Can Learn From Them?

Don't be afraid to tackle your industries negative stereotypes head on.What makes the humor, and more importantly, the message succeed is that almost everyone can relate to a bad experience they've had with a car dealer. Too often, advertisers are in such a rush to sell you their product or service, they forget to relate it to your problem or past experiences. Without that vital connection, you don't ask or have answered the key question anyone watching an ad asks: 'what's in it for me?' In this case, it's a car buying experience without being badgered.

The badger ads work because they emphatically signal to customers that Johnson Automotive Center truly understands the pain they experience when buying a car and the Johnson. 

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

Running the Numbers on Facebook & Video

Most business owners considering advertising only look at what it will cost them. They rarely consider what it would take to break even on an advertisement or campaign let alone consider the lifetime value of an advertisement. The reason?

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Oklahoma City Ad Club - Mayhem

Has there ever been a more loved bad guy than Mayhem?

 
 

You're in your car and need to change lanes. You think you're clear and you start to move over. The sound of crunching metal informs you that you're not. Cleverly concealed in your blind spot was a pickup truck. Mayhem strikes again.

Or your car is parked under a tree during a bad windstorm. Or there's too much snow piled on your roof. Or your cleaning lady falls down your stairs. As Allstate's brilliant ad campaign states, Mayhem is everywhere.

But how did an advertising campaign for an insurance company become an icon of pop culture?

I recently attended the Oklahoma City Ad Club's monthly luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center. Allstate Associate Marketing Manager Brooke Aslesen and Leo Burnett SVP/Account Director David Brot presented the Method Behind Mayhem. Together, they detailed the why and how behind Mayhem and how it helped to increase Allstate's brand recognition, market share, and bottom line.

Mayhem was a response to the massive campaigns started by Progressive and GEICO in the mid-2000s. How massive? In span of just four years, Progressive and GEICO together were outspending the entire insurance segment combined. Their ads were funny and aimed at a younger segment of the population who might be okay taking the risk of bargain insurance. Allstate and Leo Burnett decided they needed to counter without sacrificing the quality of the insurance they offer. They needed a way to communicate that in the long run, you could pay more by having shoddy insurance; that the real savings was buying from Allstate.

 
 

To get that message out, they had to fight for attention in a market filled with their competitor's ads. They needed something bold and edgy; something that illustrated the perils of cut-rate insurance in an entertaining and memorable way. And they needed to do so without shelling out the massive dollars their competitors were. So, they put out  a search through their creative networks to find a fresh take on the market.

I was surprised to learn that even a big advertising firm such as Leo Burnett would go deep into the freelance market for ideas. The genesis of Mayhem came from a small group of recently graduated BYU marketing students. It's a great lesson on keeping your eyes and ears open and not getting caught up in pedigree or experience. Great ideas can come from anywhere.

What makes the Mayhem concept a great idea? It's instantly relatable. By personifying the slip ups, mistakes, and accidents in life, the commercial connects with real life circumstances that either you or someone you know has experienced. But it's also intriguing. The moment Mayhem, actor Dean Winters, appears on screen and says "I'm a ______" we are hooked. We know something is not right with the situation and that something is about to go very wrong. The other shoe is about to drop but we don't know how it will end up. But we most definitely want to see that other shoe drop. And when it does, we laugh. And as we're laughing, Allstate is able to bring their message home:

This can happen to you and our insurance will protect you when it does.

This is Great Story Telling 101. It's why, when Mayhem flashes on screen, we get excited. We know that we are about to be entertained. And in the back of our minds, we carve out a space for Allstate as a company capable of delivering quality and value to us. And that's Marketing 101...

Not surprisingly, every aspect of the Mayhem campaign was painstakingly crafted until it was perfect. Casting took several weeks instead of the typical day or two. Ms. Aslesen pointed out almost every word in every spot is debated until the copy is right. Mayhem even has rules! He can't do things that, if a person did, would be regarded as malicious (such as an unaired ad where Mayhem is your angry-ex destroying your car).

 
 

And this brings us to another point. Allstate needed a game changer to compete in an advertising landscape radically shifted by their competitors. But they didn't panic. They didn't rush out with four different campaigns, throw them on television, and match Progressive and GEICO dollar for dollar. They carefully considered the target audience they wanted to reach and how best to communicate their message to them.

They communicated with clarity not volume. 

Effective story-telling takes time to craft. But when done right, you can cut through the wall of noise and delivery clarity and value to your target audience. They will appreciate you and your message because you will have delivered relatable material that they will value. And when it's time to make the purchasing decision, they'll think of you first.

Mayhem is a brilliant example of this. To date, Mayhem has 1.7 million Facebook likes and 56,600 followers on Twitter (since the end of September). A character from an insurance company is racing towards 2 million likes on Facebook and 100,000 followers on Twitter. Do you think it's because people love buying insurance? 

Not a chance. It's because people love great story-telling. Businesses who deploy great story-telling will reap the rewards Allstate has. Since Mayhem debuted, Allstate has seen increases in market share, brand recognition and engagement, and most importantly increased revenue.

How's that for a great story?

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.