The Eternal Production Company Dilemma: Just How Do You Get Agencies to Engage With Your Work?
I often wonder, as I send an email to a producer, an ECD, a creative team, how many emails has that person received that day requesting a moment of their time. Am I sitting in an electronic queue, peeling my ticket from the counter whilst fifteen, twenty perhaps four thousand other production companies wait their turn?
This is why, when you have that opportunity to go in and show your company’s work, the work that your director sweated over, the work you sweated over to bring in, it is imperative that the time is well spent.
InSkin Media’s recent research struck a chord. They had been investigating what sort of content is gets eyeballs, and what makes an ad more or less likely to be viewed. It resonated with me for this reason; when I go into agencies, do I show the work that we all really like? The work that people will be impressed by? Or do we show the work that is more abundant? The episodic campaign we produced that made a few quid and looks nice? Well, nice enough…
How about the animated Vines that look brilliant but, in all probability will not result in a high budget campaign? On the other hand, they could very well be spot on for an upcoming brief from a new client.
I recently showed some work to an ECD who was fantastic. He asked question after question and was completely engaged. This isn’t always the case. But on this occasion, what was most pertinent to me was how he loved the hero work, but wanted to see more of the work that was - for want of a better word - mundane.
No drone shots. No surfers. No big crew or five day shoots in glamorous locations. Definitely no clowns. “You can do that, and it’s great,” he said, “but what about the work which I get by the bucket load?”
So whilst InSkin talks about ‘viewability metrics’ (whether something has been seen and if the audience has paid attention), I wonder if, when I show these 10 – 12 commercials, I’m really getting the full attention of the group. If we’re choosing the spots based on what the director likes best or those that best represent the work we want to shoot, does that really keep the creative directors engaged?
The likely answer is partially. I know what I am like when I’m sitting in front of a screen as a number of content pieces play out in front of me. My attention dips and rises. I do, in fairness, have the attention span of a three-year-old who has taken to injecting fizzy Haribo as eating them has lost its edge.
InSkin talks about ‘ad clutter’. They mention that three ads on a page incurs a 37% decrease in ‘gaze time’. This further highlights another challenge; is it better to show three spots, talk about them in a little more depth than I would had I shown ten spots and let the work speak for itself?
Ultimately there is no right answer, as each scenario is unique. If you want viewing engagement then the trick is to research who you are meeting, (not that that’s much of a trick). Fail to prepare, prepare to be a chump. Or something like that.
Do you want to be the director’s cut of Apocalypse Now? An additional 49 minutes of film that failed to enhance the original release? Or would you prefer to be 153 minutes of near perfection?