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Best filming incentives for ad shoots

When countries introduce tax incentives for production, TV commercials are not usually a priority. As Cannes Lions 2016 gets underway, KFTV looks at the parts of the world that offer incentive support for the filming of commercial campaigns. 

Many parts of the world are primarily interested in attracting big-budget productions that can create jobs and encourage tourism, while commercials producers are also less influenced by incentives than their film and TV counterparts. Still, there are scenarios where introducing a commercials incentive is common sense.

Countries that are introducing a new film and TV incentive may decide to include commercials if they want to distinguish themselves from rivals. It’s possible that a producer or director who works across genres may be encouraged to come to your country to shoot a commercial and then return at a later date with a bigger project. Or they may go home and evangelise to their peers on your behalf.

Equally, countries that face challenges attracting major feature films may see commercials as an attractive alternative. The talent base in brand-based communications is superb and able to pass on its expertise to local partners. Nations that are able to get their volume of commercial production up into the hundreds a year certainly wouldn’t regret it. 

Major film and TV production hubs like Western Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada do not offer filming incentives for advertising campaigns, but here we take a look region by region at the availability of TV commercial incentives, exploring the terms on offer:

Filming incentives for commercials in the US


The US: Various states, Various incentives

The vast majority of US commercials are shot domestically, according to the Association of Independent Commercials Producers. Where incentives come into play is in encouraging commercials producers to switch from one state to another. 

One of the most high-profile programmes is in New York State which has been pursuing production work aggressively in recent years. One element of this is The New York State Commercial Tax Credit Programme, which provides credits of up to $7m a year “to qualified production companies that are principally engaged in and control the production of qualified commercials in New York State.” 

The $7m supports shooting commercials both downstate ($3m) and upstate ($3m), and those demonstrating incremental growth in production ($1m).

Other states that make a point of targeting commercials include Florida, which says “a minimum of $100,000 per commercial must be spent. A production company must spend at least $500,000 within one fiscal year to apply.” 

Georgia’s incentive application document says “televised commercial productions qualify for the 20% income tax credit if qualified expenditures by a single production company on one or more projects reach at least $500,000 in a single tax year.”

Other states with incentives applicable to commercials include Colorado ($250,000 minimum local spend, 50% of the workforce must be Colorado residents) and Hawaii ($200,000 minimum). There are also incentives in Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

All the incentives information can be found in our production guides of US States, which can be accessed here on KFTV. 

Eastern Europe/Central Asia: Isolated support

The Czech Republic and Hungary have attractive tax credit systems but these don’t extend to TV commercials. This is also true for most other Eastern European countries – but there are some signs that this situation is shifting. Serbia’s new 20% incentive, which launched in April 2016, covers all manner of production formats including commercials - with a minimum local spend of €100,000. 

Georgia has also included commercials in its new incentive (minimum spend $150,000 with the requirement that the end result air in at least three countries outside Georgia). Romania is planning to introduce a new incentive by the end of 2016, so it will be interesting to see if this also offers incentives to commercials. There are parallels here with the US, with lots of locations in close proximity trying to get the advantage.

Asia-Pacific: Malaysia and 'maybe' Thailand

Malaysia wants to position itself as the regional filming hub and to that end offers a 30% tax rebate for feature films, TV productions, documentaries, animations, post-production and TV commercials. The level of investment required by commercials producers is not specified, so should be discussed with the Film In Malaysia Office (FIMO). 

Thailand currently hosts around 300 commercial shoots a year and is planning on introducing incentives from next year in order to compete more effectively with Malaysia. But it’s not yet clear if commercials will be covered.


Middle East: Abu Dhabi Incentives

Twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media and creative industries hub, and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (part of twofour54), run the Middle East’s most attractive incentive scheme. The incentive, in the form of a rebate of up to 30% of qualifying spend in Abu Dhabi, is available for feature films, TV shows, documentaries, advertising and music video production. 

The fact that advertising is covered is an indicator that Abu Dhabi would like to win work from neighbouring Dubai – which has a longer track record in commercials but does not offer a formal support programme for films or TV shows. 

Latin America & Caribbean: Limited Incentives

Chile is a popular spot for commercials producers and is just introducing a new incentive, so it’s possible that commercial producers will benefit. If that happens, we may witness more Latin American countries start to follow suit.

Places worth investigating include the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago – all territories that have incentive schemes which cover commercial productions. Minimum spends typically come in the range of $100,000-$250,000.

Sony commercial filming still

Other Locations

Fiji offers a cash rebate for advertising productions of 47%. Mauritius has an attractive 30% incentives that covers commercials and a minimum spend of $30,000 is a relatively low threshold to achieve.

One issue producers need to be aware of when seeking commercials tax rebates is who the rebate actually belongs to. This issue has arisen in the US with the Association of National Advertisers claiming that rebates should revert to advertisers, but this is disputed by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.

If you are aware of any other incentive programmes for commercials producers please get in touch with us via email and let us know.

Will you be attending Cannes Lions this year? Drop us a line to meet up with our team and find out more about what KFTV can offer you.