This is a special repost of Trevor Curran’s (@TrevorCurran) article from his Facebook group, reprinted here with permission. It provides a lot of juicy advice about funding and working with brands, and is a nice complement to Brian Clark’s series on transmedia business models at Henry’s blog.
Ok so in short…I’ve been asked ‘show me the money’ – where do you get it? In Ireland and EU these are good starting points: the EU MEDIA Interactive Development Fund, Northern Ireland Screen Digital Content Development, Creative Industries Innovation Fund and Invest Northern Ireland. Enterprise Ireland, RTE Storyland, Local County Council Arts Offices and IFB schemes such as Virtual Cinema. These should be enough to keep you going for a while but obviously there is as always lots of competition for limited funding so make your concept good!
Historically speaking broadcasters in Ireland and the UK have no coherent commissioning digital strategy, this is changing but very slowly with RTE Storyland, RTE YPP, BBC NI Innovation Slot, Ch4 OD. The reasons why there has been a bit of a failure to adapt stem from it being a new area for content, history and internal politics of broadcasters has a part to play with early web content being simply part of publishing in RTEs case the RTE guide and Aertel, which gave rise to an early site which effectively republished content. Change is difficult for large scale broadcasters such as RTE but their RTE player is taking hold even if they still have no way of commissioning content for digital without running fowl of internal debates on who should be commissioning for the web right now its still ad hoc at best.
The unions SPI and SIPTU in Ireland bless their cotton socks still haven’t managed work out crew rates for web content after ten years negotiations, thankfully in the uk BECTU and PACT seem more proactive as do unions in Australia and America. But on a basic what you need to know is this the normal tv and film drama production model makes digital and web content not really possible so a much lower cost base required to make it viable that may change in time but right now this is where we are at. So Top Tip use technology where ever possible to reduce cost base and keep coming up with ideas to reduce your cost base such as getting actors to record voice over and pod casts on set in-between lighting set up, you need to be much more effective in your production days then the system is used for and you need to be filming much more pages to make the whole thing work!!!!
Ok so as I said traditional drama budget rules simply cannot apply, however the broadcasters as they can’t commission this stuff make you pay for new media elements of digital media components often this must come from your existing production budgets. So you have been warned in advance!
This brings us to control and maintenance, ownership of IP and International sales, generally if a broadcaster pays for it they own it unless you can prove extensive development before commissioning so do yourself a favour and shoot a mini pilot it will give you a much better leveraging position in negotiating IP ownership and position for international sales down the line. If a single brand is paying for it then the same rules apply generally whomever pays for it is likely to want a slice of the action is international sales and distribution revenues…the question is how big of slice of the pie do you get?? If multiple brands are involved that has the many many benefits it stops one trying to dictate narrative – at the end of the day these guys make ads not entertainment that’s you job and you should know how to do it better then them. It also means you are in a very strong position when it comes to international sales and distribution revenues Woop Woop!!! Ah that so rarely happens ☺
So how do you get brands involved – well get a great idea to start with and figure out your distribution plan so that you grab your target audiences attention preferably before launch. You’ll need a pilot eps, mock up website, series bible, extensive markting and launch plan. A sample package for sponsors would often include:
1. Full integration of the brand/product within the episode/series
2. Off-line cross media activities using the brand and the show
3. Competitions using the show and requiring users to go to the sponsor website
4. Photos of main cast and logo for using in off-line materials, point of sale etc
5. Link from Series Portal page to brand page
6. Provide ‘as seen on XXyour series hereXX’ logo
7. Advance screening onsite
8. On-line casting for publicity
9. Press release with regard to innovation of brand in sponsoring online show
10. Pre roll logo – ‘Brought to you by Brand X”
Producers generally speaking should keep an open mind and always have a few suggestions regarding how best to integrate brands within your series. Ok some quick states to get your juices flowing:
1. Product Placement in US Market is worth €2.65Bn in 2009 – most current figures available.
2. The largest use of placement is in Music Videos up 8% on last year – Britney Spears, Lady Gaga – the range of products include Sony Products to Miracle Whip salad Dressing.
3. Product Placement currently accounts for 5% of US Advertising Revenue.
4. There were 400,000 Instances of Product Placement on US Television in 2009.
5. Brandchannel.com estimates that ‘Apple’ items appeared in 30% of top US box office films last year in 2010.
6. Indeed the Matrix Trilogy had the distinction of having so much Product Placement the film was actually in profit before anyone actually saw it in the cinema!!
In 2007 EU instated the Audiovisual Media Services directive, which in theory allowed broadcasters to take payment for displaying commercial products. However each country had to determine their own rules this was in large part due to the large volume of US television that was viewed in Europe which has lots of PP for revenue it was infact putting local European producers at a disadvantage in competition terms.
Due to the impact of Digital Systems – ie Sky+ which allow audiences to skip ads this had a dramatic impact hitting broadcaster revenues, and with the advertising crash IRL spend down from 350m 2007 to 200m since 2011. Irish broadcasters were in effect competing with UK broadcasters who have been allowed use PP since 2009 – and it now accounts for £ 20m + out of local ad spend in the UK. The UK first PP – was on the ‘This Morning TV Show’ in late 2009 – with a Blender being placement in the set background for a fee of £100,000. Indeed to much fan fair RTE announced their first major PP deal last week as part of Fair City the shop will be branded as a ‘Spar’ Shop – in a deal estimated to be worth €900,000 for 9 months appearing 4 times per episode of Fair City!
OK those of you from Ireland please take note of the following: (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) BAI Product Placement has been given the go ahead from May 2nd of this year. There are conditions though its only allowed in Films, Sport, Drama and Light Entertainment. Its very much forbidden in News, Children’s TV, Chat Shows, or shows with more than 20% Current Affairs – ie Late Late Show. ‘PP’ – A Product Placement Logo must appear during the show and in the end credits listing the specific companies involved.
So what are the official views of the broadcasters well TV3 seemed mainly concerned with appealing to the BAI for a restriction on RTE PP levels, its debateable if that will ever actually happen. Both broadcasters are appealing the notion of having to inform audiences of PP at all via logo and credits. RTE argue that audiences already accept the concept of PP and given the amount of US it is prevalent in they have a valid argument. Setanta Sports on the other hand don’t see it as a viable source of income for them indeed they are not even sure its worth administrative inconvenience of including as a potential revenue model them is viewed as too small.
Ok people now go forth and make stuff!!