Monday, May 10, 2004
By KATE KAYE
From the zany discount store owner to the monotone men's apparel
chain spokesguy, local and regional TV spots may have character,
but high quality they're not. As national and international corporate
marketers know, good ads require big budgets, and most hometown
operations simply don't have the bucks. That's where stock motion
footage and production-ready commercial supplier Thought Equity
comes in. The Denver-based firm acts as a middleman, channeling
otherwise wasted or underutilized creative from agencies to the
mid-market of local and regional businesses.
Take one Thought Equity client, a golf training center with a locally
produced ad that just wasn't up to snuff. With a creative budget
of around $8000, the advertiser wanted a superior spot to be licensed
in two locales. As Thought Equity CEO Kevin Schaff tells it, the
only bidder in the Denver market besides Thought Equity wanted $25,000
for creative production. "No one wants to look like a used car dealer",
says Schaff. The ex-agency entrepreneur started the company in 2002
in the hopes of upgrading the quality of local cable, broadcast
and print ads, as well as turning unused creative into an added
revenue generator for agencies. "Creative is always a barrier to
entry for an advertiser," he adds. The thing is, "A lot of agencies
have some kind of creative base that's sitting there dormant." By
digitizing creative that either wasn't chosen by a client or has
run only in a particular market, and making it available via the
web, his company connects the otherwise typically disparate worlds
of agencies and local advertisers.
Thought Equity gleans creative on consignment from over 350 U.S.
agencies and designers, and it partners with media companies, including
Comcast and Regal Cinemas, in 110 regions. When creative is sold
for licensing, the agency receives 40 percent of gross revenue from
Thought Equity. Clients get source files, so ad components like
music and voice-overs can be modified. The footage distributor deals
with legal headaches, too: in addition to clearing all rights, Thought
Equity ensures that no SAG talent is used in any creative.
Through the firm's web site, www.thoughtequity.com,
potential clients can search by keyword for thousands of commercials,
print ads and footage options, view them over any connection speed
and request delivery of the files. Which allowed, for example, for
a spot originally developed for a BMW dealer and licensed for the
Atlanta market to get a new lease on life in the Las Vegas market.
In its reincarnated form as a Budget Rent-a-car commercial, the
ad is running in conjunction with a promotion for Budget's luxury
Thought Equity clients do have choices beyond production-ready
television commercials. Through the company's partnership with Collegiate
Images, TV producers and advertisers can garner archived film and
video clips of 14 men's and women's collegiate sporting events.
For use during March Madness college basketball extravaganza, advertisers
such as Pontiac licensed college hoops highlights, and television
show producers obtained rights to footage, like stadium establishing
shots. To refine local advertising targeting even more, Thought
Equity is in the process of equipping all creative for addressable
markets, which allows advertisers to serve different ad creative
to different homes based on demographic data. In addition to giving
local and regional ads a much needed facelift, Schaff stresses that
providing high-quality creative to mid-tier markets "allows great
creatives to make money, recognize the value of their work and be
rewarded for it."