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Ultimate Guide for International Advertisers: TV Commercial Production Services in USA for Celebrity Endorsement Campaigns

June 9, 2024
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As  one of the top TV commercial production companies NYC we have been offering TV commercial production services in USA for over 15 years, working with clients from Austria, Hungary, India, China, and Australia. For our international clients, producing TV commercials in the US is a seamless experience with our expert production team. We have, as they say, seen it all, and we are here to share some tips to help international clients save time, money, and make this brand investment project easy as can be when shooting celebrity endorsement campaigns in New York. Here are four of our top tips!

Avoid Talent Middlemen: Go Directly to the Talent Agency of Record

Storytime : In 2022 we were tapped to shoot a campaign for a very famous confectionery brand that was distributed solely in the Middle East – UAE, Kuwait, Qatar. The client wanted a very famous reality TV mother and daughter duo. Their reality shows were a hit in the region, and together with the client our tv commercial production company had written some very witty scripts poking some fun at reality tv stars in ways that we believed that the stars and their agents would find amusing. A dash of self-deprecation can always get a chuckle from the audience, so why not ? The clients were still in the process of negotiating with the stars and their agents, but no confirmation on the scripts was forthcoming.

When days turned into weeks, we inquired about the status and asked additional questions. The client shared that the talent agency was not responding. We asked whom they were in touch with at the agency, we knew who represented the star. Surprisingly, we were informed that a different agency was representing the mother and daughter duo. A bit of digging and it turned out that the team was not dealing with the actual agent on record, but a middle man, who was then brokering the deal with the actual agency. Due to middleman fees, the talent fees were significantly higher than usual, approximately 30% above the standard rates. The negotiation between the middleman and  the talent agency authorized to represent the reality TV actors was what was delaying the approval of the script.

The moral of the story: always deal directly with the licensed talent agency of record. Most of the top TV, film, and sports talents in the US are represented by agencies such as CAA, UTA, ICM, Endeavor, and Gersh. For example, CAA’s talent roster includes Arianna Grande, Beyonce, Dua Lipa.

If you have any questions about which artist is represented by which agency or are unsure whether you are dealing with a registered and authorized agent or a middleman, the simplest approach is to ask directly: ‘Are you a registered agent for the talent, or are you a broker? Talent agencies in New York and California must be licensed by the State, and asking outright will usually have the agent or the broker clarify their role in the deal. Whilst maintaining courtesy, ask for proof that the person is authorized by the State to act as an agent, and request further proof that they are the agency of record for the talent. If you discover that you are dealing with an unlicensed broker, you may want to reconsider the entire deal or hire legal counsel to advise you how to proceed.

In entertainment case law, the Courts have voided contracts that were negotiated with unlicensed talent “brokers,” a good example being the case in California in Solis vs Blancarte. In the Blancarte case, the California Court wrote :

When a person contracts to act as a talent agent without first having obtained a talent agency license as required by the TAA, the contract that has been entered into is illegal, void, and unenforceable. “Since the clear object of the Act is to prevent improper persons from becoming [talent agents] and to regulate such activity for the protection of the public, a contract between an unlicensed [talent agent] and an artist is void.” (Buchwald v. Superior Court (1967) 254 Cal.App. 2d 347, 351.).

The Entertainment Committee of The New York City Bar  has confirmed that the California and New York laws are very similar on the issue, and similar rulings in New York such as the one in Solis are possible.

As such, there are issues to be had if you as a client are working with an unlicensed talent agency for the procurement of talent, with outright danger being that the contract you enter into with the unlicensed talent agent may have, at the very least, some clauses that may be void, or, at the worst, render the whole contract void, putting your TV commercial campaign into an imbroglio. If you are still unsure, do feel free to contact us, and we will research on your behalf on who is the right  talent agency for the talent you are looking for in your campaign as well as put you in touch with a New York entertainment attorney to advise you appropriately.

Understanding Talent Time Commitments: 10 Hours Door to Door

Typically, most TV, film, and sports stars offer 10 hours from pick-up to return, including travel time, for TV commercial production services in USA. Interpreted, this means that from the time our chauffeur picks them up from their residence to the time when they are back, the net hours have to be 10, including travel time. The challenge lies in that most of our New York-based talents do live in the outskirts of the city, and travel to and from the TV set may be 1 – 2 hours into the city. That leaves about 6 – 8 hours for the actual time they are on set; grooming, wardrobe and make-up on and off would take another 2 hours, lunch is another 45 minutes. As such, international clients find out that in essence, the contract talent is in front of the camera for about  4 – 5 hours.

To work around this and reduce travel time, consider booking the talent and their agency into an ultra-luxury hotel near the production set for the night before the shoot. As such, if we are filming in Midtown, we always recommend our international clients to offer a suite at The Aman for the talent. It is a lovely gesture, and the hotel has superior client service to make sure that talent feels absolute at home. In the morning of the shoot, the travel to set is a mere 10 minutes instead of two hours, and you are assured that your talent arrives fresh, well-rested for the cameras. Indeed, you get more honey with flowers …

Utilize Body Doubles : Efficient Filming TV Commercial Production Services in USA

Because of the industry’s standards on talent hours, the industry has also developed a very practical solution to make sure that you as a client get all the time for the commercial : the body double. Almost every major talent has a body double, and you just need to ask the talent agency if there is a body double available. Most likely, the answer would be yes. The body double is useful for filming all the shots where the star’s presence isn’t required, but someone who closely resembles the star is needed. Such shots might include behind-the-back views, scenes where the actor is framed by darkness or shadows, or shots featuring only hands or legs. The body double usually looks so close to the real star that we have sometimes been confused as to who is who; it is uncanny. The body double would usually shoot a day before or after the actual star films their takes, and we would then shoot with them the “coverage” shots – the shadow shots, hand shots etc. It’s an extremely efficient film trick, and 99.99% of the time, your audience will never notice.

The Benefits of  Full-Service TV Commercial Production Services in USA

There are two options for you as a client to take with your campaign : you can hire an advertising agency, which will then create the script, and the ad agency will then hire a production company to do the actual film production of the campaign. The ad agency will charge a minimum of six figures (in US dollars) for the script, and then charge “oversight” fees for them to oversee the production company. You may pay about 200,000 – 500,000 in agency fees on top of the production costs.

The other solution is to work with a full service TV commercial production companies NYC which will deliver both script and TV commercial production services for you, saving time and money.

Ready to shoot your next TV commercial in New York? Contact us at production@sinematic.tv to learn more about our expert services. Let us help you create a memorable and successful campaign.