This article is part of the WIT Empowerment Day Mentorship Series, which provides insight and advice from top toy industry experts.
By Pablo Garrahan, Founder and Executive Producer, Fiction Films
For years, brand teams have presented next year’s exciting product lineup via a deep deck of PowerPoint excellence. At times, they’ve chosen to show their sales teams and buyers the potential marketability of a specific product by showing an energizing Sizzle to bring the point home.
The Sizzle dates back to at least the mid-nineties when the cost could run up to $150,000 and be shot on film. Fast forward to 2017. With the advances in digital technology and less lavish shows, costs have dropped dramatically. Today, the Sizzle is an affordable yet viable resource that generates excitement about a product or a trend in the marketplace.
In today’s multimedia, multi-platform, and image-on-demand business world, the opportunity to outperform and outsell using video is booming. The ability to effectively engage and target your audience is directly correlated with how well you can promote and sell your products online. According to Sparks & Honey report, this new generation of consumers can multitask across at least five screens daily and spend 41% of their time outside of school with computers or mobile devices, compared to 22% 10 years ago. Sizzle videos can be used as an excellent vehicle to announce and promote new product lines across your company’s social media channels, on your website, and be an interactive part of your company’s press releases.
Quantifying those well-positioned dollars on a Sizzle has yet to be run through an excel spreadsheet to show a spike, but if giants like Mattel, Spin Master, and Jakks are still adding them to their non-media arsenal, it indicates that Sizzles are doing exactly what they are designed to do; increase sales and profits for all.
So what does it take to produce an effective Sizzle? Here are five points to consider as you utilize this powerful media tool.
Know your demographic and make your creative brief as detailed as possible.
Prepare digital assets that can be passed on to the production team.
Assets include: b-sheets (preliminary design sketches), logos and packaging art work. These will be used to give the creative team an idea of how the product works and may be integrated into the edit.
Help create the tone and manner of the spot by knowing what type of music you’d like to use. Using music libraries are easier to license than a Lady Gaga track and are far less expensive. Keep in mind that by using music without permission could lead to a lawsuit down the road (even in the case of a Sizzle).
Know your timetable. This has two parts.
The delivery date it needs to be finished by in order to present.
When your product or prototype will be back from the factory for shooting.
A high-quality sizzle takes a good two weeks to complete from start to finish.
The average Sizzle will cost between $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the creative and production needs. This includes; cameras, sets, on-camera talent, visual effects (in the event your prototype doesn’t work), voice over, music and usage.
A Sizzle is not a commercial and therefore has its creative and budget limitations. Make sure your expectations are aligned with your budget.
A typical Sizzle runs between 35 seconds and a minute.
Any Sizzle over a minute runs the risk of losing its audience and sending costs upward.
If the $10,000 price point is cost prohibitive, there may be solutions to create videos at lower budgets. Keep in mind that they will likely not include talent or sets but rather hand models and a simplified background. The low-end price point ranges from $3,000 to $7,500.
Be Part of the Process
In the new economy, many companies are turning to an in-house creative team that outsources its production work. That’s good news for many smaller toy companies trying to compete. The traditional agency model is in place mostly for large corporations. That means that brand teams and production companies are now working closely together.
Be readily available to the production team during the process. Quick and definitive feedback ensures that you get what you want. Re-direction and late feedback often result in costly overages. Be smart and take the extra few minutes to plan out your vision.
Consider using the Sizzle as an essential part of your brand’s campaign to obtain more “bang for your buck”.
Cut it once and reusing it many times across multiple platforms is an excellent way to stretch your marketing dollars and stay on plan and within budget.
Repurposing your Sizzle can prove beneficial in many ways. As a traditional sales tool – it can run at Toy Fair presentations and Sales Reviews. It can also be compressed and sent via email to sales affiliates and retailers who missed the event.
Additionally, you can show it as an in-store loop at a retailer or in your showroom.
Make it part of your digital marketing strategy by repurposing it to post on your company’s social media channels, on your website, and at PR launch events.
Sizzles often become part of a brand’s success by creating sequels.
Buyers and retailers alike look forward to the next evolution in the brand’s life. Consider how you can start building brand equity in your first Sizzle and follow it up with others that continue to drive your positioning statement home.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The most effective stories are simple and reiterate a core message over and over.
Other Forms of Media
Slideshow, Instructional, End Cap, Shelf-talker, Commercial
Today’s Instructional Videos have proven to be very successful for brands that need to clearly demonstrate the intricacies of their products. They also cut down on the customer service call volume.
Use your production company to maintain your media or create a central location within your company to keep both digital and hard copy files from the production company.
Ask for all your files back.
Make sure to get generic forms, (edits without graphics so you can repurpose them in other languages), as well as master files.
Creating content for your product should be innovative and effective. Sizzles are an affordable platform that can leverage your product in the marketplace while helping you to define and shape your brands positioning at an early stage. Best of luck.
Pablo Garrahan is founder and executive producer of Fiction Films, a content creation company and production studio located in Los Angeles. He has worked with many licensors, including Disney, Pixar, LucasFilms LTD, Marvel, and DreamWorks, as well as toy companies Mattel, Spin Master, and Jakks Pacific to name a few. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 424.238.3410.