Do you need an enormous film production budget to create the best possible content?
In a nutshell, no. We firmly believe that incredible content can be produced for brands with modest resources, as well as those with six-figure budgets at their disposal.
Of course, we’re still realists, and every advertising campaign needs enough funds to cover overheads. But when it comes to achieving great film production ROI, creativity will always trump cold hard cash.
Don’t believe us? We’ll show you the facts.
Big film production budgets don’t always mean big results
Many recent advertising campaigns cast huge celebrities, invest in extravagant sets and spend millions on airtime.
For instance, CBS sold 30-second commercial spots during the Super Bowl 2018 for $5.2 million a pop, with this price growing by at least $200,000 every year. Last year’s adverts featured the likes of Matt Damon, Cindy Crawford and Morgan Freeman, whose acting skills are unlikely to have come cheap. Last but not least, ambitious storyboards and plenty of special effects will have demanded big production teams and incurred further costs.
This can all be off-putting and downright intimidating to smaller brands with more modest budgets. However – there is another way in the world of film production. A recent study set out to prove once and for all if a bigger budget always makes for a better ad.
The conclusion? You don’t need to spend more on an ad to receive the best returns. In fact, the study found that the key to an effective ad is not production quality—it’s storytelling.
Putting film production ROI to the test
Video software platform Wistia decided to explore this theory, and commissioned LA agency Sandwich Video to take on film production for three commercials with three different budgets: $1,000, $10,000 and $100,000.
Each ad was around two minutes long and advertised Soapbox, Wistia’s video creation tool. All ads were made with online channels in mind, and shown across YouTube and Facebook.
On Facebook, carousel options and sequential ads actually allowed views to watch all three ads and make directly compare the different production levels.
Money is no match for creative film production
Interestingly, Wistia found that the $10K ad performed the best - in fact, it did twice as well as both the least- expensive and most-expensive ad. Why was this?
“Internally, we felt the $10K version had the strongest overall narrative and connection to the product, and our audience seemed to agree.”
Many viewers claimed the $100K ad seemed too polished and therefore inauthentic.
“We found that across the board, the ad shot on an iPhone performed just as well (if not better) as our video shot with a full Hollywood film crew.”
Small businesses that see film production campaigns as beyond their budget should take note - it doesn’t take as much money as you may think to make an effective ad.
Storytelling is key to film production ROI
On the other side of the coin, big businesses should note that throwing huge budgets at a film production campaign isn’t a guaranteed route to huge results.
“Big businesses should invest way more time and resource in telling the right story, rather than expecting production values to see them through.”
The big takeaway - brands, no matter what size, shouldn’t be led by film production budget. A great script and an emotional connection with viewers will do more for your product than a flashy set and great costume design.
“Small improvements in storytelling will have outsized returns compared to big improvements in production quality.”
Last summer, we partnered with Manchester agency Squad to make the most of Eurocamp’s advertising budget and succinctly promote the brand’s hugely varied offerings.
Our small but effective five-person production team used light-weight camera gear, ‘run-and-gun’ factual film techniques, and only shot in natural light to create an honest portrayal of real families at Eurocamp Parcs around Europe, capturing unscripted soundbites. Image and audio quality was then polished to make for a cinematic on-screen experience.
We crafted five emotionally-driven documentaries and two 30-second TV commercials which were far more playful and exciting in nature. Our production schedule even made room for shooting stills, producing more valuable assets for the client.
Let us help your brand tell its story
In the end, film production ROI comes from audiences engaging with your ad campaign. This is far more likely to happen when ads touch them personally, cause them to reflect and lead them to form a meaningful connection with your brand. We’re proud to say that our talented roster of directors can help you to achieve this.
And if you already have your perfect script in mind – great! Our expert production team can help you bring your vision to life in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.