Reinventing the agency model for always-on production

Production shot of 'Uneasy Lies The Mind' by Detention Films.
Production shot of 'Uneasy Lies The Mind' by Detention Films.

For today's content creation, shops have to adopt a make-it-yourself mentality, says Deutsch's director of integrated production

There’s a misperception that creative agencies are big, slow and expensive when it comes to production. The reality is once we know the budget and our parameters, agencies can find a way to make branded content better than anyone. You simply have to adopt the make-it-yourself mentality.

The commercial-making industry isn’t changing that much. As agencies, we’re able to bring more value and efficiency to our clients with in-house production. What is changing are the requests from clients — they’re broader than ever. A brand’s constant need to post content to a their social channels creates this "always on" trend in marketing. This means multiple screens are now home to a brand’s message, and agencies must adapt to new models of distribution and expanding platforms. The quick turnaround content needed for social and digital platforms isn’t the type of work that commercial production houses would historically do. It needs to be executed and delivered in a more condensed timeframe than anyone has executed in the past.

Media platforms are building out native advertising and content studios, content studios are growing their marketing arms, ad agencies are building out production capabilities and production houses are becoming more full-service. It’s a race to the middle, and we’re all in it.

What has also changed in the advertising production community is the increased access to Hollywood talent, bringing an unparalleled level of craftsmanship to the advertising industry. Previously, talent was wrapped up in multi-year film productions, and as those productions went overseas, local talent went looking for other opportunities, lending their storytelling abilities to the advertising industry.

In postproduction, animation and VFX also went overseas, leaving local talent looking for other opportunities. Again, that’s great for agencies looking for talent with expertise in postproduction. They’re bringing craft to fast content. And as we generate more content as an industry than ever before, producers have become invaluable. They have a deep understanding of the stories brands are telling and know the best ways to bring those stories to life in new media.

The commoditization of technology is driving the development of the new agency model. Now that technology has democratized the production landscape, many specialties have become commodities. Media, software, and hardware have all contributed to the commoditized landscape, making high-quality production tech more accessible to everyone.

Yet, creative agencies continue to thrive. Why? Because creativity and talent will never be a commodity. You can’t download creativity like you can software, and you can’t sell it in a box on a shelf. It’s our bread and butter.

While platforms and publishers may be establishing direct relationships with brands, creative agency relationships with the production world are better than ever. We’re not at odds with production companies; we’re in the same boat. David Fincher and Errol Morris are never going to be employees at Deutsch, and for this and many other reasons, we’ll always need the expertise of the amazing production companies who bring world-class directors to our industry.

Exactly the way digital agencies were putting the pressure on traditional shops to reinvent themselves more than 10 years ago, the production world is being turned upside down now.

So, who’s going to thrive in the end? The creative agencies that recognize the need for evolution, and the marketers and partners that recognize the value in consistent, brand-led storytelling.

Everyone’s in the content business now, so you better start making things.

Vic Palumbo is partner/director of integrated production at Deutsch.

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