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  • Danish M

What comes first? Budget or Creative?

Tell me if this sounds familiar?

Client – Here’s a brief for a video we need soon as part of our campaign.

Agency – Sweet! What’s the budget?

Client – We’re not sure yet. Why don’t you guys put a concept together and we’ll take it from there

Agency – Sighs out loud…



One of the major challenges creative shops face is getting briefs from clients without budgets. This is particularly challenging when it’s a video production because creative possibilities are unlimited and budgets will reflect those choices.


So what do you when the brief is to “knock it out of the park” but with no real clue on what they want to spend? Typically, my experience has been that agencies will brainstorm and put together some pretty amazing ideas, the clients will go “wow!” and the grand budget reveal will be that they don’t have nearly enough money to execute.


Creatives have to water down the idea, and the original “Zing!” it had gets flushed down the drain.


I’m not going to give you the obvious solution to this, which is to insist the client gives a budget with every brief. This is the world we live in. I am going to find a few solutions for you the next time it happens:


1. If you have an in-house producer, get them on board with the creative team from the start. They have a wealth of experience working with different studios, are familiar with technique and technology and can guide the creatives with costs.

2. Call up your local friendly production house to discuss the brief with them openly. Give them historical spending patterns with the client. Ask them for a ball park budget to see if you’re on the right track.

3. If you’ve got your heart set on something you’ve seen that would be perfect for the client, bring the production house in, to discuss how the brief can accommodate the reference.


The biggest challenge with my solutions is that you have to initiate dialogue with a supplier without committing that there will be a job, or that they would be a good fit for that production. My advice, also let the production house know this from the get go. They will respect you for it and pick up your phone the next time you need help.

The Big Film Sdn Bhd. Malaysia.

WISMA BU8, L6-11

Bandar Utama, 47800, Selangor, Malaysia