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Don’t Compete with Your Rivals, Compete with Yourself



INFLUENCER: KODE’s Dan Mallerman on why focusing on your own capabilities is so important for advertising production companies

Don’t Compete with Your Rivals, Compete with Yourself

As a production company KODE are often asked (okay, okay; I hound agencies from dawn to dusk for the most meagre moment of their time) to show our commercial work. For any production company, but never more so than during those embryonic stages, this is an important opportunity to present not only the work you’ve produced but also the company itself. That isn’t to say that upon establishing yourself, that element ceases being important, it just becomes easier. 

I remember presenting work to the creative department at Grey back in the summer of 2012. Producers flitted in and out, some for a slice of the pizza on offer no doubt but the turn out was good. I was showing Jelly London’s animation reel, and the work was brilliant, creative and interesting, but the first (well, the only) question I was asked was, “This is all great, it looks wonderful but it’s not commercial. Do you do CGI for dishwasher liquids?”

This is, I later learnt, a good thing; being asked a question regarding a specific brand for what, it transpired, was a proper job. So why then was my lasting impression one of despondence? Because so often these opportunities to show work to large groups of commissioning producers are few and far between. Put simply, how do you decide what to show? 

There are, according to the APA website, almost 200 commercial production companies, and that is only counting those who are members of the APA. So the challenge is to differentiate yourself, and to figure out from whom you are really differentiating yourself from. I recently read a quote from an unlikely source which really struck a chord. It is not industry relevant but doesn’t need to be: “It’s not really about the competition. Your biggest challenge in a race is yourself… It’s not the person next to you that you worry about.” 

Summer Sanders was a US Olympic swimmer and what made this quote seem so pertinent was that idea of competition. Some of our competitors are incredible, in fact they all are, but some are at the very pinnacle. I would confidently bet they achieved their success not by worrying about anyone else but themselves. 

Competition is almost irrelevant; without being dismissive (far from it) all we can do is be inspired by the work of others and, ultimately, show the next creative team or TV producer that we are capable. That the work we produce is of value. We know others can so remove that from the equation, and what are you left with? You’re left with what you have strived for, and what you have worked those long hours for. Have confidence in your product, even if it isn’t a commercial featuring dishwasher liquid because if that isn’t what gets you up in the morning then stick to the principles that do. 

After all success is not final, failure is not final. It is the courage to continue that counts – and if it’s good enough for Churchill then I’m sure it’s good enough for us at KODE. 

Dan Mallerman is Head of New Business at Kode
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Kode, Fri, 04 Mar 2016 09:48:40 GMT