Production: Special Report

Cannes is said to be one of the few events at which it feels genuinely good to be British. Year after year, British agencies and production companies win handfuls of Lions and leave the rest to wonder how they did it.

After all, production budgets in the UK are being squeezed hard, if not harder than they are in the other big advertising markets. The competition between production companies in Soho is prohibitively fierce, just as it is elsewhere. Not only that, but the traditional work cycle has become unpredictable. Production companies can no longer tell when they will be rushed off their feet or left twiddling their thumbs, and even the World Cup has not made much difference.

So many other markets have let these various pressures sap the sparkle from their work. But it has been another solid creative year for commercials producers in the UK. Some strong scripts have been doing the rounds and Sony Bravia "balls" by MJZ, Stink's "impossible dream" for Honda and "noitulove" for Guinness by Danny Kleinman Productions are looking safe bets to make it another strong year for the Brits in Cannes. As Steve Davies, the chief executive of the Advertising Producers Association, says: "Other countries must look at us and think 'well, at least some countries are willing to pay for great creative work'."

Thankfully, there is plenty of new blood coming through. Saatchi & Saatchi's New Directors' Showcase (page 30) features more talent from the UK than from any other country. Just as promising is that UK production companies are adapting their business models to cater for the rise of digital advertising (this page). Budgets may be small beer now, even compared with shrinking TV budgets, but pretty soon digital will be a major battlefield on which UK production companies compete with each other and the world.


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