Just as producers have for many years done table reads and organized “punch-up” sessions for scripts before filming begins – and in more recent times, have done the same for plotting out franchise properties like Transformers, Avatar, and the extended Stars Wars universe - this same creative brainstorming service can be offered to Corporate America for their advertising and marketing campaigns.
The sessions can be molded and scalable to the needs of the project and client in question, with every curated group (5 to 9 participants, optimally) potentially including anybody from sitcom writers to action specialists to the most cutting-edge video and indie-film directors.
This service can be offered either 1) directly to the client, 2) as a discreet In-House Consultancy to a marketing firm or advertising agency, or 3) as a Premium Option for the Client via those same traditional channels, with the possibility of a pod deal with one specific firm, or as case-by-case contracting.
Potential scenarios where the consultation of these panels might prove most beneficial would be at key inflection points such as 1) the launching of a new service or product line, 2) entry to a new market, 3) making adjustments to a current campaign that isn't hitting its intended target, and/or 4) complete pivots in the company's overall advertising strategy.
In the current marketplace, with entertainment and information-gathering options at an all-time high and people’s attention spans at an all-time low, all companies are struggling with how to attract people’s attention. To be memorable. To have their messages stick.
A strong brand name, a memorable tagline, a catchy jingle. That used to be enough. No more. Consumers have become jaded. The on-the-nose tropes that used to work like a charm (tired housewife, picky kid, etc.) now earn derision. TV viewers sense the commercial break coming and change the channel before the first ad can even start to run. Even once-sly “product placements” have become transparent.
People know when they’re being played. To have any chance for success, a campaign has to be elevated across the board, in terms of tone, style, and penetration strategy. For maximum effectiveness, one must always be conscious of what the target consumer is currently responding to, while always staying ahead of the curve.
This is perhaps best demonstrated in the ever-changing landscape of interactive and social media platforms. What is effective one day – whether that be viral YouTube clips, Twitter endorsements, Instagram, Snapchat, AR/VR, or even on-the-ground guerilla campaigns waged by the likes of Banksy, JR, and Shepard Fairey – can be quickly rendered as passé the next.
These are issues Hollywood storytellers have always had to deal with. Not just in terms of what genres are in vogue and which shows succeed or fail, but in terms of how to sell their ideas on the page to the reader, in the room with the executives and above-the-line talent that build momentum toward a greenlight, and on-screen for the viewer. The stages of “selling” on a feature film project, which now often comes with a cost in the tens of millions, can last for years. And for TV shows, there is the challenge of holding onto viewers over the course of multiple seasons, even after the format and its dynamics grow tired and familiar.
With so much competition every step of the way, the line between success and failure often comes down to a knack for timing (reading the zeitgeist) and an eye for detail. We storytellers spend untold hours finding the perfect name and set of traits for our characters, the ideal setting, color scheme, and theme music for our scenes, and crafting that key piece of dialogue to not just hit the mark, but sing, becoming buzzy word-of-mouth sales tools that lead to more fans and viewers.
Elevator pitches, log lines, synopses, treatments, look books, sizzle reels, show bibles. Like marketing professionals, we are constantly thinking of how to sell our stories in words and images. And like marketers, we have to tailor that message, and its length, to the situation at hand.
Here is where the potential for a mutually winning opportunity lies. For better or worse, the business of Hollywood is a slow one. Whether it’s during the pitching stage, the contract stage, the rewrite and development stage, or waiting for the stars to align for a production start, much of even the most successful cinematic storyteller’s time is spent waiting for decisions to be made and others to do their job. On top of all of that, most Hollywood creative talents these days are freelance – exclusive studio deals are largely becoming a thing of the past.
That is why table reads and “punch-ups” can attract such high levels of talent. As creative freelancers who commonly have pockets of availability between larger projects, it is a way to flex our creative muscles in a fresh, fast, and mutually rewarding way, and to do so in a collaborative team atmosphere.
This same principle can be easily applied to marketing. Storytellers love a new challenge, even moreso if they can feed off ideas and insights of like-minded artists in the same room. While taking absolutely nothing away from the stellar corps of creative marketing minds working throughout this industry, Hollywood storytellers and imagemakers have been taught and trained to think on macro and micro levels that can easily translate to a different perspective, a different approach, that could help take the marketing and branding campaign in question to a higher level.
Our diverse and growing roster includes writers and directors with credits ranging from The Simpsons to the James Bond films. Other team credits include: True Detective, Taken, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jarhead, Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, Around the World in 80 Days, The Ghost Whisperer, PIcket Fences, School of Rock, Scooby Doo, The Scorpion King, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Drop Dead Diva, My Dog Skip, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Saved!, Ladder 49, Frasier, Mr. 3000, Mystery, Alaska, Franklin & Bash, Fantastic Voyage, Tuck Everlasting, The Waterhorse, Cheaper By The Dozen, and Are We There Yet?
Additionally, our team members have previous experience crafting marketing campaigns for clients as diverse as BMW, FedEx, Walt Disney, Taco Bell, Barry's Bootcamp, FanDuel, and even a chain of Chinese amusement parks.
Practicalities & Logistics:
For reasons of economy and ease, the sessions would typically be held here in Los Angeles. A conference room could be booked either at the client’s hotel of choice, or perhaps on a studio lot.
The client would determine the size of the panel, and provide general guidelines for the experience range of the participants. There would be a pre-negotiated fee for the session, with all participants sharing the fee on a favored nations basis.
Ideally, the client would provide the team with materials and a general framework for the discussion at least one week in advance, for purposes of familiarization. However, more specific elements and options could be presented “cold” during the session.
The client could have as many people in attendance as they wish, with a minimum of one brand/agency director and one assistant or junior-level executive to take notes and record.
A group dinner, post-panel, can also be arranged, as well as a follow-up session via Skype, the timing of which can be planned according to the client’s needs.
In addition, subsequent sessions could be arranged for set or flexible future interims - say, every quarter or half-term - to review, in person or via teleconference, the success of the previous work, make adjustments, and/or plot out next steps. These follow-up sessions could include the previous participants, an entirely fresh panel, or any combination thereof.
If interested, we at Bullseye Media Partners would welcome the opportunity to explore all the possibilities with you.
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