Video for cars
I am about to approach bunch of car dealerships around me in regards to shoot a video of their inventory on the lot. Those videos will be used on the car dealerships website, so instead of looking at the picture, the potential buyer will be looking at 30-60 seconds video of the car. The video will include exterior shots, interior shots as well as a 360* interior.
My question is that when I approach them, I will have to mention how much the charge will be for per car or bulk. Since car dealerships doesn't want to spend too much money on advertisement like this, what do you guys think the charge should be for a min 25 cars videos.
Any helpful response will be greatly appreciated.
Ok, I'm gonna be one of those posters on the COW that personally drive me up a tree... you know, when someone asks a question about something, but then people start chiming in with all kinds of totally unsolicited (and usually negative) advice about the poster's project except the thing that they asked about. I personally can't stand that, but now I'm going to do it myself... because I think some of it might be helpful in defining what you are hoping to do... and eventually how much to charge for it.
The obvious first-blush answer to "how much do I charge" question is simply "Whatever your rate is," your rate for location shooting and your rate for editing multiplied times however long it takes you. But... automotive work can be pretty weird.
I personally don't really like doing automotive too much, yet through the years have done a lot of it. Right now every month we do commercial spots for BMW, Volvo, Porsche, Landrover, Jaguar, and Honda dealers, along with a regional Honda Dealers Association... as well as not-quite-as-regular work for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Nissan, Mercedes, Chevrolet and Ford stores. So we've had to deal a lot with automotive dealers and more importantly the automotive advertising and marketing people. It can get pretty complex.
The first thing you have to figure out is how much they are willing to pay (obvious question, I know). As you said, dealerships don't want to spend too much money on things like this. Dealerships will spend plenty of it (sometimes buckets full) on the right kind of advertising... and for them that usually means co-opable advertising. The adverting that dealers find attractive invariably involve co-op money (where, say, you do ad work for a Toyota dealer and the dealer pays you but gets reimbursed a good chunk of the bill from Toyota). Usually though, the only advertising eligible for co-op is broadcast advertising. The manufacturers will co-op television or radio all day, but will likely be very reluctant to co-op anything else. I'd suggest you find out of any of their web-based marketing is eligible for any co-op funds. I'm going to suspect that it's not, but if it is then you are in a much better position to sell this service and to ask a higher rate for it.
Secondly, before you start putting a great deal of time and energy in developing this, find out if it is technically feasible with the dealers you are planning to target. Many of the dealers (especially larger ones) will have an on-site person in charge of keeping inventory and such up to date on their websites... but I wouldn't call that person an actual "webmaster" because almost invariably automotive sites are designed, hosted, and maintained by off-site third-party companies that specialize in automotive websites. Those sites, depending on the design and the package the dealer has purchased, might or might not even allow embedded video for individual inventory items. That'd be worth checking early on.
Thirdly, don't discount what we normally think of as lower-end cars... it sounds backwards, I know, but the more "mainstream" vehicles (your Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, etc.) are much MUCH more likely to spend bigger advertising dollars than high-end or luxury dealers. I know it's odd... but true. We've had dealers of VERY high end vehicles (the kind that have cars in the showroom that literally cost more than my house) that will complain about the cost of a several very modestly-priced commercial spots that they plan to run a whole year. Another more "mainstream" dealer client of ours won't bat an eye at spending twice that (or more) on a single spot that's only going to run two weeks... and then they are ready to do another one right after that. So don't think "expensive" cars are where the money is at and that dealers of "cheap" cars aren't worth bothering with. The exact opposite is true.
Lastly, find out if this is something a dealer would even want or need. That'll help determine what you should charge. You mentioned shooting a minimum of 25 cars at a whack. Do the dealers want that many? If so, you're golden... but they might not. The average auto brand usually only has about a half-dozen active models for sale at any given time. A gigantic Honda dealership might have 1000 cars for sale on the lot... but 300 of them are going to be almost-identical Pilots. 300 more almost identical Civics. 200 Accords. And so on. They might not need or want 25 different videos... especially when really slick high-end videos of each model are readily available on the manufacturer's website.
What I've said so far isn't that positive, but I'll put a much more upbeat twist on it...
