The World's Leading Independent Agencies 2010: DMG (Dynamic marketing group)

Moving into films has given DMG more opportunities for brand communication, Dan Mintz says.

The World's Leading Independent Agencies 2010 is a Campaign advertising supplement published for thenetworkone.

The scale of movie-making and movie-viewing is entering a new phase in China, creating massive opportunities for the advertising industry.

There are currently 4,700 cinema screens in China; in four years there will be 32,000. Chinese movie-goers will make up the biggest audience on the planet.

It was nearly 100 years ago that DW Griffith's Enoch Arden, one of the first feature films, opened. For many, it was Griffith who turned film-making into an art and, a century later, movies remain the most powerful art form in modern culture, as well as being the hardest cultural craft in which to excel.

Ever since the silent film era, audiences have been captivated by the power of long-form storytelling, and it's a medium that's taking China and its 1.3 billion consumers by storm.

The ability to deliver an audience of this magnitude is changing how DMG thinks and operates. We have become a bridge between creating ideas and making and distributing major productions, so our approach is to nurture talent - from traditional agency creatives through to producers, screenwriters, actors, authors and directors.

At the heart of our approach is the art of storytelling, a skill we have accelerated as fast as the Chinese economy in order to provide our international clients with amazing communication platforms and engaging messages.

While storytelling is nothing new in China, the practice is stuck in a rut where traditionally minded agencies are concerned. Messages are condensed into 30-second spots, two-dimensional posters and, latterly, shoehorned into banners, buttons and low-grade web films.

DMG is now less like an advertising agency and more like a hybrid of DreamWorks and Apple. DreamWorks for its craft and the art of storytelling, and Apple for its focus on a combination of content, distribution, hardware and intuitiveness.

During the past 12 months, we've opened our doors to storytellers and creative people to provide a platform for conveying a deeper story, avoiding the disposable communications that have dominated the global ad scene for decades.

We've brought this to life internally with a contest based on a book called Du La La, written by a former head of human resources in a typical Chinese corporation. Based loosely on his experiences, it has become a "Guide to Corporate Chinese Ladder Climbing". DMG has bought the intellectual property rights and is producing a The Devil Wears Prada meets The Office-style movie.

In a spin-off from the film, we've launched a creative writing challenge to allow anyone at DMG to write a ten-minute script based on one of the second-string Du La La characters. The winning short will star the same actors and will be produced by the same crew. Clients will be weaved into the back-story enabling brands such as Nokia and Lenovo to play a subtle role.

We are able to develop this vision thanks to the rapid growth of DMG Entertainment, our content, distribution and film production arm, which we launched last summer. For me, personally, it marked a return to the skills I developed at the start of my career as a director/director of photography in the US and China.

Last year, DMG produced the number-one Chinese language box office movie, The Founding of the Republic, an epic film marking the 60th anniversary of China's Communist revolution that starred almost all China's best-known names including Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Zhang Ziyi.

The cast list - as well as the subject matter - helped attract a younger, internet-obsessed generation back to the big screen. And, because DMG was a co-producer, we owned the production and marketing rights which enabled us to open up opportunities for our clients throughout the theatrical release.

This year, DMG Entertainment has a slate of ten movies to produce and distribute including more from the Twilight franchise, which we distributed last year. This is a dawn of an amazing opportunity for creatives and brands alike. China is now the fourth-largest box office in the world. In 2009, revenues surged 44 per cent to more than one billion dollars. In fact, they have grown by an average 30 per cent in each of the past six years and show no sign of slowing.

We're still making great ads, developing online experiences and taking brands on the road to interact and engage with an eager nation of consumers, but the ability to create scale for our ideas adds a new dimension to what we can offer.

It's more than product placement or weaving brand messages into scripts. Movies equal glamour and that makes us a magnet for talent. We bring the stars to the table rather than simply rubbing shoulders with them. In this one organisation, we own the intellectual property rights and we represent the actors, writers and producers.

Being a player in the long-form environment creates scalable opportunities for traditional brand communications. For the imminent launch of the Volkswagen GTI, we have created a movie within a movie. Our story is not only brought to life through cinema and small screen ads, but it evolves online and through experiential events.

Rather than create a single campaign TV commercial, we've created a multi-level story to cut up and play out over an extended time period in virtual and physical spaces.

The aim is for audiences to be inspired to seek out more, explore the story and piece it together. It's compelling and engaging.

Remember the movie How to Get Ahead in Advertising? Our answer was to launch a film studio and a place for talent to grow. Many in the ad industry dream of making movies but few ever make it through the traditional routes. China is a new ball game and DMG is giving people the chance to grow their ideas. We're throwing down the gauntlet to creatives in every discipline to come and have a go if they think they're good enough.

However, there's no success without a good idea, so our mission for 2010 is to give creatives the space to develop the kernel of an idea, and then add some DMG nuclear fusion to scale it up to the silver screen.

Dan Mintz is the chief executive/chief creative officer and founder of DMG (Dynamic Marketing Group)




Key principals
Dan Mintz, chief executive, chief creative officer; Peter Xiao, chairman; Wu Bing, president

Number of staff

Greater China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chang Chun, Hang Zhou, Cheng Du), Los Angeles

What would you like to see more of in 2010?
More collaboration and fusion between different creative disciplines; and I'd like to see branded entertainment elevated to a higher plain

Which country's creativity (other than your own) do you most admire?
Sweden for its amazing digital work, the UK for its understated humour and my homeland, the US, which is still producing great work.