The direct-to-brand production model is becoming ever prevalent. LBB finds out how five next gen offerings are shaking things up
From the dramatic rise in deliverables and the move to online, to the need for speed of timely content and pressing demand for highly personalised, hyper-local experiences - audiences are driving major shifts in brand advertising and who is creating it.
With brands looking to stay ahead of the curve and on budget, a market has opened up for companies with new solutions - solutions that not only address the shifts in audience behaviour but that have the capability to deliver against it. Here, we take a look at five next generation production solutions on our radar and what makes them different...
Spearheaded by creative director Matt Carroll and managing director Tom Maberly, &FRIENDS
is the innovative evolution and globalisation of former company, Mr. White. Classed as a production partner, &FRIENDS
is aimed specifically at brand marketing departments, working alongside all parties involved to support brands right from the earliest stages of a campaign.
They tell us that in the race to offer brands creative solutions for how to produce killer content, it can be easy to overlook the more important question: why? With a blend of both brand and editorial experience, Matt and Tom describe their creative approach as ‘publisher-minded’, meaning that they always keep the audience’s needs in mind. For them, this deeper strategy and understanding of a client’s top business objective – the why – is essential in helping brands cut through in today’s crowded digital landscape.
As a production partner, &FRIENDS works by being plugged into a client’s business, allowing for a much deeper understanding of their key objectives. Armed with this information, the team is able to react quickly and efficiently to content needs – something which is crucial in our fast-paced, reactive world.
On top of this, &FRIENDS holds a proprietary in-house platform – with access to a worldwide creative community of over 2000 ‘friends’ – enabling clients to build bespoke teams of specialist makers that can be switched ‘on’ and ‘off’, as and when required. It’s an approach they’ve called FlexSourcing – essentially giving clients the functionality of an in-house team with the expertise of specialists, giving brands premium quality creative while stretching spend further than traditional models. This is something that the co-founders ultimately believe will combat the ongoing industry challenge of tighter budgets and an increased demand for content.
Set out to combine the agility of the best creators with the expertise of a production company, .fount
is a Berlin-based talent management and consultancy platform founded by producers Philipp Haeberlin-Collet and Jo Glenk.
A relatively new offering, .fount arrived on the scene in 2020 as a talent hub to match agencies and production companies with curated multi-skilled talent outside of their usual ‘bubble’. But, as brands and agencies struggled to get to grips with the rapidly growing variety of digital content and platforms available, .fount identified a gap in the market to become ‘facilitators of digital content creation’ - not just a talent matching agency but a production and strategy consultant designed to empower production workflows, they tells us.
Noticing that projects run a lot more efficiently and quickly when creators are left to work in their own way, .fount places great emphasis on boosting creator-centric production. The team found that this allows for a 20-40% faster and cheaper workflow than classical models offer.
Using tailored production-thinking workshops to bring all stakeholders together at the early stages of the process, .fount helps to establish a level of trust between the creators and the digital agencies and brands. With a .fount moderator leading the workshops to arrive at a suitable 'production framework' ready to shoot, the creator is free to execute the production with as little client interference as possible. And in cases where a client wants to outsource the entire production, .fount takes the role of account manager, coordinating the production while serving as a quality gate.
Freedman International began as print management company, Printcom, over 30 years ago. In 1993, CEO Kevin Freedman received his first big break when UPS needed help managing complex pan-European campaigns that involved much more than just printing. Within a few years, Kevin refocused the business on international marketing campaigns and Printcom became Freedman International.
He states that the era of one-size-fits-all global campaigns has well and truly passed, and brands are now balancing the need to build globally but speak to their worldwide audience in a hyper-local way. But, with the world at people’s fingertips, brands can easily get caught up in cultural controversy, coming under fire for content that seems irrelevant or insensitive. And with audiences more perceptive than ever to brand inauthenticity, they only want to follow those who they connect with and respect - in other words, brands who live and breathe their culture. As a specialist in this area, Freedman International
is helping them achieve this.
By building bespoke teams hand-picked from a global community of cultural experts, Freedman International acts as a brand guardian to ensure communications are always consistent and compliant. Kevin reveals a unique insight-driven approach that enables brands to localise global communications, ensuring that they can speak to any audience, anywhere in the world, on their own wavelength. Using this insight as a tool to help clients understand the local competition and consumer, the focus shifts from ‘advertising’ to ‘connecting’.
Renowned in the advertising community, MediaMonks
has proven expertise in building digital campaigns and experiences for brands. In 2018, Sir Martin Sorrell acquired the agency, helping it sky-rcoket even further as a business model. The team says that with their single P&L and end-to-end solution, they’re able to work fast and flexibly, integrating with clients to deliver a true sense of partnership. They have always been digital-first, but continue to evolve as the landscape changes.
When the pandemic hit, conventional wisdom around digital transformation gave way to a new need: total brand virtualisation across the whole customer journey. Recognising this, MediaMonks helped brands virtualise at speed to keep their presence in the market. And to help them create more personalised experiences, MediaMonks combines creativity, analytics and technology to offer valuable insight, allowing clients to better build brand love and forge deeper connections with their audiences.
Announcing a mindset for a new era, in 2020 the company launched its #CommitToChange initiative to hold itself accountable for diverse representation and strives to accurately reflect the communities in which it works, enabling clients to build more inclusive creative and experiences along the way.
They tell us that this philosophy also influences the way they nurture the next generation of talent, having launched the S4Capital Fellowship Program to invite students and recent graduates from historically Black colleges and universities to apply for a hands-on view of what it’s like to be a chief executive through formalised apprenticeships.
Avocados and Coconuts
A boutique production agency that stands for beautiful storytelling and production value at its heart, Avocados and Coconuts
was founded by executive producer Dalia Burde in anticipation of the shift to digital content in branding and advertising. Experiencing first-hand the struggle for agencies to find their footing in this new paradigm, Dalia saw the need for a happy medium - something she describes as a scrappy and equally creative production partner that could trim the fat and execute at a high level.
Taking a nonlinear, holistic approach to production, Avocados and Coconuts develops and executes creative by looking at every aspect of the process - from strategy and creative development, to executional production considerations and post production/finishing - allowing each discipline to inform the others.
With experience on both agency and client side, the team view themselves as content ‘counselors’ as much as content ‘creators’, to help clients invest in great ideas that truly fit unique needs and budget. This malleable quality means that they can be both hands-off in creative development and hands-on – from writing the brief and strategising, to shooting and post. But no matter what the approach, they tie everything together with their fundamental belief that content needs to be valuable in its ability to bring the audience joy or insight.