Tom’s been with JMS since 2000. He’s now officially part of the furniture. Tom has completed the production of several thousand TV and video projects. Versed in all aspects of TV advertising production, his eagle-eyes are across all our creative pitches.
How did you end up as Production Director of JMS?
Nepotism and family connections.
But honestly, we’re a family business. I was only a year old when JMS opened its studio for business in 1983. The business is one of my siblings, I’m insanely protective of it.
I was fiddling around in the studios and editing quarter-inch tape with a razor blade when I was still at primary school. But it was my fascination with 80’s kids’ TV show Knightmare (created by Broadsword, a fellow Norwich production company) that poured fuel on my interest in television production.
My first taste of the industry was in 1994 as a runner (I was 12) on a shoot for combine harvester manufacturer Claas, made more interesting because the video was shot and edited in German.
I then went on the flunk my A-Levels, getting a Grade E in Media Studies (yeah, I’m aware of the irony) before joining the ‘family firm’ in July 2000. I was editing from day one.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There really isn’t a typical day. That’s what I love. That’s what maintains my boundless enthusiasm. I’m twenty years in, and every morning feels like a fresh start. Some days I’ll be editing a TV commercial, other days I’ll be doing layout and copywriting on pitches. This morning I stepped in at short notice to operate the teleprompter for a client shoot.
What are you currently working on?
I’m editing an internal training video for a long-term returning client. By its nature our TV commercial work is highly visible, but there is a whole raft of other projects keeping us busy that will never be seen outside the client’s business.
How do you approach a creative brief? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I could write a sitcom based on our team’s creative meetings! We congregate to bounce ideas around, nothing is off the table, it always gets messy. Some of the ideas we come up with are crazy, hilarious stuff. But, there’s always something within the madness that acts as a jumping-off point for a handful of workable ideas. The inspiration doesn’t really come from anywhere, it’s more a case of having so many uncensored ideas that at the end of the session we’ve got some decent concepts on the pile.
What has been your favourite project to date?
I’ve been across several thousand projects, enough for me to have forgotten my involvement in many of them! This is a lame answer, but I’m so proud of the simplest of projects that have performed ridiculously well. For instance, when a client supplies us with no more the artwork from their press ad and a couple of pack shots. An inauspicious kit of parts, yet the TV ad we make from those assets will be the lynchpin of their campaign – and it works, it delivers the goods. Big budgets aren’t always required for big results… we’re the masters of making something from nothing!
What has been your most challenging project and how did you overcome it?
Most challenging? I’ve had countless challenging gigs. Videos for conferences are usually tough; every video I’ve done has been in production right up to the eleventh hour. Many years back we did the annual conference videos for a large retail chain – all the sales figures, new product launches, and price promotions weren’t compiled until the very last minute. One year we pulled an all-nighter and were recording the videotape master at dawn while a courier waited in reception to rush it to the conference. Gets the adrenaline flowing!
You are a very active commentator on broadcast advertising, what does the future look like for this medium? Has advertising changed much in recent years?
The future of TV is addressable. 100% addressable and targeted to households, tailored to the very finest detail.
Modern televisions are part of the ‘Internet of Things’. If your telly – or any kind of attached viewing box – is connected to a router there is a return path to send information back to broadcasters, and in turn to advertisers. TV advertising now bears a striking similarity to Pay Per Click – to Google Ads.
When I was fresh to the business our clients could target TV campaigns using four pretty broad variables – the channels they wanted to be on, the chunks of regions those channels could broadcast to, the time of the day, and demographic of each programme’s audience. It was broadcasting in the most literal sense – BROAD! Television was a heavyweight, yet blunt, tool. Ideal for big-spenders to reach huge audiences with mass-appeal products and services, but largely out of reach for smaller advertisers. A sledgehammer to crack a nut.
It’s nothing like that now, it’s unrecognisable, any business can reach its audience with TV.
Are there any future trends that advertisers should be implementing?
From a strategic point of view, the increasing regulation on how all our data is used (GDPR, the death of third-party cookies, and more sophisticated ad-blockers) has meant quite a sizeable chunk of information available to online marketers has gone dark. The waters of digital marketing are muddy. Subscription TV services have already gained the consent and trust of their viewers, and advertisers need to take advantage of those platforms. The data is clean. As Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of advertising behemoth Ogilvy Group has stated “Public promises carry more weight: hence why the words ‘as seen on TV’ are more convincing than ‘as seen on Facebook.”
What skills would one need to develop to succeed in your role?
Be versatile in the application of your creative skills, video takes a lot of forms these days – it’s not all artistic filmmaking. Appreciate the client’s business, I mean really appreciate it, it matters greatly that you care about their company and make your input work for them – it’s not about you! Lastly, accept critique gracefully. Everything you do will have its fans and its detractors, that’s the nature of creative work.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Variety. I find routine rather a bore.
Tom Vaughan-Mountford is the Production Director of JMS Group, a Norwich video production agency specialising in direct response television campaigns and video ads for social media. You can connect with Tom on Linked in