First post in the advertising atrocities series. Just a taste. True story.
A few years ago, my film company was asked to bid a job for an agency we'd worked with extensively in the past. The producer was young, new, ambitious, and wanted to make a mark for herself. She definitely made a mark with me.
They didn't have a whole lot of money. They had a very expensive idea. We thought the idea was a good one, though, so we let them know from the outset that we'd work with them on it. They were extremely grateful, and wanted to work with us, not only financially, but creatively, as well, to see what we could do to pull off the spots for the target number.
The bid process was long. Very long. Frequent meetings with the producer and the creatives, to re-structure the spots so they could be done for the budget -- and stay good. Bids in several foreign countries, to compare savings. We're talking a month or so, working pretty much every day, alongside the agency, to get the bid to hit the number. We did it.
They took it to the client, and, according to the producer, the number moved. It got lower.
More work, hand in hand with the producer, to bring it down. More countries considered as shoot locations. New target achieved.
Another client meeting, and according to the producer, another drop in numbers. At this point, the spots are looking un-doable. But one of the spots is a great idea. Would be good for the reel. Plus, we'd worked with the agency a lot in the past, so we felt like we had a mutually-beneficial relationship. There was reason to move the number again. So we did. But we didn't want to risk the quality of the spots. So the only way we could, in good faith, move the number lower, was to take out our profit. Long meetings. We decided to do it.
In a meeting with the producer, we explained that we were, in fact, able to hit her newest new low number, without compromising quality any more, and we showed her how. All of the hard production money was left in the budget -- only the markup (all the markup) was removed. There was still a director's fee, yes, but since I owned the company, that would have to serve as our profit. She was very happy, and thanked us.
She told us when the client meeting was scheduled. It came and went, and we heard nothing. Several days after, we recieved an email from her. It explained that they were very concerned about the cost of the spots (duh).
But what concerned her most was the fact that our numbers were so low. (wait...what?) They had elected to go with another production company, for much higher numbers. Oh, I get it.
We got punked.