This is a guest blog provided by Isaac Leung of Dubsat ( Be sure to check out the Dubsat blog ( for more posts dealing with improving the efficiency of advertising production.

The production of TV commercials naturally involves a lot of creative stakeholders. On the agency side, there might be the creatives and the production director. Then there are the account managers and of course, the client.

Difficulties arise when there are creative differences between stakeholders. Each person may have their own personal vision of what the finished commercial should look like. How do you manage the process, so the best ideas rise to the surface, and to reduce the risk of the commercial going “off-message”?

Balancing creative differences

Clients may have an idea of what the TVC should look like, but creatives, editors and production directors are the professionals here, and they may also have a say in the creative process.

Domineering clients can often be a problem as they micro-manage their way through production and post-production, relegating production staff and editors to the role of button-pushers or camera operators.

The first step in dealing with this situation is to manage your expectations by identifying the type of client you are dealing with. Did they come to you because of the results you deliver, or because they just need someone to execute their edit notes? If the client has a firm and non-negotiable idea about what they want, you might be better off biting the bullet and just executing the job according to their vision.

If they have sought you out because of the work and creative vision you deliver, the client may be more open to suggestions, giving you greater leeway for presenting your creative ideas and getting your voice heard during the production and post-production processes.

Manage control

In some cases, clients may be overly assertive because they fear losing control over the process. They may make creative decisions that you may know to be a bad idea, but then shut out any alternative proposals.

You will need to build up trust with the client first and establish common ground; this will encourage a sense of collaboration over the project.

Build trust and show that there is no conflict over control in the way you communicate. Frame your ideas as advice or a suggestion that you would like to try. Demonstrate that you are aligned with the goals and intended message of the project and have been thinking of ways to make it even better.

One way to get your idea across is to demonstrate using previous examples, or via the use of storyboards. During this process of demonstration, note their feedback to get a clearer idea of what they are trying to achieve.

How storyboards help with creative differences

Storyboards, when used during pre-production, can drastically enhance communications around creative differences. Storyboards help keep everyone on the same page, and eliminate the chance of misunderstandings. A creative stakeholder might describe a suburban town, but is there enough detail for everyone to “get” what her creative vision is? The client might be thinking of a tree-lined suburban street, while the production director might hear the description and see a run-down ghetto. Putting it down visually brings out the nuances of a vision, and helps to visually communicate ideas that might only have existed in someone’s imagination before.

Storyboards can also be used to explore different creative options – it is not unheard of for production directors and marketing clients to present multiple storyboards of their various ideas during the decision making stage. It’s a cost effective way to explore different idea directions and isolate the best ones.

Importantly, storyboards will unflinchingly show if an idea which may have sounded good, does not work, whether it is missing flow, or if it misses the entire objective of the commercial. In many cases, it will be obvious to all parties if an idea that does not translate visually onto a storyboard.

Finally, a storyboard helps with the exploration of production complexities and logistics early on in the process. For example, if the description of a scene requires a parking lot of vintage cars to work, the merits of that particular idea can also be informed by the logistical realities of sourcing those numbers of vintage cars.

In the end, clients have the final say: it is their ad (and their money) after all. So it’s important to respect your client’s decision. But the application of some basic client management strategies, and the use of communications tools like storyboards can go a long way in relieving the stress and awkwardness when it comes to creative differences in projects.

Dubsat ( is an international service provider offering media advertising and entertainment content to television stations, radio stations, outdoor digital display networks, magazine and newspaper publishers, and online publishers. Dubsat’s cutting-edge software and cloud services are closely integrated with its dedicated and ever-expanding international distribution network, helping advertisers meet any media schedule deadline

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