New Company Re-Sells Ad Industry's Cast Off Commercials

Just like the movie business, in the ad business there are miles and miles of footage that never see the light of the television screen in the form of a commercial. Whether it's due to a shift in strategy which renders a commercial off target or the commercial itself, upon initial viewing, is to racy for the client's taste, there's a lot of un-used TV commercials looking for clients.

Kevin Schaff has turned that pile of un-used commercials into a business called Thought Equity. Schaff buys un-used or old completed commercials from advertisers, wipes any reference to brand, and resells them to other advertisers at greatly reduced prices. This business model has allowed many smaller advertisers to "produce" commercials that were previously prohibitively expensive.

Schaff bought a TV ad from the Atlanta Ballet that showed two guys Kung Fu fighting which the Ballet found too racy for use and resold it to WyoTech, an auto repair school.

Kung Fu opens with two guys slouched in front of the TV. A commercial comes on and they're up and doing their own Jackie Chan riff, in slow motion, complete with sound effects. It ends when one guy leaps over the other, lands on the coffee table, which crashes to the floor.

"Too much free time?" says the voice over. "Go see the ballet."

The new version: "Everyone has skills. Some earn money. Enroll at WyoTech."

The cable sales industry has, after years of producing crappy $500 commercials, jumped on this and become a big customer of Thought Equity.

"To have the ability to go in and from an initial meeting with clients, talk concept and show something that may fit them is an awesome tool to have," said Comcast salesman Dave McGrath. "The basic guts of the ad stays as is, and we go ahead and tag it and put in licensed music beds, and we're off to the races."

It all sounds well and good until we start seeing the same ad pop up over and over but with different company names on it. All in all, it's an admirable approach in that it allows smaller advertisers to avoid the obscenely high production costs that go along with producing a quality television spot.

Thanks to Adrants reader Ethan for pointing to this story.

UPDATE: Adrants reader Klipp Knockee clarifies writing, "The idea is not so new and Thought Equity actually purchased a web based company called that acquired the majority of the content. Admine crashed and burned in the dotcom shake up and Thought Equity came in and bought the assets from the investors. There are several players in this syndication arena including a company called ProAd Group that actually sets up franchise type advertising agencies and reuses creative in different DMAs."

by Steve Hall    Nov-24-03   Click to Comment   

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