How to collaborate: early and often
So...it’s a fragmented future, of lean, mean ultra-adaptable agencies, working with agile independent producers of all sizes?
Absolutely, and the winners of tomorrow will likely be those who can get the most out of their collaborative partnerships.
And in an environment when people want it both good and cheap, beginning the collaboration process earlier, rather than later, is encouraged.
“The consistently big budgets of five to ten years ago are now fewer and farther between, but that is not necessarily a bad thing,” says McAteer.
“Being smarter about in-house costs and overheads and being more collaborative at an earlier stage in the process with your clients, is key.”
“Having your goods or services showcased with online video has exceeded what we all expected even just a few years ago. The digital environment is dictating the need for variable length content, but so much visual media is now shot and uploaded without a well-considered idea, often times made worse by the fact that it’s shot extremely poorly.
“The key is to make sure it’s actually worth watching. In other words, get the production experts in early!”
It’s a moment for production companies, says Roydhouse, and the focus is on pragmatism, problem-solving and getting the job done whatever it takes.
“We need to be more solution-oriented than ever before.
“Open books, honesty, agile, strong partnerships, creative integrity — above all — all these things are more important than ever as the industry continues to adapt.
“As a production company, we need to be involved in the conversation from the very beginning — and we push for this. We need to be aware of the media plan, of what channels we’re targeting and why. We need the value and calibre of the work to be better than ever before. We need to be a partner, who’s constantly finding creative solutions, while, importantly having a bit of fun along the way.”
Cost pressure is a constant, says Stuchbury. It’s what you do with what’s available that counts.
“Costs can be managed to some pragmatic degree, but what can’t be managed is a deadline where there’s just not enough time to craft appropriately,” says Jonathan Hughes, owner and managing director at Franklin Road.
“We are seeing an increase on time pressures to turn work around more quickly than ever before — that’s probably our biggest concern as lack of time negates both creativity and good sound outcomes in the main.
“There are more platforms, more screens, more opportunities to develop new ways of engagement than ever before. We have clients who are as passionate about sound and music as we all are, and so as long as we accept that budgets are going to be as varied as the work will be, then we’re well placed to deliver to client needs across the board.
“More hands with more abilities to deliver prompt service to clients is where we are at this year, as long as we’re doing it cost-efficiently for our clients and ourselves, and as long as it’s fun. Great sound is part science, part art, and to that extent, I personally think we’re safe from robots for the next wee while.”
And about those robots: While it’s well and truly the iPhone age, perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that it's probably still storytelling that actually matters most.
“Video has always been king,” says Leisa Wall, creative group head at FCB New Zealand. “Whether it’s on TV social or big screen. Storytelling is a lot more powerful with video so therefore it remains the favourite.”
“Anyone can film something but not everyone can tell a story and that’s where the power is.
“Any agency that is future proofing themselves will be fine. Change is what we embrace here at FCB, so bring it on."
“Consumers are smart and savvy,” says Roydhouse. “They don’t want to be sold at, they want to be part of a conversation — authentic and relevant content — that is shot beautifully with a gripping story. It’s that simple."
And for all its challenges, it’s a very good time to be in the game thinks McCammon.
“It’s all a beautiful collaboration,” she says. “There’s art and science, storytelling and technology, process and innovations, authenticity and innovation.”
“There are smart clients at the table, with directors, thinkers and producers — and they’re all making work happen in real time.”
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