Anette Euffemio, Brew Productions
There are always those commercials: the ones that people quote for years after it stops airing, the kind that makes the rounds on social media, those short clips that impress a brand into the hearts of consumers.
A crucial player in making those commercials come to life is the production house. Anette Euffemio of Brew Productions opened Brand Academy Day Four to offer guidance and insight in this hectic and painstaking process that asserts a brand’s presence in its consumers’ lives.
Three entities come together to create a commercial: the brand, the creative agency, and the production house. The brand has its business objectives and marketing strategy planned out, usually for the year. The agency brings create executions to the marketing strategy, and when it comes to commercials, production houses join the process.
To simplify this entire process, Euffemio broke it down into nine steps:
1. Campaign — The brand and the advertising agency create the campaign brief. This can be part of a bigger campaign, like a series of commercials for the year, a short one-off commercial, or anything in between. Based on the brand’s objectives, the agency develops a storyboard or script. In turn, this gives the brand and the agency an idea for the budget and the timetable for the project. All this and many other factors go into the bid specification sheet.
2. Bid — The project goes up for bidding among several production houses. Production houses quote their rates based on the brief, which includes a cost breakdown from pre-production to post-production. Directors also submit their treatments and visual pegs, taking their cues from the brief. Each bidding production house quotes a rate for each item on the bid specification sheet.
3. Awarding — Both brand and agency award the project to the production house that comes closest to the estimated budget.
4. Briefing — At this point, the production house has its first meeting with the agency, where they are briefed on the advertising concept, objectives, expectations, and mandatories.
5. Preparation — The director’s team and production management get together to create the storyboard and treatment. They also discuss options for production: pitch set designs, scout locations, and canvass studios. Casting may also come up if the production house includes this in their services.
6. Feasibility — Here, the production house director presents his treatment to the creative agency. They also go through details of production design, casting, timetable, and audio. This may take one or two meetings, depending on how many changes are needed to the director’s treatment and other production details. The objective here is for both production house and creative agency to come to an agreement on the deliverables and timetable.
7. Pre-production — The production house meets the client for the first time, where they present the treatment and production details agreed upon with the creative agency. When all three bodies finalize their production details and settle their agreements, the process moves on to shoot.
8. Production — With the locations and studio finalized, the production design approved, and agreements with client and agency locked down, the production house is ready for the shoot. Actors may also need a talent workshop in some cases.
9. Post-production — Last comes the stage for another set of people and skills: video editing, grading or color correction, 2D and 3D graphics, digitizing, and special effects. Often, there’s also sound, voice dubbing, and music included.
The Fine Print
Production also involves technical requirements on the day of the shoot. The production crew and equipment: cameramen, technical directors, grips, drivers, caretakers, electricians and a few others. Equipment means mostly camera, lighting, and grip equipment.
Production design can cover a wide range of possibilities. Standard choices involve constructing sets or scouting locations, props, and wardrobe. There are also special requirements depending on the brand. Pediatricians and baby handlers go with baby and mother brands, and the costs go up if the shoot calls forcelebrity pediatricians. Food styling teams are needed for food shoots; trained animals, animal handlers, and groomers for pet brands; and more recently, underwater photography, cars and stunt drivers, and stunt personnel, depending on what advertisers need.
There are the more basic requirements: hair and makeup stylists and fashion stylists—and there are also celebrity stylists with higher rates. Naturally, there’s catering, transportation, utilities, and groceries.
All these items are discussed at the various stages and are agreed upon before production starts. Having this many factors to consider means something could happen that could derail production, so the brand, the agency, and the production house need to be clear on the campaign objectives so these can be met even if some elements change.
Yvette Papasin, Nestlé Philippines
There were free Kit Kats for all Brand Academy participants; a wave of excitement swept through the group when this was announced.
This was how Yvette Papasin opened her presentation on brand activation. This way, she demonstrated how it is intended to work.
Connecting with Consumers
Brand activation creates and strengthens as brand’s connection with consumers, by tapping into what they feel, think, and experience. Ads still do this, but Papasin said that consumers need to experience brands now, and that brands should meet consumers where they are. She also emphasized that most importantly, brand activations need to serve a purpose beyond a return on investment and sales uplift. They need to act on insight based on consumers’ feelings, thoughts, and motives and to give them a positive experience that they will associate with the brand.
Ideally, brand activation guides consumers into the consumer engagement funnel. This starts with awareness—the percentage of consumers who know the brand. Ads usually do this job by announcing that this kind of product exists.
