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Ukrainian television commercials - like natural gas, caviar and soap operas - are mostly imports from elsewhere.
Microscopic company advertising budgets, crude production facilities and the fact that many of the products being advertised are themselves imports are just some of the reasons for that. It's much easier - and much cheaper - for multinational companies to simply translate ads made elsewhere.
'It is a big financial putoff for a company to shoot a local commercial,' said Miche Verney, Provid/BBD Creative Consultant. 'It requires the company to send, on average, three ad agency employees and a client's representative to the shooting site.'
It costs approximately $40,000 to make a high-quality local commercial. So McDonald's and others use ads made elsewhere.
'The head office of McDonald's-Ukraine is situated in Vienna,' said Oleksandr Pavlovsky, the director of ad agency GGK-Ukraine, which handles the McDonald's-Ukraine account. 'It explains, in part, why commercials are made in Austria. Nevertheless, commercial producers try to take into account East European culture and lifestyle. In addition, the Ukrainian office is free to choose a musical background against which the product is advertised. McDonald's is thinking over the option of making local commercials.'
Cost isn't the only reason multinationals elect to make ads elsewhere. With capable TV-advertisement producers in short supply in Ukraine, quality is also a factor.
'The competition among producers of local commercials is not very tight,' said Ihor Ostrokov, the director of the advertising department at TV station Novy Kanal. 'Some Ukrainian producers tend to work for a few ad agencies. So the client does not have many options as to the choice of the producer when it comes to shooting a local commercial. As a result, producers are not motivated enough to generate new ideas.'
Ukrainian ad people of course dispute that claim, but do not deny that companies often have a low image of the quality of their work. And most don't deny that there are significant drawbacks to making ads in Ukraine - perhaps only natural in a country where the advertising industry is still in its infancy.
One drawback is that Ukrainian actors, while talented, are not made for making ads.
'I have recently come back from Poland where a commercial for Ukrainian, Russian and Polish audience was made,' said Roman Strateychuk, the creative director at GGK-Ukraine. 'The script-writers were Ukrainian. However, the actors were Polish. Ukrainian actors, raised under the influence of Stanislavsky school, tend to be too profuse in their expressing of emotions. Besides, the conditions for shooting a commercial were much better in Poland than in Ukraine.'
Verney says the main shortcoming with some Ukrainian-made commercials is that they end up being too information-heavy.
'The advertiser tries to put too much into it,' Verney said. 'It is more effective to find what is unique about the product and blow it up. Simplicity is also very important.'
Verney said that successful Western commercials, unlike Ukrainian commercials, tend to be visually oriented.
Verney suggests a number of steps by which Ukrainian producers could both increase the quality and decrease the costs of producing ads in Ukraine.
One such step is to bring in professional commercial makers from Eastern Europe - Poland or the Czech Republic. Verney adds that sending local producers and creative directors to the West can also enhance their professional growth and, thus, improve the quality of Ukrainian commercials.