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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : November December 2007
Nicol (above) says virals are influencing TVCs by freeing up what is seen as production value and craft: “The ‘just grab a camera and shoot it’ school. Which for the right product/advertiser can be great. The biggest problem we have now is for clients and agencies to get it right - to work our what a viral is - and to stop trying to make virals that are really TVCs budgeted down.” of 20 million as does a US show for an audience of over 200 million. “I think you need either a brand with an already established image that just needs reinforcement, such as James Bond and Aston Martin, or a very particular niche brand. The Wild Turkey Poker Show was a great example - very low budget, absolute niche audience. The audi- ence could actually use the product as they watched the show,” says Nichol. While he hasn’t seen branded entertainment taking off in Australia, Cudlipp has heard rumours of lots of projects ‘in development’: “The flaw in the business model seems to be that everyone expects all the costs to be carried by the ‘brand’. And the broadcasters certainly don’t seem to know where they put their wallets when it comes to paying a realistic amount for this stuff. Maybe because so much money is going to pundits with good suits running conferences about ‘branded con- tent’,” says Cudlipp. Peter Grasse, general manager of Curious Films is exploring the branded content space through Curious Content, and has signed with Joost to do a TV channel which it picked up via Bikini Bandits, a franchise owned by Grasse and his brother. The decade old franchise features a couple of gun-toting chicks who drive around in a hot rod robbing convenience N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 7 stores, kidnapping the clerks and killing them with the junk food sold in the stores. The girls drink a lot of Sailor Jerry Rum, which became a sponsor of the show and an offshoot called GMart was created which was the evil corporation the girls were fighting against (which sold product). It has helped them learn about digital broadcasting and branded content. “You can do a lot of edgier stuff on the web and the stuff that does well there is a little bit dirty or a lit- tle bit profane or you’ve got some cuts you can put on the web that you can’t do other places but it is essentially still a TV idea,” says Grasse. “Shooting short films around your brand is great, but what drives me crazy is that when anyone talks about a branded movie series that always talk about BMW Films so why wouldn’t you just go work with Anonymous? They creat- ed that genre.” He gives the example of a recent project for a soda brand with a $100,000 budget to make five short films. Anonymous agreed to take it on with the proviso they had com- plete creative control to write and direct the whole thing but the agency didn’t want to hand over control, so Anonymous pulled out. “If you really want to do that great creative stuff let go a bit, give it to the directors to do, or be like The Glue Society and do everything yourself,” says Grasse who thinks Moore (above) says the lines between online and TVCs has shifted faster than he expected, but Australia is still miles behind. “The US and English agencies seem to be handling it very well, whereas here I don’t think any agency is taking the lead except maybe BWM, but there’s not a lot of other agencies pushing that agenda here in Australia.” most of the digital work will origi- nate from the agencies who have specialist interactive divisions and the film companies should stick to doing great little films, ie, TV com- mercials. RISING AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR/ MORE INTERNATIONAL WORK Another part of its business is Curious Collective, the service part where it works with specific direc- tors from the top international pro- duction companies such as Anonymous Content, Bob Industries, Blink and Untitled to bring hot foreign directors to Australia to work on specific jobs. “People want to shoot in Australia, the dollar has made it very difficult but they overcome the odds because it’s a great place to come. A lot of the times we sell New Zealand because it’s cheaper and the rules aren’t as strict but people still want to shoot here,” says Grasse. Samway says Prodigy consolidated its office in New York to hedge against the Australian dollar rising with the intention that if the Americans don’t come to Australia, they will go straight to the source. “It’s not for the feint-hearted; just the due diligence of starting a com- pany in the state of New York is massive. It’s a long way from home and we’ve had people over there who have done some long hard days. But we are getting there, these are long term plans, we’ve planted the seeds over there and are starting to build great contacts internation- ally and those contacts have strengthened our standing in New York,” he says. Exit Films’ Karen Sproul predicts the rising Australian dollar will have a large impact on foreign produc- tions coming to shoot here: “The attraction to shooting in Australia, apart from specific locations that might be required, is our depth of highly professional personnel, and high quality talent. But our produc- tion costs and talent costs are already high in comparison with other alternative destinations such as New Zealand, South America, South Africa and Eastern Europe, and the high dollar will make them appear even higher,” she says. Sproul suggests two things that would help Australia attract more product work, including 10-hour days for the crew, which would make them more competitive with New Zealand at least. And second- ly if the cost of extras were lower, we would attract more big budget, high quality commercials to shoot here. Toia says US work being shot here is grinding to a very fast halt with many projects that he has been quoting on drying up overnight: “We are known as ‘Mexicans with mobiles’ by the Yanks, they love that they can come here, treat us like second class citizens, pay C A M P A I G N B R I E F ( 39
AWARD Awards 2007
September October 2007