Koala Video Production | #BehindtheAds with Clearcast Copy Group Executive Jonathan Laury
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This month we’re #BehindtheAds with Clearcast Copy Executive Jonathan Laury – the guy that clears your ads for you!
Ever wondered what happens with your script once it’s agreed by your team and sent off into the ether? Before we can get cracking and bring your brand story to life, your script has a long journey ahead of it, as it’s put through its paces at Clearcast.

Once we get the nod from Clearcast that all is approved, we can then start pulling the components of the ad together, creating visuals, recording voiceovers and tweaking to perfection.

Once this is all finished, ads then have to go back to Clearcast for another once over, to check all complies with the UK code of broadcast advertising, and to ensure ads aren’t “misleading, harmful or offensive.”
Read our interview with the man behind the scenes to find out more.

Q) What is a Copy Group Executive?
A) It’s someone who helps get ads on air (and stay there!) by ensuring TV advertising copy complies with the BCAP code and precedents set by ASA rulings. It’s also someone who loves a good jingle. We each have a portfolio of agencies to look after, and review all scripts and supporting evidence for claims for every ad those agencies produce. Once the ad has been made we then review the video and make sure there are no surprises before letting the broadcasters know it’s ok to air.

Q) How many ads do you watch in a day?
A) Anywhere between 40 and 150 back to back in the morning viewing meeting (seriously, a good jingle really sticks out!), then it depends how many come in through my agencies during the course of the day. Sometimes it’ll be a script-heavy day and no new videos come in, other days there’ll be edit after edit to watch – sometimes brand new visuals, other times minor additions to existing ads.

Q) What’s your typical day at work?
A) When I get in I check for urgent issues that have cropped up overnight and deal with what I can. At 10 o’clock every day all of the copy team goes into the morning viewing meeting where we watch all the ads that came in the previous day. This helps keep us all consistent across the board and leads to some lively debate about contentious issues which we usually reso lve with a show of hands. If I have a particularly thorny problem I’ll attend the policy and copy meeting directly after the viewing, having sent a briefing round to the managers the day before, and put forward the agency’s argument. Then it’s back to my desk to let my contacts know of anything that cropped up on their ads in the viewing, or to resume work on my inbox. I’ll take a look at the next script in my queue, draft my comments and send it to a colleague for a look – every script gets at least two pairs of eyes on it. Once I’ve had the script back from my colleague I’ll pass our combined verdict back to the agency, or approve the script if we’re happy. That’s the order of business for the rest of the day, too infrequently broken up by being taken out to lunch by my contacts (ahem hem).

Q) What is the best thing about your role?
A) Apart from the jingles, you mean? A couple of things really stand out or me – the variety of the work; you never know what’s going to come in next. I look at ads for massive global brands and for individual shops, for medicines, cars and furniture. There’s endless variety, both in the products and in the creative approaches which constantly keeps me interested. The role is also very team-focussed. Decisions are taken on consensus and when debates start to rage back and forth things can get very lively.

Q) The most challenging?
A) Looking at submissions in the detail we need to takes time, especially given the volume of work. If substantiation for claims isn’t supplied with a script or is uploaded in a higgledy-piggeldy way it can slow the process right down, but advertisers want faster and faster feedback. This puts the agencies in a difficult position and can sometimes lead to us being chased for feedback when things simply need time to go through the process. It’s counterintuitive, as the more time I have to spend on the phone explaining the process, the less time I have to look at the actual submissions in question.

Q) What’s the strangest BCAP rule you can think of?cap-broadcast
A) It’s not a BCAP rule, but certain things trigger a note to broadcasters to let them know of content they may want to schedule sensitively. It’s always an interesting one when we get to use the ‘Features Nazi footage’ code.

Q) What’s one of the most peculiar issues you’ve come across whilst clearing an ad?
A) Sadly I can’t go into any of the really peculiar ones because they never aired – and we take confidentiality very seriously at Clearcast. But I’m often reminded what a silly job I have when we’re taking a consensus show of hands on how much side-boob can be shown before attracting a timing restriction, or whether a rude word is ‘ex-kids’ (not to be shown around kids’ programmes) rude or ‘post 9pm’ rude.

Q) Do the rules grow and change to reflect the market?
A) We have to follow the BCAP code, ASA rulings and other regulations. If a ruling comes in that means something we felt was acceptable is no longer acceptable or needs further qualification then it’ll have to be applied across the board. Similarly public opinion shifts, meaning ads which wouldn’t have caused offence a few years ago could now cause offence, and vice-versa. It’s one of the most interesting aspects of both the job and the industry.

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