I was reading some recent VFX PR and it touched a nerve. It was an article about how Company X was using the cloud and therefore better. One person (the founder) is named, then dozens of different technologies are listed and detailed.
I know it’s standard marketing to differentiate yourself from others1, but VFX is a one-trick-pony. Every single piece of PR is “we used some special piece of tech that ONLY WE have”.
Even Cinefex stopped being remotely interesting once the digital age fully took over. Nobody wants to read five thousand words that say, “we did it in Maya.”
Am I wrong here? I know PR isn’t exactly high art and it’s sent out to websites nobody reads, but I also feel like it’s a missed opportunity.
1. The Mill once held a week-long marketing symposium and no one had an answer when pressed to describe what made the Mill different from Framestore, MPC, and, Method.
Any article about the new technology Company X is using just makes me think… ok they were there first but that means they dealt with all the bugs. It’s not like other companies can’t use that technology if it’s proven to be worthwhile.
The other VFX PR I see is how the company is doing something faster or cheaper. Great… let’s all just race to the bottom aye?
Right, but is it good marketing? Is it the best approach?
Your Lenovo deal is different. It benefits you financially and because it displays you as someone important enough that Lenovo would pay you. It benefits Lenovo because they sell computers to people like us.
VFX PR sounds like they sell computers too, but they don’t.
The thing is… we’re not the target audience. The target audience will jump at: ‘cloud’/ ‘collaborative’/ ‘efficiency’/ ‘The Metaverse’ / ‘Realtime Technology’ / ‘AI’ … …etc… etc…
I hated the PR BS back when… but it works… but I still hate it…
Also, let me be clear, this is not about the company or the people that work there. It’s not a question of the caliber of their talent or the work they do.
It’s a question of “is this the best way to sell vfx?” Could we do better? Should we move away from “we have lots of tech stuff” as the main pitch?
I think companies shy away from the talent-centric approach for fear that any promoted individual will quit and start a competing shop. I always felt the Mill believed this, which is funny given it was started by two guys who left Rushes, and doubly funny when you consider how many top tier shops have been built by ex-Mill people.
to me it shouldn’t be about the tech but about the artists similar to how ever other film dept does it you don’t higher a DP or a colorist because they are using the latest tech you higher them based on the caliber of work they do but certain companies try and make the company the hero thus stripping the artist value out of the artist and placing it on the company but that’s just my two cents for what its worth.
This is very true. That’s actually what I always ‘envied’ about The Mill. When talking to agencies/ prod companies… they never mentioned a specific artist, just “The Mill”… as a brand that guarantees excellent VFX/ Creative production. I still believe that is the way to go for a shop… because also, making it just about the artist bypasses many people that enable the artists to excel… (and not be distracted by 1028084 things… )
But yeah… PR for a studio is hard… as it’s very hard to find a unique selling point when we’re all essentially doing the same thing. 3D, but maybe better… 2D, but possibly better… our coffee is from another planet!..
Haha yes, “digital”. Suddenly every shop on the planet was trying to add the word to their shop’s name. Some less awkwardly than others.
Or you could be Modern Videofilm, which are about the three words that most say “dated” — and simply not change anything. I’m not saying that’s why they went out of business, but it wasn’t the most agile PR in my opinion.