Creative directors fight filming costs

Britain’s leading creative directors are throwing down the gauntlet to production houses with a challenge to justify the high costs of filming ads.

Britain’s leading creative directors are throwing down the gauntlet

to production houses with a challenge to justify the high costs of

filming ads.

Under mounting pressure from clients to curb charges, they intend to

press producers to disclose exactly how fees are calculated and who gets

them. In a confrontation that goes to the heart of how much a commercial

should cost, creative chiefs are insisting that suppliers match the

cost-cutting forced on agencies.

At a meeting of the Creative Directors Forum at the Institute of

Practitioners in Advertising on Monday, members pledged to press for

greater transparency from production companies.

In particular, they are demanding that production companies justify the

huge differences in fees charged for making commercials compared with

those for pop promos and feature films.

’It’s not a witch hunt,’ Tim Delaney, the forum’s chairman,


’But these issues have to be dealt with. Creative directors have to

accept some culpability because they are ignorant of how the system


The calls for greater accountability have been fuelled by alarming

reports of extravagance during the making of ads, including one story of

a director who is alleged to have had his personal chef flown to a


There is also growing unease that little if any of the bulk discounts

for equipment hire negotiated by production houses are shared with


However, production companies claim they are now much more accountable,

particularly because of cost controllers brought in by agencies.

’The majority of agencies get good value for money,’ Nick

Sutherland-Dodd, the executive producer at Arden Sutherland-Dodd, said.

’Pop promos are generally cheaper because they use younger directors and

the majority of people working on them are not properly paid.’

Peter Harrison, BFCS’s managing director and Ogilvy and Mather’s former

head of TV, said: ’All we mark up now is 25 per cent. In the old days it

was more like 40 per cent. Everything is itemised - you can’t hide a


In a concerted move against costs, creative directors are also targeting

headhunters whose margins are said to have soared while agency

profitability has slumped.

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