A guide to being a commercials producer

John Golley is a freelance producer, with a raft of TV commercials, digital advertising, idents and corporate films under his belt.

He has worked with numerous ad agencies including Fallon, BBH, and Saatchi & Saatchi for brands as diverse as Lloyds, British Airways, Kellogg's, Barclays and the BBC.

Here John outlines for us his top tips for being a commercials producer, including avoiding the word 'no' and the importance of embracing technology.

  John Golley

1) Networking

The commercials business is a peoples' business. The more people you know, the better it is. It's a relatively small industry and you will find, as time goes by, that everyone is connected in some way, which makes introductions a relatively easy thing.

2) Make friends with the agencies

An agency producer or creative can be your biggest help. If a head of TV or an agency producer likes and trusts you, then that can pay dividends. These could be not just in terms of getting repeat work, but for providing contacts and referrals as well.

3) Create your own brand

We work with brands every day, but seem to ignore all that we learn from the corporate intelligentsia.See yourself as a brand and think: who is your market? What do they need, what do they like and what turns them off?

Every time you walk into work, put your brand cloak on and hang up any bits of negativity that your personal life may have forced upon you that morning.

4) Never say no

Producers are 'can do' people, and we all know that anything is possible. There are always problems and issues, time and money being the big two.

But equally, there are always solutions. And if something really can't be done, then let the person asking come to that conclusion themselves, but obviously with a little positive guidance from yourself.

5) Technology is our friend

Don't be a luddite. Now more than ever a producer needs to know how everything works. There are formats other than 35mm; there are HD cameras other than the Alexa that can create beautiful images and Avid is so advanced that it is more than capable of full HD online, with FX etc. With such a wide range of technology available, small budgets don't necessarily mean poor films.

6) Embrace all platforms

The thirty second ad is not the only form of advertising. If you don't embrace all platforms, you may as well quit the industry now.

7) Don't moan

We have the best job in the world. Agreed, sometime it's pressurised, but really, if you moan about doing this, what would you like be doing instead?


The Knowledge would like to thank John for his insight and industry expertise. You can view his Knowledge profile here.

Have you worked in commercials production? Do any of these pointers ring a bell with you? Let us know via our Facebook page.