Lights, Camera, Action! The Experts Behind the Screen

mjzIt’s that time of the year again. Friends and families are gathered around the big screen. Plates are full of Pinterest-inspired finger foods. Some are sporting their teams over-sized jersey and there’s eye black smeared on nearly every face. This can only mean one thing- SUPER BOWL!

If you asked the average American citizen about their favorite part of the Super Bowl, you might get answers like the half time show, the food or maybe even the game. If you asked me, I’d say that I tune in for the men in tight pants running around tackling each other. However, it comes as no surprise that a common Super Bowl favorite is the commercials. In fact, a survey conducted by market research company, Lab42, revealed that out of 500 respondents, “39 percent said that the commercials were their favorite part of the game while 28 percent said watching the football game was their primary interest” (Beltrone, 2013).

So what do we credit for making these commercial advertisements happen?  Even on days other than Super Bowl Sunday, what is responsible for creating those commercials you see while watching Scandal or Duck Dynasty or the Real House Wives of Atlanta? What do advertising agencies call on to bring their ads to life, you ask? Commercial production companies, of course, and standing out creatively among these countless production companies is MJZ.

What is MJZ?

 MJZ (Morton Jankel Zander, Inc.) is a “bi coastal/international commercial and music video production giant” (Weeks, n.d., para. 1). With its impressive roster of award winning directors and producers, it has been able to produce commercials for Coca- Cola, Volkswagen, Old Spice, Chevy, Nike, Levy’s, H&M, Gucci, Sony, Dove, Skittles andlogo other well-known brands (“Directors,” n.d.). Since it was founded in 1989 by its president, David Zander, and director, Rocky Morton, it has expanded outside of its headquarters in Los Angeles, California to bases in New York, New York as well as London, England (“MZJ Archives,” n.d.). MJZ is a part of the Grey Group, which is owned by WPP, one of the largest advertising and marketing companies in the world (Elliot, 2013, para. 14).


MJZ has three bases; one in Los Angeles, New York and London. Not including free-lancers, MJZ has an in-house staff about 25 people, which include high profile directors and producers. Some of these award-winning directors include Spike Jonze, Dante Ariola, Tom Kuntz and Joaquin Baca-Asay (“Directors,” n.d.). Free-lance workers might include editors, directors of photography and crew members.  The clients of MJZ own the products that it produces (D. Mach, personal communication, February 9, 2016).

Business Model?

With its A-List directors, MJZ has produced an impressive collection of commercials, music videos and short films, but it focuses mostly on producing commercials. Once MJZ has secured a project, it executes pre-production, production and post-production. Pre-production consists of planning and logistics to be figured out before shooting begins. A director or producer from MJZ meets with the client during this stage to secure the vision and iron out important details. Such details can include “budgeting, location scouting, licensing, and hiring…actors and extras. This process can be the most demanding of all” (Mall, 2014, para. 3). Production occurs when the scenes are actually being shot with the camera, lighting and sound equipment. Here, free-lance artists and workers are brought on board to execute the production workLastly, in post-production, the productionfootage is compiled together for a finished product. Graphics, “images, music, colour correction and special effects” can be applied during this step (Camp, 2013, para. 4).

MJZ has a world of competitors including Stink and B-Reel that deliver to multimedia platforms (Diaz, 2010, para. 11). MJZ has been able to stand out among these competitors by sticking to what they do best, commercial production, but also venturing out into music videos, short films and other projects.

Revenue Model?

Like many other production companies, MJZ goes through a bidding process to acquire most of its work. Bidding is when the agency presents a script or finalized idea to a select group of production companies. A production company may be chosen to bid for its past impressive work, or because it specializes in a certain area of production, or simply because someone at the company knows a guy who knows a guy.  The production companies will then figure out how much it will cost them to produce the project. The goal is to bid the lowest price while still ensuring a profit. Once the agency chooses the winning company, the production can begin. The price paid to the company varies and is determined per project (D. Mach, personal communication, February 9, 2016). In general, production costs for commercials can range anywhere between $2,000 and over $1,000,000 (Mall, 2014, para. 1). Since MJZ has a team of over 20 directors, it is able produce multiple projects a year, often at the same time, in order to ensure a steady income for the company.

Tell me more!

Remarkably so, MJZ has earned more “awards than any other commercial production company in the history of the industry” (Weeks, n.d., para. 1). Just to name a few, it has won the Palm d’Or, the highest prize at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for four different years since 2005, and named “Production Company of the Year” by Creativity Magazine and Boards Magazine for seven years in a row. The directors on the MJZ roster have been nominated and have won several Emmys, Clios and so many more honorable distinctions (Weeks, n.d., para 1,2).

Commercial production companies spend months on those 30-60 second commercials that superbowl-party1we consume nearly everyday. Thanks to companies like MJZ, advertising agencies are able to get its ads produced into a tangible form to then present to us, the viewers. So you see, without the hard work and dedication of the people behind the screen, our Super Bowl Sunday entertainment could be limited to the joys of a yelling match between two competing teams.


Beltrone, G. (2013). Ads Trump Football in Super Bowl Survey. AdWeek. Retrieved February 7, 2016, from

Camp, N. (2013). Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production Stages. The Video Effect. Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

Diaz, A. (2010). Creativity’s Production Company of the Year: MJZ. AdverisingAge. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from

Directors. (n.d.). MJZ. Retrieved February 06, 2016, from

Elliott, S. (2013). News From the Advertising Industry. NYTimes. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from

Mall, D. (2014). How Much Does a TV Commercial REALLY Cost? DM Films. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from

MJZ Archives – The Inspiration Room. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from

Weeks, M. David Zander Biography. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved February 06 2016, from

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