Clip Licensing: A new Approach to Advertising.

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Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre.

Jiggy George, Founder and CEO, Dream Theatre.

A sure way to gauge the strength of economic growth of a country is by reviewing the growth of the advertising industry, or to be more precise, the output of the creative agencies – there are new products being launched, the industry is brimming with talent, agencies push the envelope with fresh fearless ideas and clients are more open to exploring new ways of communicating to their target audience. More often than not, the more robust economies usually have high quality advertising emanating from them. The Indian advertising industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, but what is more encouraging is that India now is in the forefront of creating path breaking, award winning and iconic advertising that connects with the audience and propels the brands and products to the fore front.

TV and Print advertising still rule the roost in India and we have seen many memorable ads accounting for almost 80% of the Rs 36,200 crore market. But a recent trend is the growth of digital media, which now has very clever, clutter breaking ads, some of which are being created purely for the digital media and are doing a great job of both delivering the message effectively as well as engaging with the target audience.

A hitherto un-explored creative route in India is Clip Licensing which has been leveraged extensively in the US, Europe and most recently in Australia. Clip Licensing involves using clips from existing Films, TV series and Animation Films or Series to create advertising campaigns. Simply put, Clip Licensing involves using existing or customised footage or clips from films, TV series and animated content to create brand advertising. This could also take the form of “Inspired by” iconic films or series or characters as well as “Spoofs.”

While top networks and studios around the world offer clip licensing possibilities, Warner Bros. has taken massive strides in the global market within this arena with a repertoire of 7000+ titles, 50,000+ hours of television programming and 15,000+ animated titles.

To delve a little deeper, the following are various forms that Clip Licensing could take:

Clip Licensing: The most simple version is of using Pre-existing footage inserted directly into advertisements. “Clips” also refers to still images lifted directly from footage or from an original promotional poster. Google, Nike, Gillette have used this form successfully in campaigns.

“Spoofs/ Inspired by” form of Clip Licensing: Campaigns inspired by equity (famous scenes, quotes, character traits or likeness, choreography, etc.). Amex has created a great campaign spoofing Superman and Seinfeld in the US and Coca Cola has done some great work across films and animation series in the Inspired by form of clip licensing, again in the US.

New Animation Clip Licensing: Animation also offers the opportunity to create New or Customised animation based on existing properties that can be incorporated into or created around a brand message. Metlife, AT&T, Ford Motors have run campaigns using customized clips in their TVCs. Closer home Perfetti Alpebliebe and All Out have created clutter breaking and outstanding TVCs with India’s most popular toon duo – Tom and Jerry.

Character Inspired Clip Licensing: This form utilizes key characters, recognizable icons or other property elements to inspire an advertising campaign. ANZ Bank has now run a very successful and sustained campaign in Australia using Patrick Jane, the lead actor, played by Simon Baker, of the famous Warner Bros. TV series “Mentalist”.

The licensed assets include a very wide range of assets and open up innumerable possibilities. It includes Pre-existing Clips and Stills, Customised Clips and Stills, Dialogues, Choreography, Film or TV Titles, Characters or Character Names, Recognizable Imagery, and any derivatives thereof. Interestingly, evens Spoofs and “Inspired by” ads require a license because it exploits intellectual property.

The Clip Licensing process involves identifying the clip or brand for usage and working closely with the property owner to secure the license rights, fees and duration of the campaign. A Clip License contract is drawn up accordingly and the creative approval process is started. The creative, whether TVC or Digital or Print or Outdoors or Radio or any combination of mediums is put through a creative and brand assurance process to ensure that the licensed brand is represented correctly and all associated rights have been secured. Each medium includes different stages of approvals by the Brand Assurance team of the licensor or property owner. For example, TVC creative approval includes concept, storyboard, rough cut and final cut approvals.

In India, Clip Licensed hasn’t been explored and exploited to its full potential. The global nature of entertainment means that Warner Bros. treasure trove of brands across films ( Casablanca, Matrix, Superman, Batman, Hangover and numerous others), TV series ( Friends, Big Bang Theory etc) and Animation series ( Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes) are iconic brands and are also a part of our popular culture. The beauty of clip licensing as a medium lies in the resonance of the DNA of the brands – whether is it the strength and integrity of Superman or the mischief of Tom and Jerry – lends itself perfectly to universal brand themes that a product may want to communicate in their campaigns. The iconic brands almost become your brand ambassadors basis what they stand for and the messaging that the brand wants to communicate.

While we do see a frenzy of clip licensing across big movie releases whereby brands use clips from upcoming films to create promotions or associations, there is so much scope to leverage this form of licensing to create sound, long term and strategic communication plans; Creatives can leverage the equity, sometimes built over generations like in the case of Superman and Batman, sometimes path-breaking like Matrix and Inception, sometimes just for the sheer popularity like in the case enduring series like Friends and Big Bang Theory or sometimes just for ability to connect and laugh, no matter how old we are, like Tom and Jerry. Each Warner Bros. property has distinct identities and DNA that can be mined and used for building long term communication.

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Neeta Nair

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