Future of production

Achieving balance: Finding a competitive edge through in-house production

St Luke's Head of Moving Image Chloe London on the new opportunities ahead in production

By Chloe London

As with so many trends these days, it accelerated during the pandemic. In the scary and unpredictable early days of Covid restrictions, brands were under more pressure to be “always on” and agencies had to adapt and learn to respond at speed. And as a result, agencies have turned to in-house production as a way to make that happen. As those days recede into memory, the need for faster productions does not seem to be abating.

There is no doubt that having an in-house production set-up at St. Luke’s allows us to act with more agility and speed. Creatives write ideas that can be executed at pace and, as a result, they become more confident about being proactive and acting in the moment to create culturally relevant work. Our Butterkist: Here for the Drama campaign from January 2022 is a perfect case in point.

Hooking straight into the national news agenda, we hijacked #Partygate, which has become more showbiz than showbiz, offering us the perfect opportunity to show that Butterkist was “here for the drama”. We took the Butterkist ad-van right down to the gates of Downing Street to insert the brand into the heart of the story and it got attention. We reached a total of 86 million people worldwide within 48 hours thanks to 8 million Twitter impressions for Butterkist and pick up in eight national newspapers and ten trade titles.

This fast-paced turnaround can be easier to execute when you have the facility to do the editing, post-production and sound all under one roof because it streamlines the process, therefore helping to create precisely the kind of relevant content brands want to be putting out. And it isn’t just about those unmissable newsworthy moments; brands want to talk to their consumers consistently throughout the year rather than just at seasonal or peak moments.

Achieving that requires significantly more assets per production, that can then easily be adapted regularly, working across all the different online platforms and, often, bespoke to specific platforms and audiences. Now that we have developed a distinctive brand platform for Tyrrells, the KP-owned snack brand, we can adapt the assets to whatever product or seasonal moment Tyrrells wants to support at speed. Most recently the launch of its Lentil Crisp range. With the process handled in-house, production can be turned around in two weeks.

In-house can’t replace the excellent third-party production companies that agencies rely on, and St Luke’s has worked with some that specialise in making great content at speed, so timings are not the sole driver of this shift to in-house production. Conversely, we are also seeing the rise of content production companies working directly with brands. It comes back to brands needing agencies and creative companies to evolve to deliver social first campaigns, requiring multiple shorter form bespoke assets, whilst retaining quality production values, all with tighter budgets.

Speed and flexibility are not the only drivers of the shift, of course. From an agency perspective, it is another revenue stream - and for brands can be a more cost-efficient way to make content at scale.

Production is evolving, however, so keeping up to date and understanding new tech is crucial. At St Luke’s, we have run internal workshops on Unreal Engine and invited speakers from TikTok and Meta to understand their tech, trends and capabilities better. These insights give creatives more confidence to write scripts that work in these new and changing spaces.

Still, bringing production in-house is a compelling opportunity for all agencies, particularly as artificial intelligence (AI) gains momentum, creating more scope for brands to create assets quickly and ever more effectively.


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