Ed Rivero, managing director of Los Angeles production company Cortez Brothers, has worked in advertising for more than 20 years and witnessed many changes in the industry, including the way production companies their services. When Rivero started his career, production companies recorded show reels onto ¾-inch videotapes. They were time-consuming to prepare, awkward to manage and expensive to ship. “We would edit them once a quarter,” he recalled. “They were our calling cards.”
About a decade ago, editing platforms started to shift from tape machines to computers. Production companies recorded reels onto DVDs, which were easier to produce, store and ship. However, spots were presented in a fixed, predetermined order and sharing a reel with an ad agency or colleague meant shipping a DVD.
Since 2010, Cortez Brothers has been using Simian to build show reels, manage marketing efforts and drive production workflow. Simian allows Rivero and his staff to quickly build reels using a few simple software tools and email them to advertising agencies, producers and other recipients. The process is virtually instantaneous and so easy that custom reels can be built to suit the tastes of particular ad agencies and the needs of individual project pitches.
Simian has allowed Rivero to keep up with the ad industry’s ever-accelerating pace. “Deadlines have gotten to be so short,” he explained. “I may get a call and have to send out a reel in 10 minutes. If I’m three minutes late, we could lose the job. The speed is astounding. Where we used to send out five or six reels per week; we now send out 25 or 30 each day.”
Simian includes analytic tools, so Cortez Brothers gets detailed feedback on reels they send out. They can immediately tell, not only if a client has received a reel, but if he watched it and how many times, if he shared it with others, and so on. Using Simian’s groundbreaking, new heat maps feature, it’s now possible to tell if a recipient watched a particular scene in a commercial multiple times, or if he only watched half then turned it off.
“We can immediately gauge reaction to our work,” Rivero said. “Did they watch the whole reel? If they only watched a couple of spots, I know that I may need to change something.” Simian can evaluate not only the effectiveness of his sales effort, but also the performance of the directors on his staff. If a director’s work is not getting traction with agency creatives, it may be time to rethink the way he is marketed.
Rivero said Simian is helping Cortez Brothers to be more productive; a crucial benefit in a time of short deadlines and intense competition. “We have a smaller staff than we did 10 years ago, but we are a 100 times more efficient,” he asserts. He adds that Simian is also a big cost saver. 10 years ago, Cortez Brothers’ FedEx expenditures topped $35,000, annually. Today, it’s less than one-fourth that figure.
A lot has changed since the days of the ¾-inch videotape. Simian has transformed the way Cortez Brothers markets itself and Rivero expects his sales program to continue to improve as Simian adds new features and services. “They keep pushing the envelope,” he said. “Simian is getting better and better.”