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How Will the Agency / Production Relationship Change Post-Lockdown?

Production Company
London, UK
INFLUENCER: Kode's Dan Mallerman speculates on what he hopes is a brighter future after Covid-19

There will be a time, not too far from now, when the burning embers of Covid-19 aka coronavirus aka 'That Utter Bastard', will be extinguished. As they do, those of us tasked with searching among the charred remains of our industry will be posed the following question: What next?

The following is pure speculation – uninformed at that – as to how production companies and agencies' relationships will manifest themselves. 

I’d like to think that the only changes are vast amounts of money and time to make only the very finest of commercials. The months spent reminiscing about the scent of being on set; MDF, coffee, bacon sandwiches and sweat will lead everyone to insist that nothing but the most flamboyant of everything will suffice.

Then I read that the inevitable downturn in ad spend (something I have talked about elsewhere) and recognise that such hope is as likely as me accepting a Covid party invite from Matt Hancock.

My instinct is to say that the relationship between agencies and production companies, when good, is as effective a partnership as is possible. The way in which this can be enhanced is to realise how lucky we are to work in an industry where wearing shorts during summer doesn’t mean you work on a pig farm. Where it’s insisted upon to loiter in and amongst the public houses of Soho, and working late can often mean being fed decent grub with decent people. That is to say, no more moaning!

But there are a few elements, and it’s something I have long banged the drum about - a greater appreciation of one another’s expertise, and I hasten to add that this isn’t something that is currently taken for granted. What I do mean is a finer understanding of the expertise from one stage to the next.

Spending more time with one another, having the creative team pop into a production company for an afternoon... Have, for instance, myself or our head of production, be privy to the dialogue between producers and account managers.

There was a recent talk at the APA Masterclass regarding a Guinness spot directed by Tom Green of Stink Films, where the agency and production company were forced by circumstance to work together at a very early stage of the process – that is to say, before the project was categorically going ahead. The result was one of the most memorable campaigns of 2018. 

The sooner production company and agency are working together the sooner we can create a harmonious, plain sailing shoot. One where everyone nods in soft-focused slow motion, smiling. A wink thrown from the DOP to the director. The account handler receiving that longed for pat on the back from the client because they know they nailed it.

But before we can really begin to consider relationships, we should acknowledge that we’re going to be lighter on numbers for a period of time, and that’s on both sides of the fence. The pandemic has been truly brutal and unswerving in its destruction. The first hope is that we can begin to start making work that reflects the consumers' world as it will be and not as it was before. To do so we need to get all the people who have lost their jobs back (at least those who haven’t made the ill-advised decision to become a baker), and to get the mechanics of advertising oiled and working again.

Until then, discussing how we’re going to work together forever more - or until Covid Mk II strikes - seems, even now, a little too far away for my liking. 

Dan Mallerman is partner and head of new business at Kode

Work from Kode
Dream For The Future
Tuscan Summer
After Party
Bed Head