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Understanding the needs and nuances of the creative production vision is essential to getting the right director or photographer on your production project at the right cost
Data from APR’s data and benchmarking tool, ACERO, indicates that competitive bidding typically achieves 11-20% more in estimate negotiation savings.
Understanding the needs and nuances of the creative production vision is essential to getting the right director or photographer on your production project at the right cost.
On November 29, APR experts Jillian Gibbs, Alan Sadler, and Amanda Cadell, and Geoff Hall of Marketing Procurement iQ presented a one-hour training on the ever-important Bidding Phase of creative production, and this article shares some of their insights and how to design your process to successfully support your marketing organization.
The Bidding Process: An Overview
The bidding process is one part of a six-part creative production process. While the Bidding Process – or RFP/SOW Process in purchasing vernacular – may only look like a small part of the production process, it is a crucial phase, and the one that may involve Marketing Procurement.
Courtesy of The Marketer’s Guide to Creative Production, ©2023
The Pre-Bid Meeting: Recognized by APR’s production consulting experts as the most important meeting in the production process, this is the time to align all stakeholders on project details, such as scripts, storyboards, rationale for supplier selection, talent, shoot location, production budget, and other related things, before approaching potential bidders.
Says Jillian Gibbs in her new book, The Marketer’s Guide to Creative Production, “Bidding too soon can result in a poorly defined scope, leading to re-bidding, adding more time to the schedule, the potential for unforeseen overages, and suppliers dropping out of the pitch due to schedule conflicts. So, you don’t want to start the bidding process before you’re ready.”
RFP/Bid Package: With your blessing, your external agency or your in-house agency (IHA) will send out three identical bid packages. To best communicate the detailed specifications to stakeholders, and ultimately to RFP bidders, APR suggests using standard documentation.
Further, we’ve found that marketer-controlled templates allow for better standardization and adherence, rather than relying on agency derived forms that may change every time the marketer changes agencies or brands. This way you can be confident that the directors or photographers will be bidding apples-to-apples. The more thorough the specs, the less time you’ll need for bidding, as well as ensuring fewer overages and better change management.
While there may be occasions where it makes sense to single-bid a project, APR recommends competitive bidding as a best practice. In fact, data from APR’s data and benchmarking tool, ACERO, indicates that competitive bidding typically achieves 11-20% more in estimate negotiation savings.
Determine whether or not you will share the budget – a practice that can vary from one company to another. It is APR’s recommendation is to hold back 10-20% of your budget as contingency to accommodate changes and cost overages, should they occur. Holding a contingency puts the control back in the marketer’s hands.
Global Considerations in Procurement
Before continuing through the Bidding Process, it’s important to take a moment to consider the potential complications of shooting offshore. Since many projects are shot outside the Client’s base of activity, there are regional nuances to be aware of and understand.
There are different standardized bid forms used around the world: the AICP is the standard in the US for production, the AICE for Post; in the UK there’s the IPA/APA form; English-speaking and French-speaking Canada have their own, and so on. It’s important to learn the distinctions and ensure that they align with the marketer’s bidding guidelines (if they exist), or local industry standards.
Each country also has their own standards and practices, whether negotiated with national trade organizations or governmental rules.
For example, what would be called “mark up” in the US & UK, is split equally between “overhead” and “mark up” in France. Directors’ fees in France are also marked up, whereas in the UK & US they are not. Similarly, insurance should not be marked up and can be included in unexpected places (as in South Africa, where it is added on at 8% of the equipment costs).
It takes time to become familiar with the local nuances but is essential if you are to review bids effectively. No one can be an expert in all, but APR’s breadth of advisors, and our deep collection of global data allows us to efficiently and effectively review proposals and bids from around the globe.
Review of Supplier Responses: After a few days the production companies begin to submit their bid packages back to the agency, which will include a detailed bid, schedule, and treatment. The Director’s Treatment is his/her creative point of view, shared in words & images, indicating how they intend to bring your scripts to life. A lot of time goes into creating these, so your agency should give you at least 24 hours to read and re-read each treatment, because it’s really a “creative contract” of sorts.
Negotiations & Recommendations: With all the bid packages in, it’s a good idea to review your production partner’s overall costs to compare them. Some marketers insist on awarding the lowest bid, whereas others will choose the production partner based on their creative approach regardless of the cost. The production bid, along with all the other vendor costs, get rolled up into a formal agency Estimate. This should be discussed on the Award Call, and all project costs should be included.
Getting to the Right Cost
You might be wondering how to determine the appropriate cost of your project? This is a delicate balance between three influencing factors: target budget, cost expertise, and competitive bids. Understanding these elements is critical for successful procurement of production resources.
Negotiations between the target budget and cost expertise, along with the information from competitive bids, can give procurement teams confidence that they are getting the best price for the project.
Award & Contracting: Approving the agency estimate is giving the agency the greenlight to award the job. As production activity commences and crew and subcontractors get booked, the marketer is committing to pay the approved amount for the agreed scope.
Like any awarded project, the commitment should be in the form of a contract. By agreeing to the contract, the marketer is committing to the schedule, director/photographer’s creative direction as in the treatment, deliverables, and delivery schedule. Any deviation after award will cost more money, and/or delay delivery. Before signing the estimate, it’s best practice to have a formal Award Meeting to fully understand what you are buying. It is also important to review and understand the policies for billing, postponement, cancellation, and weather days.
While there are many variables to consider when choosing a director or photographer, following these steps in the Bidding Process can help ensure that your project is completed on time, within your budget, and meets your Brand’s expectations and needs.
About the article Contributors:
Advertising Production Resources (APR) is a Woman-Owned & Women-Led content creation optimization consultancy that oversees over $1 Billion in annual production spend and agency fees for 70+ advertisers around the globe. With hands-on production experience in TV, Print, OOH, Digital Videos, Web, Mobile, Social, and Experiential, our 150+ team members around the world collaborate with advertisers and their creative resources to establish best practices & locate efficiencies in their content creation ecosystems. Through our integrated approach and world-class benchmarking – powered by ACERO™, the world’s largest proprietary database of production investment – we drive innovation, improve production acumen, and increase return on investment for all our clients.