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The Influencers

2018: No Norm Is the New Norm

INFLUENCERS: Tim Page and Jody Allison say there’s no one way to make a commercial in 2018

2018: No Norm Is the New Norm

Much of the industry discussion in 2017 was driven by uncertainty. With brands beginning to work directly with suppliers or set up their own in-house agencies, many have questioned the viability of current agency models. We’ve also seen many question the longevity of new tech – what is a fad and what is going to make their clients’ money. There have been some memorable brand f*ck ups and interesting agency acquisitions but what does it all mean for production in 2018? 

What we can be certain of this year is that no norm is the new norm – but that’s not a bad thing. 2017 has incited a new era of experimentation in terms of new business models, ideas and execution and there’re some exciting things to look forward to:

From Maverick Content to ATL Campaigns 

Having worked with both agencies and brands directly on production through 2017/2018, we have experienced first-hand that production know-how and can-do attitude is highly valued by both parties. In order to compete, agencies need cutting edge ideas and expertise that brands can’t find or necessarily set up themselves in house. Equally, brands aren’t just doing maverick bits of content in house anymore, they’ve moved into creating full ATL campaigns which they can’t pull off with an inexperienced production team. There were definitely some big mistakes made by brands in 2017 which were testament to the importance of having experienced creative and production partners on board. 

The Market is Diversifying

There is an exciting influx of new model companies, including independents, agencies, production companies, post production companies and implementation companies who are looking to bring their expertise to brands in a new way. 

There is no longer “one way” to work. It’s clear brands want to have more direct contact with the idea and execution, yet don’t have that expertise. Clearly the traditional model of production will still suit many brands, but it isn’t the only way. Heads Up has been working across a multitude of production scenarios which have shown us brands are choosing how they want to work. We’ve worked with an international airline to realise their own script idea directly with a production company. We've collaborated with a global cosmetics brand who “bought” the creative idea from the agency but wanted to work directly with the production company. In this situation both brand and production company realised that the project needed some overarching production co-ordination and agency style insight to get to the ideal output. We’re currently also working directly with a large, dynamic brand who have set up their own internal creative agency division. This brand however do need production guidance across multiple deliverables. Of course, we have also worked the traditional way (for want of a better expression) with creative agencies - stepping in as their production resource for brands like Ferrari and Suzuki. Not long ago that would have been the only way of working but we're noticing there is no single way to work with agencies and brands. Experienced production is now about making sure you work the right way for that particular project.

Interestingly, at the end of January 2018 we were asked to be part of a workshop run by the APA titled ‘A Practical Guide To Working Directly with Clients’. The fact that people in production in our industry want to be more educated in this area is a big indicator of the times we are working in.

As clients begin to have more say in the creative process there are now a plethora of ways in which a commercial can be made. Brands can practically build their own bespoke team from campaign to campaign if they want to, driving fierce competition for agencies and production companies alike. We have spoken before about the benefits this competition will bring to everyone in the industry in terms of creative choice and we only expect competition to be fiercer and creative to be stronger in 2018.

Virtual Relationships

Whilst many are focusing on how to market for a new era of tech – from VR and AR right through to virtual assistants - it is important to consider how tech will also affect our day to day lives and working relationships. 

We’ve seen an influx of new software that aims to speed up workflow processes at all stages of the supply chain. However there have also been some interesting developments that may change our working relationships. We recently partnered with The Liberty Guild – a co-creation platform that connects brands who need ideas with the top creatives and strategists in the world, and then helps bring those ideas to life in a bid-based production marketplace. This platform opens up the world of ‘decoupled creative’ for brands - further redefining the advertising supply chain. It certainly brings brands deep into the production process.


Whilst Clients seem to increasingly be taking control of how they want the advertising process to work for them, production is still the bedrock of any good creative output, including any virtual one. Despite the number of different ways of operating, production can be the conduit through which Client / Creative / “Vision Maker” can come together – there has to be a guiding and consistent hand with good management experience. Ultimately, good production supports and helps enhance an idea from development through to execution. From our recent experiences it seems that more and more people are recognising the value in having production close at hand to make memorable work in a pragmatic and responsible way. 


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Genre: People , Strategy/Insight