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October 2017
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    Hiring top talent and investing heavily in development have been key to growing his Bristol indie Plimsoll Productions, says founder Grant Mansfield
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Corporate 50 2016 Back to Reports & survey Listing

It’s a mixed picture for this year’s Corporate 50 survey. The demand for moving image is growing 
but budgets are not and competition most certainly is. Jon Creamer reports


So how was 2015? A bit of “mixed bag” is the phrase that comes up again and again from the respondents to the Televisual Corporate 50 survey.

Growing demand
“After a slow start to the year, clients seem to be spurred into action at the beginning of the new fiscal year – with respectable budgets and propositions to consider,” is Quite Frankly’s take on the last 12 months.

What many notice is that the desire for video content is still on the up. “Though we’ve seen many (but not all) clients experiencing cost challenges, their appetite for the moving image remains undiminished,” says Radley Yeldar. “I would say it only grows.” Somersault reports that “Video is still growing exponentially as more clients are seeing the value it can deliver.” Ark too finds that clients’ “marketing requirements frequently need video production where in previous years they haven’t been so assured.”

For Casual Films, a lot of clients are now hitting a “second wind” when it comes to moving image content after a previous false start. “A few years ago everybody wanted a video because everybody was talking about video. They commissioned work without being clear on why they were doing it. This then failed in its aims and gave video the mantle of being a costly, vanity project” but now “commissioners are starting to find their feet again and understand how video should be used properly.

But, says Mocha, although there is a “surge in companies realising the need and opportunity open to them with film” they’re not all that keen on paying for it. “There is a push back against the cost of quality.” 

Competition hots up
There may be more companies looking to use the moving image for their communication needs, but there are also more and more competitors offering to supply it. And it’s coming from all angles. Big Button points to the fact that “as smaller, day-to-day project budgets have continued to fall, competition with ‘one-man-band’ setups is an ongoing challenge.” H3 Productions also points to competition from “freelance one-man bands who do not have the same overheads.” Scorch also sees “increasing competition from the low-end and crowdsourcing creative websites.”

But it’s not just one man and his camera that corporate communications companies are battling against. The field is now wide open and competitors from many areas are entering the fray. Proudfoot points out that “more and more companies are entering our space, even if their work lacks the highest levels of production.” Crossing genres and sectors is far more common now. “There is a definite convergence of all forms of production company beginning to compete in the same space,” says Pukka. “The growth of digital platforms for distributing content means that you have corporate companies, broadcast companies and commercials companies all competing for the same space.”

Ad agencies are now one such competitor as they increasingly offer their clients ‘corporate film’ work on top of other services. “We also face competition from above-the-line agencies for projects that sit on the borderline between internal and external communication,” reports Belong. Casual points out that now “all an agency or client has to do is hire a freelancer or two and they have what they call a video production facility.”

Pretzel Films reckons in house production companies within agencies “must be the biggest threat to the industry since Pretzel formed 10 years ago. Unless, as film makers, we adapt and offer content as well as traditional corporate to agencies and clients alike then many more production companies will go down in 2016.”

And it’s not just agencies offering ‘content’ that’s a threat. Because clients themselves are “trying to establish more and more in house facilities,” says RD Content. Blueprint too has noticed “more competition from in house departments or clients picking up their own iPads to film elements themselves. Eventually this will be beneficial as even more than ever video is becoming the default medium to communicate with clients and colleagues.  The challenge remains offering a high quality product, not bottom chasing on rates.”

Pitch problems
All this competition brings other problems too. As clients have so many choices, more jobs are put out to tender. And pitching takes up a lot of time for a time poor business. “We felt on a couple of occasions that tenders were being offered simply to ‘test the water.’ A complete waste of valuable time,” says BMS. Knowing when to pitch is a gamble. “The pitch process can be especially challenging,” says Centre Screen. “Knowing when to invest a considerable amount of resources and time in a pitch and when to recognise that the chance of success may not be high enough.”

So the hunt is on for regular clients. “We’re looking to add major clients to our list who have regular communication needs we can meet without constantly pitching,” says Buddy. “We’re a relatively small company and the cost and time it takes to pitch can be a waste of resources.”

Less but more
But that’s hard when many clients’ video needs are for more but smaller projects. “This year has seen an increase in the volume of jobs and projects with clients rather than, substantial, long running projects,” says World Television. Straker too is “finding that there are less of the ‘all singing all dancing’ commissions out there but the number of productions per year continues to increase.” The challenge then is convincing commissioners that “shorter doesn’t mean cheaper,” as Jay Jay puts it. And it could be that more but smaller projects leads to ever more reliance on the procurement process. A process that’s simply “not suited to commissioning creative services,” says Wilder Films. Sequel argues that procurement departments have so little regard for creative skills that “they have invented a pitching system – Most Economically Advantageous Tender. What is telling is they know the system by its acronym, MEAT – which is probably how they see us.”

tech crunch
Unfortunate when the creative process is becoming more complicated. “The continued tech advance in our sector is phenomenal,” says Pretzel. “Grading, cameras, almost everything. A production company shot an entire Bentley ad on an iPhone and edited in the back of the car and it looked great!” There’s also more demand for high end cgi, animation and the use of “Steadicams, hand gimbles and drones. Equipment once seen as luxuries and even gimmicks, have become the norm,” says Media Zoo. And corporates must keep up with the plethora of devices people will be viewing the finished product on. “With over 20% of all video views on a mobile its essential to think about the mobile experience,” says Somersault. This complexity leads in some part to another issue that a good slice of the top 50 bring up again and again. And that’s “attracting the good talent that want to work in a full time production role within corporate production,” says Speakeasy. Top Banana also points to “finding senior staff” as an issue as does Psona and New Moon and Juice and the list goes on. Not surprising in such a complex new world that demands multi-skilled all-rounders.



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