• Sean Grace

Breaking Through - Going Direct-To-Brand



Back in the day, big brands would tap their creative ad agencies to develop concepts for large scale, broadcast TV campaigns. Agencies would then distribute RFPs to a number of production vendors to bid on the respective concepts and award those projects accordingly. The relationship between brand and agency remained sacrosanct and production companies would often remain behind the agency curtain.


Then came the internet, and brands began shifting their resources to this new, highly fractionalized medium. They demanded more content more frequently from their agencies who then had to recalibrate their business models to meet this new reality.


Part of the agency recalibration was to build out their own production arms to both appear more nimble to their brand clients as well as capture those production dollars themselves, while lessening their reliance on independent production vendors.


Meanwhile, brands began “decoupling” from their agencies-of-record and embarked on building their own in-house creative and production arms, and therefore lessening their own reliance on outside agencies.


This massive reshuffling of creative and production sourcing has created tectonic shifts in both the agency and production worlds while also creating new opportunities for the more savvy independent production companies. More brands are now seeking to establish direct relationships with innovative production companies and as a result more production companies are evolving into full service, hybrid production / agencies.


Transitioning from a traditional production/post house into an end-to-end creative production agency isn’t easy, especially for those companies who still act as pure “vendors” and spend most of their efforts chasing agency boards in order to sell their “A-list” directors. This formula still has a market for houses serving agencies with high profile brands making million dollar broadcast spots, but that’s not where the majority of work has been migrating.


Brands are in desperate need of competent, non-traditional, creative-production partners who can collaborate from concept to completion and offer innovative expertise from creative direction, scriptwriting and storyboarding to live action production and full service post. Many production and post companies already have much of that expertise, where they fall short is in their ability to communicate those capabilities and forge relationships directly with brands - a skillset traditionally owned by agencies.


Those independent production companies who can build creative partnerships with brands directly, as opposed to acting as just transactional vendors, will define the future of the hybrid creative production agency.