Commercial for commercials
If I were to make a 30-second cable spot for my freelance videography company advertising the fact that I can produce 30-second spots for cable advertising, and took that spot to the cable company to run, can they deny me the media time? Basically, can the cable company deny a competitor from advertising with them? After all, they offer production services too.
[Aaron Cadieux] "can the cable company deny a competitor from advertising with them?"
Maybe. Possibly they might want to but the people in a broadcast or cable organization who sell spots and the people who produce spots are seldom one in the same. And the people who sell spots and make commissions selling spots typically will have a LOT more influence over management than will the production department. So the long and short of it is yes, you probably could do this. But that doesn't make it a good idea.
[Aaron Cadieux] "If I were to make a 30-second cable spot for my freelance videography company advertising the fact that I can produce 30-second spots for cable advertising"
I and others have written about this here before. An incredibly tiny percentage of people watching TV are the ones purchasing TV production. So why pay for the whole viewing audience when you're trying to reach just a fraction of it? A better -- and MUCH cheaper -- strategy would be to identify decision makers within companies who advertise and offer them a $100 bill to watch your reel with you and listen to your sixty second pitch.
Wow, that's a great idea!
The answer is yes they can not sell you the air time if they want to. I'd suggest talking to the sales manager of your local cable system, tell him what you want to do and see if you can work something out to pick up overflow work or commercials that they don't want to tie up their department doing. In most cases, the cable company production departments are not profit centers, just a vehicle to help get advertising clients on the air. If they won't work with you, take the money you would spend on the airtime, pick out a few select clients that you feel like you can do a great job for and take them out to dinner and sell yourself to them one on one.
I have Comcast in my location, they often run their own ads to small business, hawking their production services. Every cable service does this, mostly as filler in parts of their programming that have not sold anything.
And that right there should tell you something alarming.
It is almost impossible for you to beat the cable company at this game, because they throw in production for free when you make the ad buy thru them, but if you as an outside company make the spot, your client, a local business, has to pay for your production PLUS the ad buy. This almost never happens in the very tiny margin business of local advertising. The cable company's own production would have to be so very very bad that people are willing to pay more for better spots. You are generally forced to work for the cable company directly or as a subcontractor; either way, it's not often lucrative.
The people that may want to hire you to make spots for them don't spend a lot of their own time watching cable. Ads to them in that setting won't work. Well, "won't" is too strong. You could place a spot in business and investment related programming, I suppose. But considering how small your local market is, it would take too much repeat playing of the spot to make a dent. That's not efficient use of your time and money. You would have better luck reaching them thru direct mail, ads in targeted print media, even drive-time radio. Really, the old shoe-leather approach may be the best for you in this case: face to face cold-calling with a nice demo, some stats, and a brochure. It's not very "21st century", I admit. Don't forget to go to chamber of commerce and BBB meetings, Elks club, that sort of thing, meet and greet, get known.
Best to just ask them....
They can deny you airtime... but I bet they won't...
Cable companies typically don't like to do commercial production. They do it out of necessity, in order to sell airtime. Even with their crappy $200 spots, they are losing money on actually doing the production part... but they make it up with selling the airtime (ummm, rather, cabletime).
I'm betting the cable company would love having you as an advertiser... it can only lead to more business for them, and lessen the loss-leader production work.
We have great relationships with all of the cable systems in our region... they come pick up spots here every day, and will even refer their clients to us when an advertiser needs a production that is beyond the abilities of the cable company. Broadcast television stations do the same thing.
The only problem that ever happens is the "sticker shock" that cable advertisers get when they decide they need to move up to a "real" production. They are used to $200 spots, and learning that a slick spot from a real post house is going to require increasing their production budget somewhere in the 20x - 50x range is sometimes a surprise. A fairly large percentage of them do bite, though.
Just ask the cable company. I'll bet they go for it.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.