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Going Big on a Budget

Building the budget for the campaign was the start of the creative process, not the end of it.

A client pitches an idea for a campaign. The goal is to elevate their brand with innovative scripts, high quality cameras, multiple actors, and set designs. A perfect opportunity to create a superior product benefiting everyone involved. Sounds great, right? Let’s get to work!

But before the creative writing sessions, casting, or location scouting can get underway, someone needs to ask the big question: what’s the budget?

No one wants to talk numbers when there’s this oh-so-great-and-hilarious idea you want to pitch to kick off an exciting ad campaign. Whenever there’s talk of budget, all big ideas suddenly seem like unattainable luxuries. Initial conversations fueled by creativity and innovation become meetings to discuss cuts and compromises. That big, exciting project just became another project.

We don’t believe that should be the case. “Budget” shouldn’t be a bad word. Building a budget that works for a client is just another creative exercise. Maybe we can’t pay for drone shots or a full-fledged post-production team, but so what if we can’t? Here’s an example of what we CAN do, regardless of budget.

“Budget” shouldn’t be a bad word.

Black Infusions, a small, artisanal distillery, approached us with limited spending money. Up until this point, the client had been producing their own videos promoting cocktail recipes incorporating their top selling Black Fig and Gold Apricot vodkas. They wanted us to create more recipe videos with a much higher production quality. It would have been easy for us to simply say yes, but instead, we asked the client to explore other ideas. What if there was a story? Or multiple stories? We could create a campaign of several individual videos with the same look and feel to keep brand consistency. Could we make it work with a small budget originally intended for no-nonsense recipe videos? With the right tools… absolutely.      

Building the budget for the campaign was the start of the creative process, not the end of it. There was no question as to “if” a quality campaign could be produced with a small budget, only “how.”

We designed the campaign around a primary character our client comically dubbed “The Drink Angel.” Each video would begin with the Drink Angel narrating a dilemma playing out in front of him at a bar and would end with a unique cocktail created using Black Infusions vodka. Each scenario required multiple actors, and because each scenario centered on a different dilemma, each would require a different look and feel. This could mean multiple cameras, set changes, lighting changes, and more which inevitably becomes expensive. So how could we make four videos but keep the costs down?

The talent was non-negotiable. At least eight quality actors were needed to make the production work. Luckily, our client was more than happy to have some screen time and took on the primary role of the Drink Angel, lowering the talent budget.  To get other costs low we decided there would be no location changes, a single camera, and we shoot each video in a “oner” or single shot, single take.

To make this work we leaned on the incredible talent of our production designer, Brandon, and gaffer, Walter, who carefully sourced and placed props and lighting that could quickly be adjusted to appropriately match the scenario being filmed. This negated the need for multiple cameras, location changes, lighting setups, and tons of equipment which allows us to run a much smaller crew. By carefully planning in advice, we can reduce equipment costs and production time, then add in a highly skilled, skeleton crew. Cycle in talent as needed. And add a splash of vodka to taste.

The end product truly speaks for itself.

The end product truly speaks for itself. We created four high quality videos – in one day – for the cost of a typical production for one video. The campaign is classy, professional, and, most importantly, the caliber our client needed. Money doesn’t produce quality productions, quality production teams do.

Check out the Drink Angel video campaign on Black Infusions Facebook or Instagram pages.

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