At the moment I've been working on the next lot of 'aldi commercials'. You may have seen them... The most famous being;
"My husband likes this tea... And he also likes this tea... But I don't drink tea... I drink gin"
This advert won ad of the year last year. And why? It's simple, it's short and it's normal people with a quirky edge. And that's it! And the budget was absolutely tiny! So it made me ask the question... Are these huge budgets we hear of completely necessary, or just habit?
The older generation of the industry often talk about 'the wonder years'. The days when there were tons of adverts with ridiculous budgets floating around for everyone to get their hands on. When entire crews could stay in a hotel somewhere exotic for 5 days and shoot for 8 hours before having an fabulous night.... Every night... on the Job budget, before shooting the next day and doing it all over again. When they had equipment coming out of their ears and more security and runners then they could call on.
These days every penny counts.. And I admit, I do agree that even now, i see plenty of money thrown down the drain, so in those days... The same era as 'band aid' and 'live aid', when Bob geldoff was shouting at audiences and when poorer parts of the world were being brought to light, the money they spent must have been absolutely extortionate...
These days it is much more modest. Aldi being a perfect example. However. Is it that production companies have big budgets like this because they think they need to... Or because they have to show they think they need to?
When I was at Uni, and the 5d came out, the quality of the image, far surpassed any other digital cameras we had at the time, (or at least matched it) especially when it came to cost. But when quizzing a tutor on why he didn't use one for his corporate films, the response was that when a client pays money, they want to see what looks like money well spent. No matter what the outcome... If the shoot looks like it was professional, chances are, they'll be happy. And I would agree with him! Turn up on a tiny little 5d, rather than a huge big jvc110 with mount and all accessories attached, youre going to look inferior to someone who hasnt done their research.
So this makes me think. Are production companies, and possibly even agencies, all spending lots and lots of money, for the show? And the illusion of what they are getting? Using 40 foot cranes when a tiny walle dolly could have done?
This brings me back to aldi. When we shoot this Thursday and Friday, it will be myself, my producer, director, dop, sound guy, runner and art department, and that will be it. Shot on a modest 7d, with basic lights, grip equipment and tripod. Yet it will do well and people will most likely enjoy it. And it will get the point across perfectly. So do we need the huge budgets?
I think the aldi ads are brill... One of my faves being this little one we did a few months back:
However. If all tv adverts took this angle, and started budgeting, would it all just be the same, and would audiences ever focus on any of it? Aldi works because it's different... And some of my fave ads have had pretty big budgets, one of the biggest being this hovis ad from a few yrs back:
If something can be told In a simple way... Perfect. But occasionally, just like basic human needs, we all need to splash out and treat ourselves, and in advertising we have to get those treats too. The hovis ads and the John Lewis adverts, the heinikens and the euro 2012 ads that are popping up everywhere... We need to indulge a little bit and have a feast of all senses... And in those annoying little 30 or 40 seconders that appear and interrupt the match or the movie, it's nice to have a mixture of simple little wonders and massive indulgences....
Variety Is the spice of life after all!