Introduction to TV advertising – Part Two: Creative Styles

Posted on October 11th, 2016 by · Filed under Video Production articles

Matthew Newman

In the previous post, we looked at the clearance process and the timescales involved in TV advert production. This time, we’ll look at the creative styles which can be employed to produce an effective TV advert – and we’ll look at which styles suit which types of product/service, from both aesthetic and budgetary angles.

Live Action

When the viewer needs to emotionally engage with the product or service we’re advertising, live action is often a must. Recognisably ‘typical’ places, people and conversations are best represented with well-acted, stylishly-filmed live action. Helping audiences of all ages to see ‘themselves’ on TV is often the powerful first step on the path to purchase.

Live action is good for:
* Giving viewers a ‘tour’ of a real place, or helping them imagine themselves at a destination
* Showing how products will look in the viewer’s hand, home, car etc.
* Using real customer testimonials – quite often there’s nothing more powerful then hearing from genuine, satisfied customers
* Explaining concepts or products directly to the audience through a presenter, particularly if the product or service offers either something new, or a new way to buy, e.g. our advert for Hippobag

Live action is in many ways only limited by available budget and creative ambition – we can’t control the former, but we promise to supply the latter! Younger audiences arguably prefer animated content, but even this depends on the product we’re advertising.

Live action concepts can be expensive (relative to other creative styles) and there are various factors which can quickly affect the required budget to produce an effective live action TV advert
* Use of a celebrity
* Number of on-camera performers required
* Number of locations required
* Number and complexity of shots required (including whether footage will need digital effects added in post-production)
* Location-filming vs. studio filming – filming indoors is always more controlled, but building sets is expensive. Filming outdoors and/or on location can result in better shots, but finding the perfect location can be expensive . The weather in the UK is always a key factor too, unfortunately – there’s a reason that sunny Hollywood became the film capital of the world! Many UK adverts for outdoor-use products are filmed outside of the UK in places like South Africa and Southern Europe, in order to guarantee sunshine during filming

2D Animation

2D animation is often a client’s most cost-effective route into TV advertising. This is primarily because it doesn’t require any filming, with its associated costs – crew, location, wardrobe, props, catering, etc. – and because voiceover artists tend to work to a more universal rate structure than actors, which means that the external costs are usually within a relatively low and easily-predictable range.

It also can be a faster process, as we can sometimes begin designing the advert in tandem with the script clearance process.

2D animation is very good for
* Advertisers with limited or ‘tester’ budgets
* Communicating a lot of product information quickly and memorably
* Explaining processes or services in an easily-understood manner
* Representing places & activities which would be cost-prohibitive to film 2D animation isn’t necessarily suitable for products where the viewer needs a realistic representation of how it will look or feel in their hand, home, car etc. A good example of this is our advert for Radfan. 2D animation interested the client, but we argued that customers needed to quickly get a realistic picture of what the product looks like, its dimensions, and how it actually looks when installed on top of radiators. The results speak for themselves.

Most of our 2D animated TV adverts are produced at similar budget levels, in part because they’re almost always 30 or 40 seconds in length and with animation, there is a strong correlation between the length of an advert and its cost.

Factors which can impact budgets include:
* The visual complexity of each scene – for example, this costs more to produce than this
* Number of characters and the design style they require
* Whether the characters need to speak, and if so how many voice artists would be required
* The type of music and sound effects required, and how complex the final sound mix might need to be
* Use of celebrity voices

CGI (3D) Animation

Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) takes the longest to produce, but the pay-off is in often striking visuals, being able to take the viewer ‘inside’ a product, or bringing an existing brand character to life. Many adverts blend live-action with CGI animated elements whilst others use CGI on its own, typically with the aim of impressing or even thrilling the viewer.

We have produced full-CGI adverts, and used CGI to augment live-action footage. See if you can spot the CGI enhancement in this ad…

CGI animation is very good for:
* Producing a real ‘wow factor’
* Positioning the client‘s brand as ‘higher-end’ – this advert for Frank’s the Flooring Store, for instance, drew praise from broadcasters and other industry professionals for standing out strongly amongst other local business advertising
* Showing people, places & activities which would be cost-prohibitive to film
* Appealing to younger viewers, depending on the style involved

CGI animation is limited when the concept relies on the audience engaging with ‘real’ people and/or genuine emotional responses – for example, something like this cancer charity’s appeal advert wouldn’t carry the same weight with animated characters.

Probably the biggest limiting factor for CGI animation is available budget. A realistic starting point for a CGI animation TV advert is £10,000 NET. As with 2D animation, this is then affected by:
* The visual complexity of each scene – for example, this costs more to produce than this
* Whether the concept requires ‘photo-real’ animation or can be more stylised
* Number of characters and the design style they require
* Whether the characters need to speak, and if so how many voice artists would be required
* The type of music and sound effects required, and how complex the final sound mix might need to be
* Use of celebrity voices

We produce TV adverts for clients big and small, for local, regional and national campaigns. We’ve worked in all of these creative styles, and even blended them at times The point is, we assess each advertiser’s brief on its own merits, and then recommend a creative style which we believe will get the best results.

We hope that the information presented in this and the previous post is not only easy to understand, but helpful to you, if you’re considering TV advertising. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have – we’ll be delighted to hear from you.