Any piece of content for a brand means little if it never manages to connect with its target audience, a statement to ponder in this new interview series from Comcast Technology Solutions and Little Black Book.
Over the course of this series, we’ll be speaking to some of advertising’s most respected production leaders to delve into how emerging themes in production, such as data-fuelled production, more lo-fi shooting technology, remote filming, and evolving feelings towards the value of production all feed into creating content that matters to customers and works for brands.
Up first is Jeff Beverly, global director of content at Commonwealth//McCann. In his role, Jeff oversees all global production disciplines on the agency’s Chevrolet account, which is run out of Detroit, the home of General Motors.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with him.
LBB> Jeff, in your opinion, what kind of role does production play in making a narrative / idea connect with its audience?
Jeff> We need to understand how the audience is digesting our content and speak in the most authentic way. It might be traditional production, or it might be a very lo-fi approach. We need to bring the right tools and approaches for that authenticity, even if that means an iPhone instead of a RED camera.
LBB> How is that role evolving in the age of evermore fragmented media?
Jeff> We have spent a lifetime striving for perfection. Pushing for the highest quality. Relentlessly finessing film and audio and performance into a hyper sterile state. Equally important now is the ability to be versatile and evolve the approach so that when lo-fi authenticity is needed it is approached with the same passion, but with a different mindset and toolset.
LBB> In that constantly shifting media environment, how would you articulate the value of production to a brand?
Jeff> Production used to be downstream and once creative was sold it was handed to production to be executed. Today production holds the responsibility of driving approaches that are efficient and sensible, and creating work streams that deliver strong creative, while satisfying the ever-expanding list of deliverables. As mentioned above, the deliverables can have different fidelity needs, so production is front and centre in creating the overall approach.
LBB> From your point of view, what’s the key to crafting content that really connects with people?
Jeff> One size does not fit all, so each brand idea should get individual attention. Social should not only be cutdowns of TV, but should have its own creative variations appropriate to the platforms.
LBB> To what extent can data be leveraged to improve production and the impact of the content?
Jeff> We create a lot of assets, and we strive to avoid waste, so data is important in tracking re-use of assets. This also determines what we want to create more of, and less of.
LBB> Do you have any examples of how Commonwealth's production departments are using data to better connect with audiences?
Jeff> In addition to assets, we use data to track DE&I and sustainability efforts on productions. The benefits of tracking, measuring and improving leads to better creative, which leads to better audience connections.
LBB> More generally, can you share an example of a recent project that required the production department to solve a particularly tricky or interesting problem(s)? How did production step up to find and execute the solution in that instance?
Jeff> My answer is less about a particular production, and more about our ongoing exploration with our clients to re-think the way we bid, shoot and deliver. I’m as proud of a minor bidding procedure optimisation as any large-scale production job solve.
LBB> If the perfect CV lands on your desk for a producer, what does it have on it and why?
Jeff> I’m a fan of versatility. I don’t just look for automotive experience. If someone has shot music videos, dabbles in Unreal programming, produces a podcast and has properly managed budgets I’m definitely interested. Unfortunately, CVs don’t give you the passion and spirit of a candidate so the interview is always the fun part.