Chris Mundy joined Clearcast as managing director when it was founded in 2008. He joined from the BBC, where he was director of audiences, in charge of all its audience research across public service (licence-fee-funded) activities. He also sits on the board of Credos, the independent think-tank for advertising.
- What is Clearcast's mission?
We want to make it easier to get ads to air. It's a clear and focused remit that informs what we do and how we do it. We're a commercial company, wholly owned by the commercial broadcasters, and share their interest in getting ads to air. In 2011, 0.1% of the ads we saw were judged by the ASA to have breached advertising codes. This low figure shows the work we do protects brands and advertisers from negative publicity.
- What attracted you to Clearcast?
It was a unique opportunity to develop a company that is at the heart of the advertising industry; working with the team to set our vision and values, listen to our customers, look at our processes and, finally, develop our services into new areas. Four years on, we've made huge progress in those areas.
- You've been at Clearcast for four years, what are you proudest about?
I'm so pleased with the way the team has taken on responsibility for making Clearcast a company to be proud of, both in terms of making it a great place to work, and also improving the service that we provide.
That they have done this is borne out by our agency satisfaction surveys. For example, in 2008, 57% of our agency clients said that we served agencies well - this is now 74%.
That's a phenomenal improvement in a relatively short space of time, and given that we know that some people object to the principle of copy clearance, it's a very good performance.
I think the single biggest change is that we are more client-focused than we have ever been. No one should feel that they are banging their head against a wall when they are dealing with us, and if they do, I'd encourage them to get in touch with me or Niamh McGuinness, who heads the copy clearance team.
We are more accountable and our processes are much more transparent than ever; for example ISBA and the IPA are represented on our Copy Committee (the ultimate court of appeal for copy decisions), and we publish our KPIs on the website.
- One of the biggest complaints agencies have about Clearcast is the amount of time it takes to clear a commercial. How are you trying to address this?
Actually, our agency survey shows a majority of agencies feel turnaround times are good or excellent. However, it's true that it is the biggest area of concern.
The length of time it takes to clear an ad depends on several factors. An ad that is heavy in claims - for example, for a cosmetic - will take longer to clear than one promoting something like a tourist destination, because we will have to see the evidence for the claims, and often send them to a specialist consultant.
The most common reason for a slow clearance is claims that are made without supporting evidence; we'll always ask for this, so making sure a submission is properly supported will speed things up.
- What is Clearcast plus?
We've looked at where the most common issues arise in the copy chain and launched some services to help our customers address them. The Clearcast plus services are also a result of looking at how we can better help brands.
With TV advertising in reach of many more advertisers now, we have a dedicated person to support agencies that are new to TV advertising, or work with us so irregularly that it almost feels like the first time, every time.
We've launched a campaign planning service for advertisers and agencies that would like advice at the early stages of a campaign. It will help get the creative treatments right for contentious sectors or get guidance on a claim before the creative work starts. It will also be particularly useful when global copy needs to be reworked for the UK, when it contains claims or other problematic material that can't run here.
Our TV admin service will help advertisers and agencies who want to outsource their admin, or who need additional support. Working with us is an efficient way of ensuring they have all it takes to provide clear, timely communication and management of the clearance of copy and claims support, as well as delivery. We often hear from agencies about the stress of getting European clearances, and we can help with that, too.
Finally, our edit-to-clear service can undertake minor editing jobs, such as fixing legal supers that fail on duration of hold or font size. We will also do some smaller jobs on fixing ads that fail on flashing images, as well as clocking or re-clocking ads.
GEOFF RUSSELL, company secretary and director for media affairs, IPA:
'In the last few years, Clearcast has undergone a major transformation. Investment, clear management and better systems have brought out the best in the team. Although agencies and Clearcast will always have their differences, most of the old worries are now things of the past.'
BOB WOOTTON, director, ISBA:
'Clearcast has worked extremely hard to improve its systems, services and transparency. Perfection is hard to achieve, as advertisers and agencies will, rightly, continue to push for creative solutions, but we're heading in the right direction.'
CHRIS MUNDY'S TIPS FOR A SPEEDIER CLEARANCE
- Book yourself on a Clearcast training course - the better you understand why it works the way it does, the more time you'll save.
- If your ad contains claims, try to identify any claims in your script and submit any substantiation you have with the first version of your script.
- Take advantage of Clearcast's Meet the Consultants sessions; complicated claims can be discussed before a script is received.
- Allow enough time for your clearance; it is an integral part of the ad production process. If you are working to a particularly tight timescale, it is best to check your Clearcast contact can accommodate this. We strongly advise against committing to shoots without approved pre-production scripts.
GIVE YOUR ADS A FLYING START
- Claims acceptance help
- Pitch script advice
- TV admin and delivery
- Dedicated support for complex scripts