Then it moves to consideration, when they begin to think of buying the brand. At this point, activation efforts need to grab the consumers’ attention and make them curious. This can be done through sampling and brand ambassadors.
From there, they move to trial by buying it once. If sampling is effective enough—the product may prove itself useful and relevant to consumers’ needs—consumers may decide to give a product a shot.
Should the brand work for them the first time, consumer move to repurchase and buy the product more than once.
Lastly comes loyalty, when they purchase the brand regularly within a given time frame. To get to this point, a brand needs to establish itself as necessary in its consumers’ lives, usually through long-term brand activation.
Brand activation has two core measures: penetration—how many consumers a brand can reach—and frequency—how often the brand wants the consumers to use their products. This is achieved through three main levers: events, sampling, and consumer promotions. Papasin gave examples of how Nestlé does all three.
Events: Bear Brand Laki sa Gatas
“What is your role in your child’s life?” This is the underlying question behind Bear Brand Powdered Milk Drink’s program, Laki sa Gatas.
Bear Brand is a product designed for the CDE market and is positioned as something that will give schoolchildren a leg up in their studies. The brand does this by addressing micronutrient deficiency and the mothers’ role in their children’s lives.
The result is a nutrition education program designed to strengthen generations of Filipino families with affordable, delicious, and resistance-building beverage solutions.
This covers just Laki sa Gatas, which stretched from 2006 to 2014, establishing micronutrient deficiency and the role of milk in fighting it. A follow-up program, Laki sa Tibay, ran from 2015 to 2016, strengthening Bear Brand’s role as the solution.
The events covered a wide variety of activities, the result of Papasin sitting in elementary classrooms and observing the children in their element. In Papasin’s words, it was more important to “share the experience, not the brand.”
The ten-year program reached around four million children, 2.7 million mothers, 170,000 teachers, and 14,000 schools.
For events, Nestlés key success factors are each event has to be relevant, memorable and engaging, beneficial, shareable, and safe and secure.
Sampling: Milo Enerjam
Because many schools had no physical education, the students had little physical activity outside of free play. In 2005, Milo proposed dancing as part of the flag ceremony using dance moves that mimicked sports moved—led by a Milo brand ambassador, of course.
This is only one of the activities at Milo Enerjam, partly an event and partly a sampling activity, with free Milo served to participants.
They key success factors for Milo Enerjam are the sensorial experience it provides, the drama and mystique of the activity, and as always, safety and security while maintaining the product’s quality.
Consumer Promotion: Nido and Virtual Reality
To appeal to Nido’s more upmarket demographic, the brand supported a school-readiness campaign while promoting upsizing. The mechanics were simple: consumers buy a 1.6-kilogram pack of Nido Fortigrow and get a free pair of virtual reality cardboard goggles with a VR content link.
What resulted was a tie-up with Discovery Licensing that offered an item that was attractive, collectible, and had a high perceived value. It also leveraged on digital trends by moving from offline to online and was relevant to the brand’s premium and to the consumer.
Consumer promotion needs to create a trial period to generate demand, and for a set period of time, it must ensure an increase in the average rate of purchase.
Whether events, samping, or promotions, Papasin said that the branded experience has to be consistent in its execution, intentional, differentiated, and valuable. Most importantly, branded experience must be anchored on a purpose beyond return on investment—a purpose that gives the consumer a positive experience that drives sales.
Clarence Lim, Procter & Gamble
“Put her at the heart of what you do and win her heart.” With this rule of thumb, Clarence Lim focuses her efforts on consumers and on giving them a shopping experience that seamlessly blends with their routines and their motives.
Who is she?
What is on her mind?
What is she going through?
When do her habits change?
Why is she shopping in this store?
These are the questions Lim asks when developing shopping promos or product displays for Procter & Gamble’s personal care and cleansing category.
Often, what’s needed is a product display that catches the shoppers’ attention and gets their interest hooked. These can be seen in the Head & Shoulders iceberg display, which suggested the shampoo’s minty cool sensation.
Meanwhile, she introduced the Pantene Smooth line by displaying it on shelves from top to bottom, in effect creating a wall of gold that stands out from the hair care products in the groceries.
Easy for her to Understand
Lim also emphasizes the need to simplify the shopping experience for consumers. Sometimes, this means helping them with the costing math. For Joy Dishwashing Liquid, the product claim is that it cleans three times more than ordinary dishwashing liquids. The display thus came with the claim stated 3X in bold letters and three bottles of ordinary liquid equalling one bottle of Joy.
