Tim Delaney, the chairman of the Creative Directors Forum, will be
reading this. So will Cecilia Garnett, the chairman of the Advertising
Film and Videotape Producers Association. But that’s as close as they’ll
get following their spectacular tiff at the Groucho Club (Campaign, last
Garnett invited Delaney and Andrew Cracknell to an AFVPA meeting to have
a one-to-one over the spiralling costs of filming ads. And, as a result
of Delaney’s comments in Campaign (we called him after tip-offs from
some of the 100-odd AFVPA members present), Garnett says Delaney broke
an agreement to fight it out in private and has halted discussions
Clients must be wondering what the hell is going on. Delaney questions
the system that has formed the basis of commercials production for 30
years. He says deals are struck after a fixed-bid estimate is agreed by
production company and agency - so the real cost of producing a
commercial is known only by the production company. Accusation follows
accusation and now the two sides aren’t talking.
If I was a high-spending client worried about costs, I’d copy Procter
and Gamble. Given the paucity of really experienced agency producers out
there - as Delaney readily admitted last week - its strategy seems to
make sense. I’d strike volume deals with chosen production and
facilities houses across Europe. I might even shoot ads on videotape,
which, compared with film, is nice and cheap.
(It goes without saying that none of the top directors would want to
play this game, but I’d be driven by cost-cutting, not quality.)
Most clients’ interest in the economics of commercials production
doesn’t go much beyond why the BBC can make an hour of Rhodes for as
much as it costs to make a 30-second car commercial shot by a big-name
Which is why some people reckon this dispute is going to fade gently
into inertia and advertising folklore - that clients, agencies and
production companies will muddle on as before.
I’m not so sure. The former print union, Slade, thought so in the 70s
when Frank Lowe scuppered its plans to co-opt creative departments into
membership. After Slade succeeded in blacking creative work from Collett
Dickenson Pearce, Lowe behaved like a grown-up, started discussions with
the union and is credited with helping to end the dispute.
The AFVPA and the forum should take note: there is no point in putting
commercials production - and by implication anyone connected with it -
in the dock, unless the two sides keep their toys in the pram and
conduct a mature discussion of these vital issues.
Stefano Hatfield is back from holiday, but Caroline Marshall asked