What Do I Get For My Branded Content Budget?
Pricing branded content is much like the old adage ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Although knowing that we’re talking about a strong and well known brand that needs to be producing content that is fitting for the business positioning and values, and congruent with the customer expectations about a leading brand, here are a few examples with price tags.
Most producers wont share the budgets of the specific jobs they’ve worked on (neither they should), so what I’ll do is take a professional estimate based on what I see on screen. The value that you see on the screen doesn’t always reflect what the production actually cost to get made when you take into account multiple versions, experimentation, expertise and status of the people involved, the time frame they had to deliver it and how much of the client’s process affected the cost of the job.
My belief is that there is a production solution for every budget however, so make sure you discuss your project with an experienced producer who is open to solving your problems – without bias as to the potential providers or suppliers. For the sake of being simple I’m picking out a number of solutions and focusing on these today knowing that there are many ways to ‘skin the cat’ so to speak. For now this is a good starting guide all the same.
So as not to breach confidentiality of any of my own projects I am picking work randomly of YouTube for this exercise. Apologies to anyone involved if I’m off the mark with what was really spent on each one – this is about what it looks like was spent in my experience or what would typically be in that budget range. All of these spots have been chosen because I think the parties involved did a pretty good job for the budget range.
Yes, you can produce some content without a budget. This is happening more and more, but be prepared to accept what comes. You may not have control over the end result and it comes with a degree of risk – above all else the execution needs to fit authentically with the execution, as it does in this simple video. Nothing that a webcam and iMovie can’t do for you with a bit of time.
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$5,000 to $20,000
You’re likely to get edit only based content or to have a simple doco style shoot with a one or two man/woman crew.
An edit-based solution could have some simple motion graphics and editing. One of the best commercials I’ve ever seen was executed back in the 1980’s for New Zealand Telecom. The ad was simply one graphic of the text 99c. The concept was around how long you could speak for 99c with the voice over guy filling in the 60 seconds of screen time by changing the artwork colours, adding some psychedelic graphics, he added music, and it was obvious he was struggling to make the 60 seconds entertaining highlighting just how much time the phone company offered for little cost – and it was just plain funny. The ad probably cost only a few thousand, but it was so strategically right on and completely engaging. So it can be done!
A doco style, editorial content could be filmed and edited together in this price range, but remember that this is about capturing the action as it is and rarely is it with any story in mind and unlikely with professional talent. There’s a time and a place for this style of content but be wary to rely on it solely or use these costs as an indication of costs across all productions.
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This spot for iiNet is great – although the animation is more complex and depending on suppliers the prices can vary and shoot past this budget range. Choosing well this could be produced under $20K. You’d need to be careful that demands on being exact aren’t too high here to keep to this budget.
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Another possible option at the higher end of this budget range is a simple studio shoot filled with a presenter who is fairly unknown or provided free. You wont get a lot of set construction but if you can keep the props and set to a simple layout you should be able to produce something close to the $20,000 mark. I’ve chosen another iinet as I think they do retail very well with the focus on the character and performance rather than on the production elements.
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$30,000 to $60,000
At this range you are likely to get a slightly more complex set of production elements than the base level ones. The graphics may start to get a bit more complex (taking more time, hence more expensive) and the sets may get a little more complex, perhaps even some extra people in the scene. It could also include a doco style simple 1 camera shoot on location capturing a scene or story that exists without having to set it up especially for the shoot and with strict criteria around the styling.
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$100,000 to $120,000
Typically for this budget you will get a 1 day shoot with some decent talent (not too many!), some simple set design or locations, a full but lean film crew, a good editor and a polished master and soundtrack. Alternatively a couple of days filming with a small documentary style crew and a few decent talent.
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This TVC for Yarra Trams is a stylised job, cleverly produced with a one stop shop service to help keep this to a lower budget. A few years back if you had visual effects involved it couldn’t be done this affordably. Photo-real animals are still quite complex and whilst this one is excellent the look is stylised for this budget.
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Now we’re getting into the territory of highly controlled productions where the talent performance, the cinematography, the demands on the direction are all world class. The product may be difficult to film, there may be a story requiring many locations, some stunts, a lot of deliverables – there are many factors shifting the production costs into this budget range. Needless to say with a bit more budget some awesome work can be produced – this is one of my all time favourites for Coca Cola called “Ride”.
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Animals and stunts add a degree of complexity that affect the costs. Filming cars adds to the costs due to the rigging of the camera, street closure and simply the scale of the product and the demands on the product to look amazing when they are very reflective.
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$1 million plus
Television series Iconoclasts is one of my favourites working well across platforms. The production is a simple exercise and the talent as the big draw card and no doubt cost. As much as the branding is discreet, it is still branded.
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Rumour has it that this production hit the $1 million mark. A great job that won heaps of awards and was talked about, at least in the trade.
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This is an ‘oldie but a goodie’, with Nicole Kidman for Coco Channel. I loved this spot when it first came out and it was reputed to be the most expensive television commercial of all time.
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Brad Pitt is no doubt going to make a production more expensive even if the production values are very simply done.
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