Essential for all great FMCG Commercials
By Mike Canavan BBStv.
(This is a general guide and must be used in conjunction with the overall Agency brief)
What follows is a guide to assist in making your product demonstration the best it can possibly be. It is often forgotten that the most important part of an FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good) commercial is the product demonstration. That’s why it is given 7-9 seconds within each and every new piece of copy.
In reality the marketing departments overlords will focus almost exclusively on how effective the product demonstration really is when judging whether the commercial:
(A) meets the brief
(B) will be an effective advocate and face of the brand in the eyes of the consumers.
Woe betide a marketing executive that does not take these elements into consideration. Most marketing directors have less interest in the story you might be trying to tell. All they really want is to do is convince the consumer that their product is the best in category and will solve their problems with the least possible effort from the user. If the demonstration does not offer this, they will deem the commercial worthless, and there will indeed be trouble at mill.
First and foremost:
WE MUST ENGAGE THE CONSUMER
It is essential that the viewer must feel connected to our products. To achieve this link between consumer and product, people must relate to what we are trying to sell.
Seeing a product in action reassures consumers of its function while guiding them to a more accurate decision as to whether or not the product is for them. We want to create a full sensory experience, engaging the audience by appealing to their visual, tactile, and auditory faculties.
PROVING OUR USP (Unique Selling Point) & RTB (Reason To Believe).
We have stiff competition in this category. Consumers want the best product at the best possible value for their money. We must provide a “wow” factor by highlighting standout features in the demonstration. Our product must be seen to deliver on its promise.
FOCUSING ON THE BUYER
When structuring a great product demonstration, the following must be taken into consideration: although our product demonstration is about the product, it is even more important that it be about the consumer. One of the first things that should be addressed in the demo is the problem or need that drives the consumer to the product. This will catch their attention by cultivating a need as opposed to a want. Be relevant to the current needs and circumstances of the audience while keeping your presentation engaging.
Maintain a tight time frame in order to maintain the audience’s attention. Define your point concisely, and don’t let it drag on. Be succinct, and don’t beguile the audience. Straightforwardness is key.
When crafting our product demo, we must use language that someone unfamiliar with the product will understand. While our presentation may make perfect sense to us, it might not make sense to someone with no background knowledge. Simplicity makes for an approachable demonstration that consumers won’t shy away from.
PLANNING THE SEQUENCE
Without a doubt, the most vital part of a demonstration is planning the sequence. By planning, I mean shot-listing every setup and every shot. In doing so, it is vital that you understand exactly how the product works and what the brand team and agency expect of the product demonstration. Once you understand this, you can meet their expectations, know what equipment is required, and most importantly, know how much time it will take out of the day.
GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY
You must get down and dirty inside the actual demonstration. Watching the product do its magic is, without a doubt, the best way to show its efficacy.
The secret is using special rigs and people who know how to use them.
Snorkel lens systems allow for panning of the objective lens while maintaining a level horizon. A six- or seven-inch diameter is enough to achieve a 360-degree pan, making this device ideal for table-top or miniature shots that can be adapted for waterproof usage. Spinning shots can also be easily accomplished by continuously rotating the image rotation ring. When using the included horizon tracker module, the horizon line can be set to the desired position and locked in place. This innovation allows the objective lens of the snorkel to be panned while the horizon remains level or at a Dutch tilt position.
Bear in mind that special waterproof light rigs should be used. They need a fair amount of extra light and a good deal of space (both depth and breadth) to achieve the best results.
Rigging these lenses and rigs is a time-consuming process, so it is imperative that you allocate enough time in the production day to do justice to the required work and costs associated with renting these special tools.
A recent entry into the market is the Laowa 24mm Relay Macro “Snorkel” Lens.
With normal macro lenses, one sometimes runs into the problem of having camera or lens shadows all over the subject. The wider the lens, the bigger the problem, because a wider field of view means a greater chance of capturing unwanted shadows. Also, it is sometimes very hard to get physically close enough to the subject with a normal-sized macro lens.
These snorkels are niche lenses with a very special purpose. For example, they can be submerged underwater without destroying your camera, allowing for that otherwise-impossible shot inside an anthill or a small cave.
At f/16, these lenses cannot be used in low light. It’s only logical that it is slow because of the tiny opening and the long tube. Nevertheless, there’s a very shallow depth of field because the lens is a macro.
Make no mistake, this lens has unique but limited applications. In the appropriate circumstances, however, the results are remarkable.
WORKING WITH GLASS TANKS
In the past, we have used aquariums for product demonstrations. They are relatively easy to light and do not require waterproof equipment. To get the best results, you really need a full set of macro lenses on hand.
Using Macro Lensing
Macro lenses are used for close-up or macro photography.
They range in focal lengths from 50–200mm. These lenses obtain razor-sharp focus for subjects within the macro focal plane, but they lose their ability for sharp focus at other distances. This is an advantage when drawing viewers to our products USP and RTB.
These lenses enable us to obtain life-size or larger images of the product sequence in action.
Please be mindful that macro lenses are slow (due to the f-stop), and they require a good deal of light and technicians who know how to use them.
UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF POST PRODUCTION
We utilise post-production services to highlight the benefits of our USP and RTB. At no time can post-production create false or misleading claims in the minds of consumers, but it can highlight the efficacy of the product and the way it interfaces with the test garment.
PREPARING THE DEMO SETUP AND RE-SETS
One issue that will slow you down will be the demo setups, which take more time than you might think. Another issue is the re-set of the shot. For example, if you fill an aquarium with distilled water (a must) and add our product for the demonstration, you will only get so many takes before the water becomes cloudy and needs changing. The re-set will take the standby props department at least 20 minutes to clean the tank, remove the soapy residue, re-polish the glass, and be ready to fill the tank again. You will need at least three to four tanks in rotation so as not to lose valuable shooting time.
Staining fabrics is a difficult task. I would recommend that you have at least 5–8 garments available at any one time, because it is almost impossible to create perfectly identical stains. Preparing a number of stains in advance puts you ahead of the game. I recommend that you allow your standby props department one or two days before the shoot to become familiar with the product and the stains required. On this occasion, practice does make perfect.
USE SMALL HANDS
It may surprise you to know that using talent with smaller hands aids in telling a product’s story. Larger hands cover much of the action and are difficult to use in small spaces. This may sound obvious, but it is rarely considered in the casting process until you are on set.
Product demonstration is the key factor in the storytelling of a TVC or content piece. If the product demonstration does not convince the viewer of the efficacy of the product, the copy will be of little or no value.
Not wanting to detract in any way from the creative storytelling process, the product demonstration is the essence of our message and provides our USP and RTB.
Here is a summary of things to watch out for:
• Precise planning and shot listing of every shot and setup. This is essential.
• Understanding how the product works and communicating it to the viewer.
• Using the right specialised equipment and technicians to enhance the USP and RTB.
• Allowing enough time in the schedule to do the work required.
• Preparing enough time for setups and re-sets, because they will not all go according to plan.