If you started your career in an agency at the same time as I did, in the aughts, the adage of the ‘impossible triangle’ was drummed into our heads daily. I remember my early days in the industry at Grey New York vividly. I received some early client feedback on a budget I’d prepared and ran back to our producer — the brilliant Patty Wineapple – who, like a true New Yorker, said: “Tamara, tell them it’s good, fast, or cheap, and you can only pick two.” As a young budding account manager, I remember running back with this golden nugget of advice and explaining it to my clients, like I’m sure many did at that time.
Fast forward a decade or more and that all changed. The once impossible triangle became the golden one. Advances in technology and the decoupling of production meant clients didn’t have to pick just two, they could expect to achieve all three with the right creative and production partners. As media channels have multiplied over the past 5-10 years, we were already on a path to something quite new that marketers needed. But the pandemic has injected some jet fuel into the evolution of production. Marketers no longer need a golden triangle – they want a golden hexagon. Quality, speed, and budget-cognisant now go hand in hand with sustainable, personalised and diverse.
This really started with the proliferation of media channels. When a brand manager back in the day said good, fast, and cheap — they were only making a TV ad, a radio ad, or a print ad. Now, there’s thousands of different channels that we are creating content for and communicating with people through. Those channels have created a hyper-personalised world for consumers, where they can curate their own entertainment rather than consume what’s dictated. As a result, brands have been changing their marketing approach from the top down to deliver results.
Whilst personalisation has been driven by the growth of omni-channel content over a few years, the demand for sustainability and diversity has been greatly accelerated as a result of events over the past 18 months. Sustainable business practice is of course not a new phenomenon but until very recently it wasn’t a high enough business priority for many to warrant a complete shake up of the way things are done. Two years ago, if I were to tell a client that we’re going to shoot a TV commercial — nobody’s going to be on set, not the director, not the cameraman, and it’s going to be brilliant, you have nothing to worry about — they would say “That’s crazy.” The pandemic helped people open up to ways of working and seeing things that they wouldn’t have considered before. The world changed overnight and it didn’t go amiss with savvy consumers. They hold brands responsible for making big changes; there’s no excuse after pivoting on their axes when worldwide lockdown happened. They expect sustainable practices to come down through everything a brand is doing — including their production.
Diversity and inclusion have also been pulled far more into the spotlight as a result of events throughout 2020. Our industry has a long long way to go until it behaves responsibly but, like sustainable practice, consumers want brands to behave better, to be inclusive and diverse, and to do that authentically and with purpose it has to happen across their entire operation.
The key to great planning is understanding omnichannel production and the needs of different markets. Production planning is one of the newly emerging areas that will enable us to achieve these aspirations, making it an essential element to implement well from the beginning. Proper planning eliminates a lot of the waste and helps to move faster, which takes away costs while improving the quality and the adoption of assets.
I often see the problem of companies building tech and then pushing it as the only available solution. It makes me think of the saying ‘if you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail’. Instead, I encourage the industry to adopt a ‘tech agnostic’ approach as it allows you to pick the right tool for the right job. There are so many exciting technologies on the market to take advantage of right now. For example, next generation gaming technology can be leveraged for real time rendering as well as virtual sets and AI. We can also use LiDAR, the tech behind Google’s self-driving cars, to create 3-D maps on location that can be used in post to customise things in ways unimaginable before.
Due to the sheer amount of channels and the varying types of content that needs to be created for them, many clients have ended up with growing numbers of partners involved in the process. That right there is the death of the hexagon because if you’re not able to plan properly, you can never have a holistic view over the whole operation. It’s part of the reason we are starting to see agencies recouple.
I joined Tag in 2020 because I could see they were set up for the hexagon approach from day one. As a business, it has two key advantages. Its independence enables us to work with any client and particularly those who work with many different creative agencies. We can fit into any ecosystem seamlessly. But the second one is critically important and that’s our ability to work across all different areas of consumer touchpoints. We do everything from TV, all the way down to shopper marketing, and having an understanding of assets across different areas. This helps us tremendously in the planning stages and we can have a holistic view that transforms production processes end-to-end.
I have to say what I’m most excited for as a result of these changing client demands is what shape production will take next. We are an industry of problem solvers. I believe that this industry, and this area in particular, will continue to evolve and help lead the way on solving key challenges for marketers, whether it is diversity, personalisation, sustainability or whatever’s next.
The new production landscape is changing shape. Are you going to be a part of it?