29 Jan 2020

Going Deeper: What does branded content cost to produce?

This post is part of an ongoing series called Going Deeper where we look at branded content production through the lens of the world’s most important question: why.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to take a look at what branded content costs to produce by running through our example project for our fictional client, Acmify.

So how much does branded content cost? Well, how long is a piece of string? Well, it depends on what you need that piece of string to do.

A piece of branded content video could cost you anywhere from absolutely nothing to millions of dollars. But, what we’d like to do is break down some of the key line items you can expect. 

For your project, the exact numbers will vary – based on the skill and experience of the people involved, where in the world you’re shooting, and what you’re looking to achieve, but if you understand the broad strokes of what is required, then you should be able to plug in your own math to get a sense of what a piece of branded content might cost you.

The client

Let’s recap.

Our hypothetical client in this scenario is Acmify, a start-up based in the Bay Area. They produce a revolutionary widget – The ALCHEMIZER – that zaps a laser at any piece of base metal – like lead – and turns it into gold. Pretty cool, right?

And they sell plenty of units of The Alchemizer, but they could be doing better, and they’ve identified that a key area they’re not successfully communicating with their potential customers revolves around their brand values. 

See, not only do they sell a product that is useful, they also manufacture that product at a factory right in the East Bay, and they hire a huge number of non-violent ex-cons in the factory. They’re really proud of the social good that they’re doing, and they want to make sure that anyone thinking of buying their widget, as well as understanding the clear benefit of turning lead into gold, also understands that they can feel good about being part of this company’s overall mission.

The brief

Donna, Acmify’s head of marketing reaches out to a production company because she wants to produce a video that highlights the company’s social mission.

Everyone  jumps on a call and together identifies the need to shoot in Acmify’s Oakland manufacturing facility.

The wrench in the works here, for planning purposes, is that the CEO is super busy, basically all the time, and so she won’t be able to come down to the factory for her interview – that will need to be done at their office in Palo Alto.

And, in addition to all these interviews to tell the story, it’s important that the piece is visually compelling and looks on par with the kind of documentaries audiences might be used to seeing on a platform like HBO or PBS, and includes immersive, vérité elements that bring the viewer into the Acmify manufacturing facility, and the lives of the people who work there. That means that the production company needs to capture high-quality b-roll, both in the office and at the factory.

Donna is looking to come away from the process with a 3-4 minute film about the company’s mission and impact, as well as some shorter edits that she can share on social media: 1-minute extracts for Instagram feed, 15-second cuts for Instagram stories, a version with embedded captions for Facebook, etc.

With the brief clear, next week we’ll start to break down some of the cost considerations