How to Produce a TV Ad — Part 2

The creative team assigned to writing your TV spot will come back to you with a few (or many) ideas, depending on the team. I once had a team that presented me and the client with 62 different scripts for a campaign. And all 62 were good scripts. That’s more than a bit extreme. Somewhere between 2 and 5 different scripts is more normal.

What will usually happen is the creative team has an internal meeting with you (the account team) and presents their scripts, often with some preamble about the concepts and what they went through to arrive at them. They may even complain about how your brief wasn’t very good (this is very common) and that despite that, they went in another direction and managed to find some good ideas anyway. You will of course listen patiently and bite your tongue.

Once they read you the scripts, if you love some of them, then as a whole group you’ll start to plan how you’ll present to the client. If not, then you’ll argue, deliberate, debate, and hopefully brainstorm. And then you give them a specified period of time for them to come up with alternate ideas. And the process begins again.

After that, assuming they deliver scripts that you feel are good enough to present to the client, you will:

–   Schedule and deliver the client presentation – which may include inspirational references to movie scenes or other campaigns, and even an entire powerpoint presentation about the strategy that led to these script ideas

–   Gather client feedback and likely deliver a second or third presentation. Producing video spots is expensive, so clients need to love the ideas.

–   Subsequently develop and present story boards (sketches that begin to visualize each scene of the script) to the client

–   Reach out to various production companies to give you bids for producing the spot.

–   Choose the production company, in consultation with the client

–   Scout locations and conduct pre-production meetings to plan the shoot

–   Shoot the spot, with the client present on set

–   Go into post production

–   Present the rough cut of the spot to the client and get feedback

–   Present a fine cut (more finished spot) to the client and get feedback

–   Go into sound mixing and final post production

–   Present the finished spot for final approval and send to TV stations or upload to internet

I need to point out that the above is a simplified view of the process. (For example, I haven’t included the process of getting budget estimates approved by the client, or developing a media plan that recommends exactly which TV stations or other media the spot will be aired in.) It can much more complicated than this with big campaigns and shoots. All hell can break loose, ruining your timelines. Clients can give major feedback, meaning you have to go back to the drawing board. Basically, it’s a bloody miracle that any spot gets done at all.

So, the next time you dismiss or mock a TV or cinema ad, I hope you pause for a split second and appreciate what it took to make it and get it on air. And if it’s a spot that delights or moves you, then you can rest assured that the people behind the spot — are nearly superheroes.