The making of a television ad, Part 4: Production

In last week’s installment, we saw how creative ideas are tested and adjusted to optimize their effectiveness. This week we’ll look at the final stage: the shooting, editing, and other work that happens before the ad goes to air.

Shooting an ad is both exciting and tedious. It’s the culmination of months of work, but much of the time is spent setting up, rehearsing, and making sure everything is just right.

In order to bring our script to life, we first needed to find the right Director for the job. Our team at Union Creative looked at over 50 Directors before recommending one – Brian Billow – to the REALTORS® on CREA’s National Ad Campaign Committee. Brian’s humour, storytelling, and use of talent made him an ideal fit for the project. (See some of Brian’s other work here.)

Every script has details that people interpret different ways. It’s crucial for everyone involved to agree on as many details as possible before the Director calls “Action!” Well before shooting, our creative team worked with Brian’s team on casting, locations, props, wardrobe, etc., getting REALTOR® input at every step.

One key to the success of last year’s campaign, “RAID,” was that it captured viewers’ attention because it looked like a movie trailer or TV show, not an ad. That’s why we hired Cinematographer, Dion Beebe (who shot “Chicago,” “Miami Vice,” and won an Oscar in 2006 for “Memoirs of a Geisha”), to help us achieve a cinematic feel again with “MOTEL.”

Because the ads needed to be produced in early January for airing in March and included outdoor scenes, the shoot took place somewhere with reliably good weather: Los Angeles. You may be relieved to learn that the creepy motel featured in our ad does not actually exist and was fabricated in the middle of the desert for our shoot.

After shooting wrapped, it was time for post-production. An editor assembled the footage, colours were adjusted, and computer magic did things like adding the perfect flicker to the “MOTEL” sign. Then, sounds and the voiceover were added. Union and our post-production partners got a final round of feedback from REALTORS® and CREA. Finally, the commercial was ready to distribute to TV stations, movie theatres, and for REALTORS® to share online.

The final critical step was making sure the ad will be seen with enough frequency and reach to be effective. A large, well-targeted media buy gives us the opportunity to actually influence consumers’ opinions and behaviour. We can’t just create an ad that tests well in focus groups; the months of care and craft would all be in vain if it goes unseen or unnoticed. Even though the ads are only 30 and 60 seconds long, months of research, thought, consideration, and REALTOR® input went into making them with the aim of demonstrating the importance of using a REALTOR® by showing what could happen without one. Do you think we achieved our goal? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Subtej Nijjar is one of the founding partners of Union Creative, the advertising agency behind CREA’s recent national ad campaigns. Subtej (known as Sub) has over 14 years of strategic and digital planning experience working on global brands like IBM, Microsoft, IKEA, Unilever, Best Buy, Under Armour, and Domino’s, as well as Canadian clients in industries ranging from consumer packaged goods to not-for-profits. In 2005, Sub was named one of Marketing Magazine’s "Ones to Watch." While he was flattered by the honour, as the father of three young children, he has his own ones to watch and considers them his greatest achievement.


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