The Insider's Guide to Production: Defining the new expertise

Technology offers sound-and-vision ads to more marketers. How will agency and production house relationships adapt?

The revelation that increasing numbers of clients are doing it for themselves makes this Insider's Guide to Production a particularly timely one.

Decoupling - the process by which an advertiser chooses to unpick the agency-production house ties - is fast becoming a real option, with more and more marketers choosing to brief production companies directly.

For those marketers, these essays offer a flavour of the broad diversity of skills, tasks and issues involved in the business of commercials production.

Should an ad be in high definition? How many media channels does it need to work across (and what are the implications)? Will it require music (and how do you go about choosing and licensing it)? How to take best advantage of digital technologies? How do you select the best editors for your job? What is the cheapest way to do it? Should you outsource abroad? And how will you go about recruiting a cast?

Not such an easy short-cut, after all, perhaps. Just this nominal pick of necessary considerations will be enough to put off even some of the most budget-conscious of clients from taking on management of the production process.

One thing every author in this supplement trumpets is the sagacity of using an expert for every part of the business. (They would, wouldn't they?) But that argument can also be used by ad agencies to shore up their own defences against a production industry that looks like stealing their lunch.

For years, traditional ad agencies have been the experts that take away the headache of pulling together all the production and post-production functions and delivering them seamlessly to a marketer's desktop.

One assumes clients will always want a single funnel through which to handle commercials production; the question is which side of the agency-production house axis makes its case the most strongly.

Steve Davies, the chief executive of the Advertising Producers Association, is quick to reassure that his members recognise agency TV departments as "key, valued clients", and that they are "not about to lose sight of that". No doubt. But, as he acknowledges, there will be a mixture of relationships in the future - some with agencies, some with clients direct.

His assumption is that there will be a larger lunch to share, however, as technological advances and opportunities for branded content bring sound-and-vision advertising to within the grasp of those marketers who could previously not budget for TV.

Now that the production industry has been given a place at the table, the onus is on its practitioners to prove their strategic and management skills deserve to keep it there. Bon appetit.