Ad veterans to sell off-the-shelf TV commercials


By Jeffrey Goldfarb

CANNES, France, June 21 (Reuters) - In a bid to help European companies improve and extend their advertising, two industry veterans have teamed up to start a firm that will supply off-the-shelf commercials that can be customised and will draw on user-generated material.

Spotzer Media Group BV, whose plans to launch were announced on Wednesday at the advertising industry's annual meeting in the south of France, also plans to help small businesses plan their ad strategy and purchase media time for them.

The firm is the brainchild of Dutch commercial director Thed Lenssen, who has done work for Heineken and Volkswagen , and former Young & Rubicam creative director John Mezzina. Backed by venture capital, they have 10 million euros ($12.6 million) of start-up costs, and are based in Amsterdam.

"In a more global world, the paradox is that the regional world gets more importance," Lenssen told Reuters in an interview.

He said new digital technology enables advertisers to place their ads inexpensively in more local markets.

"For example, a 30-second prime time spot on MTV, running only in the city of Rotterdam, costs as little as 25 euros," he said. "However, no matter where you are in Europe, producing a commercial suitable for such a spot still requires an upfront investment of at least 20,000 euros and possibly much more."

Spotzer clients -- of which there are none to start -- will be able to choose from a catalogue of pre-produced ready-to-air commercials, which they can personalise.

Lenssen said he has shot about 60 so far. They are thematic, and therefore adaptable to multiple industries. He expects clients eventually will start uploading their own videos, which may be cutting-room floor material or raw footage whose idea could ultimately be filmed more professionally.

"Someone might submit 60 ideas to Heineken, and 59 will end up being deleted, so you can use those and the enormous talent in another form," he said.

The basic licence for Spotzer commercials will only be a few hundred euros, and will entitle exclusive use of an ad in a limited geographic area for a limited time. Longer or more exclusivity will be available but cost more.

"By spreading the cost of production over multiple advertisers, in different geographic markets, different industries, and at different points in time," Mezzina said, "we can dramatically lower the cost of advertising for local businesses."

The firm is targeting larger media markets in Europe to start, and expects the commercials to be distributed by broadcasters, cable operators, mobile phone companies and Web sites.



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