Transitioning Rockbrook Village TV into HD
This past July we kicked off the first Rocbkrook Village quarterly TV campaign in high-def. With HDTV having become more prevalent for at least the past five years, why did it take so long to put our shopping center client’s TV commercials into high-definition? To adequately answer that question requires an understanding of the unique nature of Rockbrook Village. This is the largest shopping center in Omaha made entirely of locally-owned businesses–all 65 of them! For the exception of a few merchants, Rockbrook Village is their one and only location–and often, you’ll walk into a store and be waited on by the owner. Even the shopping center itself is locally-owned with management right on site.
Another distinctive feature of Rockbrook Village is a well-functioning merchant association that uses their budget to subsidize the shopping center’s television and radio campaigns. A merchant pays additional to participate in each quarterly campaign, but their portion is more than abundantly matched by the merchant association subsidy.
Vamonos Marketing has been working with Rockbrook Village since 2007. A few years into our relationship, the merchant association decided to go beyond doing a November & December holiday campaign once a year, to doing quarterly TV campaigns throughout they year. Vamonos proposed that each participating quarterly merchant receive their own 10-second commercial, paired with another merchant 10-second ad, both within the opening and closing 5-seconds belonging to Rockbrook Village. The beauty of this format is that the merchant never needs to mention Rockbrook Village in their ad because the shopping center is branded with location at the beginning and end of the 30-second commercial.
Cox Media has handled the video production for Rockbrook Village long before Vamonos came in the scene. Over the years they amassed quite an archive of video footage of the merchants at the shopping center. However, when we decided to move to a 10-second format we realized we needed more current footage of the store and merchandise. So we scheduled video shoots at many stores to produce the format of commercials.
For a small merchant, a video shoot in their business can be exciting and quite an inconvenience at the same time. We come into typically a crowded space with lights and camera, practically rearrange the store to get the very best shots while asking the merchant to get friends and family over for the shoot to play customers shopping, dining or interacting with each other. It’s usually a two hour process just to get five to six great video shots we can use in the merchant’s commercial! And that’s without using microphones as the commercial audio is music and scripted voice-over. Because we’re fortunate to have such an excellent veteran producer at Cox Media, the end result looks great! In fact, the merchants often like their 10-second ad so much that we end up using it again and again… year after year. Every time they commit to a new quarter we ask the merchant about new production and the usual response is, “Just run what we have.” The producer and I have a running joke that the cute little girl we shot years ago eating cake in the restaurant has now graduated from college. OK, that’s an exaggeration… but not much!
In 2009, Cox Media Omaha received their first HD cameras. From that point any new merchants opening at Rockbrook Village, participating in the TV campaign, were shot in high def. The footage looked fantastic! But in the Rockbrook Village commercials, putting a new merchant in high definition next to an older merchant shot in standard definition didn’t look that good. It was necessary to conform all new footage to standard def for the final commercial. We couldn’t take advantage of the new technology to showcase the shopping center in beautiful HD commercials.
By 2012 we were getting enough new footage in HD that we had to make serious plans to re-shoot all the holdout merchants in standard def. Our conversion goal to HD was 2nd Quarter 2013. While we can set a goal and strongly encourage, we can’t force these merchants to do anything. They’re all individual owners with personalities, strengths, pressures and agendas of their own. Even with the progress we made by late March there were still merchants that for some excuse….errr, reason or other, we couldn’t get into for a re-shoot. As soon as the 2nd Quarter TV campaign hit the airwaves we began scheduling the remaining merchants for HD shoots. Even then, it came down to a marathon effort that first half of July to complete five re-shoots before our 3rd Quarter TV target start date of July 26. But we accomplished getting all the footage we needed in high def, making for one happy producer to complete all the final 3rd Quarter campaign ads in HD.
Below are two TV commercial samples–the first ad in standard definition and the other in high definition. They just so happen to feature the same two merchants–a restaurant and wine store/lounge. Both ads are good in terms of content and delivery. The difference is the wider content area as well as higher visual detail. You’ll notice in the standard definition ad, the restaurant is promoting a new lunch menu. We came out to shoot the menu dishes in high definition. But in the final ad we had to resort to letter boxing the HD footage–which means making it narrower to fit on the screen, which is why there is a black area below and above that footage. We accommodated the merchant but as you can see it’s a bit of a distraction to switch between SD and HD formats. It’s so much nicer when all the footage is high def!
Rockbrook Village Merchant :30 TV commercial with Corkscrew Wine & Cheese and Garden Cafe 1st Quarter 2012 in Standard Definition format
Rockbrook Village Merchant :30 TV commercial with Garden Cafe and Corkscrew Wine & Cheese 3rd Quarter 2013 in High Definition format