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The Brand’s Most Critical Meeting in Production – The Pre-Production Meeting

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For most of MRA’s clients, the New Year brings new budgets and new advertising.  Creative development and ad production are kicking into high gear now.  As you start looking ahead to your next TV commercial or Print advertising shoot, here are a few things to keep in mind about the most critical meeting in production for you – the Pre-Production Meeting (PPM).


The PPM marks the moment in the life of your TV commercial or print ad when responsibility for your advertising is transferred from those who have developed the creative work to those who will execute it.  You and your agency team have substantial knowledge about your brand and, most likely, have been working on this project for months.  All your expectations and aspirations for what this new advertising will look like, how it will communicate the messaging, and how your product will be showcased must be conveyed to a production team that has been focusing on your project for only a handful of days.


The agency producer runs the PPM, which will include representatives from the brand team, agency creative and account teams, the director or photographer and his/her producer, and depending on the project, specialists such as the stylist, set designer, or home economist.  The agency producer will have an agenda that covers everything from the objectives of the advertising to the director’s vision and shooting board, casting, wardrobe, hair and make-up, set/locations, props, product/packages, editorial versions, schedules, and more. 

Ideally, the PPM will be held at least two days before the start of the shoot – that buffer time allows the production team to handle any changes coming out of the PPM discussion.  If you have to hold the PPM the day before the shoot, insist on a pre-PPM by phone/web meeting to cover the longer lead-time items in advance, such as casting and location/set design.

If you have to choose between attending the PPM and the shoot – go to the PPM because that’s where the key decisions are made, and hopefully the shoot will merely be a smooth execution of the plan.  While it’s possible to make changes on set, only do so if absolutely necessary, as the checkbook is “open,” and the clock will likely be ticking at the rate of hundreds of dollars per minute. 

It’s essential that all the production elements are thoroughly discussed at the PPM and that everyone is clear and aligned on the decisions.  Although new/interesting ideas may come up during the PPM, ask if there are any cost ramifications before saying “yes.”  Ensure that the team will first shoot the board or layout you and your management approved, new twists might be covered if there is time.  Don’t leave the PPM until you’re completely satisfied.  Remember, it can be helpful to have an objective expert opinion to provide a POV on anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.  This is a role our Production Consultants often fulfill. 

For a copy of MRA’s Sample Pre-Production Meeting Checklist or for an advance walk-through on what to expect at your upcoming PPM – contact your MRA production consultant.  We’re here to help.

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