Something similar goes for Head & Shoulders: each shampoo variant came with a tag of up to how much each shopper can save with each purchase.
Adapt to her Season
People who do their own laundry deal with having to dry clothes during the damp rainy season. Ariel has a rainy season campaign that addresses just this but focusing on the product claims that it can get rid of kulobstains. During the summer, the focus shifts on its deep-cleaning effect that keeps cotton smelling fresh even when the wearer sweats.
For Pantene’s summer display, the tagline was “Hair stronger than the sun.” The same goes for Head & Shoulders’ iceberg display, offering a hit of coolness during the summer heat.
Reach her when she’s Receptive
To push Vicks Babyrub, Lim’s strategy placed the product in smaller display racks alongside the shelves selling Pampers. Mothers buying diapers are also more likely to need Vicks. The same strategy applies to over-the-counter cold medicines—Vicks is likewise sold near these products. The strategy sells complementary products side by side right when customers are more likely to need them.
Touch her where she Shops
It also helps to offer products in conjunction with the grocery chains. Puregold Perks had a tie-up with Downy. For every purchase of six other participating products, Puregold Perks members were given free Downy Antibac.
Other strategies also appeal to shoppers’ altruism. The Vicks Touch of Care fund gains contributions with every purchase of Vicks Babyrub 50g, combining consumers’ need for the product with their need to give back to society.
Market Research 101
Lou-Ann Navalta, AC Nielsen
In 1985, Coca-cola decided to introduce the New Coke. The company had invested in blind taste tests to develop a sweeter-tasting beverage that consumers would prefer. The company expected to regain its market share over Pepsi’s. Instead, consumers were outraged at the New Coke, and their market share tanked.
In the annals of marketing history, the New Coke is a case for asking the right questions. Here, the company asked “What taste do the consumers prefer?” It turned out, the better question to ask was “How do our customers feel about our brand?” Introducing the New Coke was a kind of betrayal, when something familiar and reliable changed overnight.
Lou-Ann Navalta said that this is what market research does: it helps companies ask the right questions to aid in strategy building and decision making. Navalta showed how market research can aid marketing, with case studies to illustrate the application.
Market Scoping or Needs Identification
Often, market research helps answer the question, “How do we position our brand?”
In the early 2000s, C-2 entered a Philippine market that viewed tea as a beverage for the sedentary and the old, as market research revealed. In response, C2 was positioned as a healthier alternative to softdrinks for the young adult segment, and the brand has performed fairly well ever since.
Unsurprisingly, “What do we call our brand?” is a question that market research asks and answers often.
In 2001, Honda had achieved considerable success marketing its compact car, the Honda Fit, in Asian markets. The car manufacturer sought to expand into European markets and sell the Fit as the Honda Fitta.
However, fitta in Swedish translates to female genitalia. With research helped develop a brand name for European markets, which was also the brand sold in the Philippines: the Honda Jazz.
Marketing and Advertising
There are also cases where campaigns take a wrong turn because they did not look more closely at their markets, usually to cut costs.
In 2017, Pepsi launched a campaign created by its internal creative studio, featuring Kendall Jenner at a protest rally resembling the ones for Black Lives Matter. People were outraged at the appropriation—it seemed that Pepsi downplayed the gravity of the protests, which were ongoing at the time. In a few days, Pepsi pulled the plug on the ad and publicly apologized.
The lesson here is that brands are advised to do market testing on their ad campaigns, especially if the message is potentially controversial or sensitive.
With the right questions, market research helps brands keep their finger on the pulse of public sentiment. In turn, this helps craft more compelling messages for marketing and advertising.
“How can an online seller help customers try clothes on?” Zalora faced this major barrier to its online selling platform.
The solution seems inspired by a recent millennial-hipster trend: a pop-up store. Zalora set up a traditional retail showroom in a major shopping mall, which let shoppers browse for items and try them on.
They kept the online shopping experience, too: the store included self-serve checkout counters on laptops, and the shoppers’ purchases were delivered to their homes.
Market Research Defined
In Navalta’s words, market research is the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, a product or service that exists or to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present, and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location, and needs of your business's target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.
Market research helps measure performance compared to a brand’s category and consumers, reduce risks in developing and executing strategies, and to spot opportunities in the present and the future. Most importantly, market research helps guide brands in asking the right questions so their products and services can best serve their consumers.