Where what you are offering might be much more useful in the USED (or as they say "pre-owned") realm. If there is a "used car supercenter" in your market, THAT's who I would hit up. Or if there are particular larger new dealers that also maintain very active used departments (and the bigger ones do). Those are the advertisers that never have to worry about co-op money (because there isn't any), nor do they have national or corporate advertising (or marketing elements) to use or fall back on. Their inventory is wide and varying and changes daily. I think THAT's where you're most likely to sell this service.
I know I haven't at ALL answered your question, but I do hope I've given you some things to think about that might help you get in the right direction.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Quick Answer: DO NOT PROCEED.
The wife and I unfortunately had to buy two new cars last year, we have always tried to have one car fully paid for and one with payments, but as our luck had it both died in 2015 so we were in the market for two new ones, so I have a lot of recent experience on shopping. There is no way video does justice to a vehicle as still photography does. This is based on hours of experience going onto Cars.com, Edmunds, Carmax, etc. With stills you can now mouse around, blow up, etc. and you can't do that with video as well.
I filmed the 2015 Chicago Auto Show and was amazed at the pro still photographers from the major auto magazines and how they set up 360 still cameras in the exact center of the interior, they had specialized tripods, motorized heads. No way could you do it justice with video.
But let's breakdown your idea. As Todd mentioned there's something called Co Op Funds and you'd have to be dealing with the dealership's advertising manager and agency. The agency is involved because they buy the air time, rarely have I seen the dealer execs do it because it is such an arcane science. So you as an outside, unknown entity, will have a hard time breaking in, and if you manage to worm yourself in, the agency will resent you. Agencies don't care for us coming in and grabbing some of their pie. I have found that dealerships are run like feudal dictatorships, high ego owners and when I first started in the biz I shot a lot of local dealer spots. Regional spots were a more rarefied world. Nowadays it's more corporate, where several models share a lot and there's a holding company keeping the little dictators in check, run more like a traditional business rather than a dictatorship, but that biz is still known for being top down and also for slow paying.
But the real reason I say kill this idea is that it is based on "inventory", which changes by the second in that business. Every spot you make with have zero shelf life. Opposite of evergreen. Back in the day when they did show individual rides in their spots, the lower fourth of fifth of the screen legally had to have the stock or VIN number, at least in IL, plus legalese so small you couldn't even read it, because the dealers were caught in bait and switch (I'm shocked!). The laws are different for every state but there was always a lot of minuscule text.
That's my two cents. Although a few months ago I did a slew of dealer spots, mainly little documentaries about client satisfaction, I was glad I was "just the DP", I personally wouldn't want to deal with them directly. Very high stress business...
You already have the best advice, twice.
The time suck that would be involved, even if you had a customized station set up where all you do is drive the car onto some markings and the rest is mostly automated... I have a hard time seeing a profit after the expenses and time. The local "shopper" car magazines typically offer a profile shot and maybe one interior shot, for free. At the rate dealerships move cars on and off the lot, can you even keep pace shooting, processing/editing, and outputting 25 videos a day? This sounds more like a Quicktime VR photo gig to me than a classic "video".
What I *could* imagine is, a video where you ride along with one of the salesmen/women in a "pick of the week" car, shooting with go-pros inside and a second camera car shooting outside, and you cut together 90 seconds of the salesperson driving the car and talking about it's best points. Put that on the car dealership's facebook, once a week. It could be a female salesperson demonstrating a good "college student car", talking about it's safety, good mileage, and reliability. Another could demo an SUV and drive it over to a park, or the marina, talking about the engine power, maximum towing weight, off-road handling, etc. A commuter car handling downtown parking, a family van driving to a garage sale or bike shop, etc. You'd use the best local locations to get a message across about how the car best fits a target lifestyle. No script, just a few rehearsed bullet points ad-libbed as the driver makes conversation with the cameras. Your outside camera car takes turns running in front of, behind, and on either side of the operating demo car, also with go-pros, or whatever, along with a bumper or wheel-well-mounted shot, maybe, for the sportier cars. And you shoot it in 30-40 minutes, from prepping the car interior cameras to parking it back at the dealership, post it by the next morning. Think of Seinfeld's "Driving in Cars With Coffee" as the model. Whether it sells the particular car or not, it becomes a way for the salespeople to meet and greet their target market, show the variety of product they sell, and create a Brand.
