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Opinion and Insight

Producers of the World Unite in Cannes

A round-up of the issues discussed at the World Producers Summit, from globalisation to gender equality and in-house production

Producers of the World Unite in Cannes

On Wednesday morning the World Producers Summit convened on a beach in Cannes for a frank exchange of intelligence on the state of the production industry within advertising across various markets. The 12-year-old event saw production company owners from many countries gather along with representatives from many production associations, such as the AICP, APA and CFP-E.

Matt Miller, president and CEO of the AICP recounts how the event has changed in those 12 years. “It was amazement at how different the regions of the world were,” he said. “Here we are now, and we’re seeing homogenization. Brands are global and agency networks are global and therefore the way they operate they are trying to globalise ways of working in regional networks. So now we’re seeing our issues are global. There is bad practice that has permeated the world. 

“However, that also means that instead of each individual market fighting their own battles there’s an opportunity to globally fight these battles. And to try to create standards and fair business practice that would not be possible for many in the small countries who experience the same things as many in the larger markets.”

Chief executive of the APA Steve Davies reflected on the issues that the companies present considered of importance this year. “The themes were fairly familiar,” he said, citing a “loss of respect for craft and doing things properly” - a perennial worry for any companies with craft at the core of their business. “Payment terms are always an issue,” he added, before mentioning that the perceived threat of agencies’ in-house production departments to quality and the businesses of independent production companies. “We had an interesting discussion on that,” he said.

The number of countries in which production companies won’t bid against agencies’ in-house production departments is rising, said Steve. “This is affecting clients, because they won’t accept a single bid.” From the summit’s perspective, the most successful case is France, whose association of production companies has communicated with clients and, as Steve put it,  “a lot of clients have refused to use in-house departments now to the extent that it’s dying in France.” Some clients are now so distrustful of agencies, they are getting freelance TV departments, he explained.

CFP-E president Tony Petersen agreed that dialogue with advertisers was key for the production industry. He noted the hazard of “procurement driving the process, driven only by figures. We can ask why in-house production should be better, cheaper, more effective than the system that we have - a free, objective pitch between independent companies.”

Tony noted that many production associations are now in dialogue with procurement departments from some of the world’s biggest companies and that they have a great interest in understanding how film production companies operate. “If they can understand how we operate, it’s much easier to get the right thing,” he said.

Emma Reeves, executive director of Free the Bid also spoke at the event about how much progress is being made to address the lack of female directing talent being utilised. She shared the example of HP, who have committed to the initiative. To begin with, the brand had never had a commercial directed by a woman. Out of their last 53 global campaigns, 59 per cent were made with female directors found through Free the Bid.