Creating a Quality TV Commercial – Part 2

– Posted in: Producing Film / Video Productions

Creating Strategy

This is blog post number two. To read post one, view the finished commercial as well as additional footage with commentary, check out Part -1.

Creating a strategy for the Blue Rock Energy television commercial meant I needed to get a better understanding of what they do and how they do it. Having done previous video work for them I had a general understanding, but needed to go deeper. For this to be a success I needed to understand what makes them and what they do unique.

Here’s some of what I needed to uncover:

  • What are they selling. (This is not as obvious as it would seem.)
  • Who are they selling to. (The market is determined by a need. Going to broad is a mistake.)
  • What is the action do they hope the viewer will take after watching the TV spot. (Is it realistic to think they’ll pick up the phone or go to the web right away?)
  • How does their prospect base see them and what they do? (The answer to this could provide insight into the biggest obstacle that needs to be overcome.) 
  • Who is their competition and what is their marketing message?
  • What is unique about what they have to offer?

I had a meeting with Wendy DeFazio, Director of Sales Communications and the key points I walked away with were:

  1. Due to some unscrupulous activity by some energy service companies “ESCOs” in general have a bad reputation.
  2. Their unique selling point is their energy consultant program.
  3. They’ve become the official energy supplier for the NFL, Buffalo Bills Football team.
  4. Every business can save utility costs by controlling demand peaks and adopting a staggered power up strategy.
  5. Their target market was small to mid size businesses in New York State and of these a fairly  large portion was restaurants.

BRE Meeting Notes

I ended the meeting by confirming the main points by which to guide this television ad. I had three days to prepare a pitch that would convince a team of Blue Rock Energy decision makers that I was the right person for the job, but I had new questions.

  • Should I try to guess the budget range they were thinking of or just tell them what I thought and why?
  • What factors would I use in determining this budget range “educated guess?
  • What would I pitch during this presentation, was I selling myself, my and past accomplishments, should I prepare a creative concept?

I decided to build my presentation approach on the belief that the BlueRock Energy team was going into uncharted territory, they had agreed to fairly large air-time budget and it needed to produce results. They needed a television commercial worthy of NFL play, but most of all I believed they wanted a trust worthy, experienced partner that would guide them through unknown hurdles while staying budget conscious.

Here’s the presentation structure I decided on.

  1. Review my broadcast background working as a commercial producer for local NBC affiliate. While this would not speak to the quality and creativity concerns, the fact that I’ve made hundreds of television advertisements would showcase my knowledge of the process.
  2. Show up with the physical awards I’d won for past projects. These would surround me and be a constant reminder of my creative achievements worthy of multiples awards.
  3. Highlight an impressive list of contractors I would be working with. This would ensure I would be pulling from the best creatives and craftsmen for  both strategy and execution.
  4. Design a series of thoughtful questions that would help me confirm my strategic approach or uncover new information that would change this approach and guide future steps.

BRE Meeting Notes

During step four I confirmed the strategic approach was correct. I also learned they had visited an unnamed ad agency and was disappointed by slick presentation absent of creative concepts. It’s typical for agencies not to pitch concepts until being hired, good concept work takes a lot of  time and is a large part of what an agency bills for. There’s also a danger in sharing a concept to soon before you have the job because a premature concept that doesn’t resonate with the client will weaken any credibility built to this point and could cost the job.

I was willing to go into dangerous territory on this one partly because I knew they had a very short time to pull off a concept worthy of NFL association. They’d already done the heavy lifting by creating the Buffalo Bills deal and I knew we needed to act right away. The production timeline I laid out had sobering effect and it was obvious to everyone that if we didn’t get moving fast the TV commercial would suffer. This gave me the confidence and leverage to move onto step five and pitch a creative concept.

In the next post I will share the concept as well what I said when one of the attendees said he didn’t want this commercial to be an expensive branding project. He also asked me what this commercial would do for them and how I would measure it’s success?

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