[Mark Suszko] "What I *could* imagine is, a video where you ride along with one of the salesmen/women in a "pick of the week" car, shooting with go-pros inside and a second camera car shooting outside, and you cut together 90 seconds of the salesperson driving the car and talking about it's best points."
Our largest automotive client, by the way, does exactly and precisely that, right down to the smallest detail Mark mentioned (in fact he was almost creepily accurate there). And they find it super effective.
What it is not, though, is a cash cow for production companies like mine. In this instance, the ad guy from the dealership does it entirely himself... just armed with a couple of mics and his bag full of a half-dozen GoPros and mounts. Now, this dealership's marketing dude is the smartest and shrewdest ad guy I've ever met.... and he is not afraid of spending money in the least. They don't bat an eye at production budgets in the five-figure range even for a single :30 spot that's only going to run a couple of weeks.... and they'll often run a month-long TV campaign where their media budget is in the mid four-figures.... A DAY!! So they know the value of not skimping and penny-pinching on good production. But even they know it's not nearly worth it to spend money on "real" production for these ride-along "pick of the week" type videos. And I have to say, for do-it-yourselfers they don't do a bad job with it, at all.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Well, it's creepy in a *good* way, I guess... so I'll take it.:-) I just find it bemusing, the marketing ideas you and I come up with or bandy about seem like such slam-dunks, but I have the worst time getting anybody to listen to me, locally, for creative. It's said: "A prophet is without honor in his own country". or the more contemporary version: " Back home, I'm just a shmuck crackpot dreamer nobody pays attention to. Any place else, I'm an out-of-town hotshot consultant and a certified genius."
I can't thank you all enough for the valuable input. Since this idea of mine doesn't need any investment, I am gonna try it anyways and approach the dealerships around my area to see what kind of response I am get. I am a one man show at the moment and the price I will be giving the dealership will be super competitive like $200/car and if they buy the service in bulk like 25-50 cars, the price will be cheaper.
The input that I got from you guys is more like for a TV spot and I am talking about a video alongside the pictures on their website. I am in the process of editing a video, once done I will be posting a link here so you guys can have a better idea what kind of video I am talking about.
[Fahad Minhaj] " I will be giving the dealership will be super competitive like $200/car"
Not to further rain on your parade, but I do want you to have things in perspective since you seem dead set on doing this idea... and actually I honestly do want you to succeed, if you try it...
You might think $200 per car is competitive, but a dealer is going to think that is sky high. Huge. Enormous. There is no way a dealer is going to spend an extra 200 bucks to promote an individual car that is on their lot. Trust me, I deal with these guys all the time, everything from Hyundais to Mercedes, from big corporate dealers to local mom-and-pop outfits, and no one I have ever worked with would even consider that.
If you go in with a quote of 200 per car, your meeting is going to end immediately. Not only is that high, but it's so high that a dealer is not even going to continue the conversation since they know they're never going to get you to a point that interests them. They know they can probably talk you down by 20 bucks, but they can't talk you down to a fifth or a tenth of your proposed cost, which is about all I can see a dealer ever willing to spend. Especially since this would be a complete and total out-of-pocket advertising expense for the dealers, would not likely be co-opable at all (and dealers are really only interested in advertising and marketing costs that they can get co-op money for).
Dealers don't really make money on new cars anymore. Thanks largely to the internet, everyone everywhere now knows what the bottom dollar is for a car, ergo most of the haggling or wiggle room in a car's price now is gone. On the average new car now, when you go in and buy that new $28,900 car the dealer is actually lucky if they make about $800 in profit. Sometimes less. Sometimes none. Sometimes they even lose money on a sale. Sounds crazy, but it's true. How do they stay open (some even getting rich)? Well they make their money on other things, largely on financing and service (and sometimes on accessories and upgrades, and often a quite a bit on used vehicles). So selling a new car is never itself a cash cow for a dealer... it's a conduit for them making money other ways.
I just can't see a dealer even entertaining the idea of cutting their almost-non-existent profit on a single vehicle by an additional 200 bucks. If you can get it down to a fraction of that (and I mean a true small fraction), they might... but not at that rate.
Good luck, let us know how it goes.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
@Todd Terry; Don't know what to say but I am thinking about giving it a shot anyways and lets see what happens. Thanks Todd, I really appreciate the genuine and productive response.