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