Perspective: Both camps in the commercials row must keep talking

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 week).

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

week).



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

forthwith.



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

director.



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

nicely.



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