P&G Reaches Far and Wide, Including to NASA, to Cut Video Costs

Space: The Final Frontier for Marketing Procurement?

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P&G seeks ideas to cut production costs from all over, including NASA.
P&G seeks ideas to cut production costs from all over, including NASA.
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Ever heard someone say advertising isn't rocket science? Don't tell that to Procter & Gamble Co., which in a wide-ranging effort to find less-expensive ways to shoot TV commercials and other video content, has posted a request for information on the website of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration among other places.

The post, which went up Sept. 11, says P&G is seeking "a new way to produce moving images for TV commercials and digital video that meets the demand of more flexible content" and "produces more content at a cost that is significantly lower than today's average" TV commercial in the U.S. while still meeting its brands' production-quality standards.

A P&G spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the brief was issued through P&G's "Connect & Develop" program to gather industry ideas, adding that: "P&G continually works to improve how we engage with consumers. This includes looking for innovative new methods of producing content and cost savings with production." Posting on NASA.gov was intentional as part of the company's effort to cast a wide net for ideas.

The post notes that the TV commercial production process has been "essentially the same for the past 50 years" from storyboard to agencies hiring directors, using pre-specified production companies and getting final copy approved by the brand. But it notes that brands have increasing need for video content that's not produced specifically for TV, while demands for higher return on investment have grown.

"Furthermore," the post says, "our competitors are finding ways to dramatically reduce the costs of TV commercial and digital video production." Production has become a less capital-intense industry," the post says, creating opportunities for new, potentially lower-cost players.

In the post, P&G said it is seeking a way to produce video with costs "significantly lower" than today's average of $273,000 for beauty and $364,000 for household products" TV ads, citing the latest American Association of Advertising Agencies survey data.

While certain tools and skills, such as a camera and an operator "can't be changed," the post seeks ideas for "new operational structures and/or use of new industries for this innovation project." Oct. 13 is the deadline for idea submissions.

The effort comes amid a far-reaching P&G effort to cut costs in marketing and media and a multi-year plan to squeeze $1 billion in costs annually from its marketing budget. In an investor presentation earlier this month, Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller noted that among steps in that direction the company will hire fewer celebrity spokespeople for such brands as Head & Shoulders.