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Taylor James: Collecting Unicorns Kept Us Ahead of the Curve


Meet the creative production studio marrying technology with production, led by multi-disciplined ‘unicorn talent’

Taylor James: Collecting Unicorns Kept Us Ahead of the Curve
Founder and CEO of Taylor James, Glen Taylor, has seen a great many changes in the advertising industry over the past two decades. Working towards the provision of a more personalised, immersive, experiential and measurable experience for consumers, the company has spent the last few years bringing together a team that can answer any brief. They have been building a collection of ‘unicorns’.

Whilst others in content creation decided to take the path of hyper specialisation in one sector (automotive or fashion, for example), Taylor James had recognised the future of content creation would require people who could understand and solve problems creatively across multiple sectors, which has seen them help numerous brands release content during the pandemic.

“Advertising doesn’t fit neatly into boxes anymore,” explains Glen Taylor. “To be a specialist in content creation in 2020 and beyond, you have to be a digital native and you have to be able to give a piece of work multiple perspectives and solutions. The best people to do this are the ones with an arsenal of hybrid skills and experiences behind them. Advancing technology and the rise of social media have meant all brands have had to adapt quickly to be where their audiences are - and that can’t happen if you only specialise in one way of creating and producing.”

Established in 1999, Taylor James produces visual content for film, print and interactive media. With offices based in London, New York, Mexico City and LA, Taylor James partners with brands and advertising agencies worldwide to elevate their creative output. The fully integrated production studio balances smart creative with innovative technology, and the team drives multi-platform solutions and delivers measurable ROI - seeing a 20% growth year on year. Clients include the likes of BMW, Lexus, Honda, Google, Heineken, Peloton, Rolex, Bose, MasterCard and HP to name but a few.

With expert craftspeople across every discipline, Taylor James is made up of forward thinking innovators with decades of experience. Artists, storytellers, directors, photographers, creative producers and technologists join the lead team, made up of CEO Glen Taylor; COO George Rex who covers everything from finance to operations; Mexican Head of Operations Violeta León Valadez; Head of LA Andrew Hall; and Brendan Haley, Mark Knowles and Jay Harwood in charge of creative output across the globe.

In 2017, Taylor James was acquired by Tag Worldwide, in a strategic move to boost investment and broaden its client base. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ was merged into Taylor James Group across the Americas and in less than three years, the business grew 100%. Mexico City became an important cog in this growth success.  

Dipping into the top CG, production, and design talent in the area, the office in Mexico City -  a destination with flourishing cultural and creative history that is somewhat untapped by Europe and the West - is linked seamlessly with the studio’s New York, LA and London offices. Led by their Violeta León Valadez, the offices work as one, sharing resources across borders.

“The biggest challenge right now is the ever-growing need for volume content, delivered on ever-evolving technology platforms which personalise a sales message with increased creative intellect. An opportunity exists for production companies to step up offering brands a solutions focused, creative layer, that sits on top of core traditional services,” Glen explains. “Independent global production companies can produce content at scale, personalised with language and cultural understanding, and delivered through transparent, cost-effective and reliable pipelines. What separates us is our top down approach. We produce content of the highest quality and infuse sound creative principals into everything we touch. 

He continues: “The industry is confused, opportunity can come from anywhere and having strong creative thinkers, solutioning and problem solving, end to end productions is key. By joining client conversations with strategy, ideation and media buying, we promote the importance of production, and offer our clients a true global scalable, fast, cost effective, creative end-to-end solution.”

The team have been honing their photoreal/game engine CGI skills for years and now offer real-time content and experience creation, as well as editing and virtual feedback with clients using Unreal Engine - a process that was utilised in one of their recent projects for Hyundai, led by Head of Automotive Ross DelConte. “The client and their customers were able to view the photorealistic interior and exterior of the car from all angles inside a VFX world on their browser” Glen says. “This enables faster, easier, and more accurate collaboration leading to a better overall customer experience - and replaces the need to visit a physical showroom.” 

Digital Disruption

The nature of advertising and marketing is fundamentally based on taking a product or service and elevating consumer perception to influence purchasing behaviour and build brand value, or in the case of politics, reaching voters and inspiring them to vote. 

Glen says: “Adverts now need to make an impression faster and across a wider scope than compared to the era of when TV ads dominated the landscape. Digital advertising spend now accounts for 50 per cent of the marketing global spend and there are over 50 recognisable digital channels, each with varying strategies to reach a consumer. Millennial and Generation Z children are growing up in a completely digital native environment, dominated by the internet and smartphones. They are bombarded 24/7 with an “always on” style of content from digital platforms which run sophisticated algorithms and programmatic technologies to track a user’s persona, interests and buying habits. It is a constant data cycle, which is enabling our industry to become more personalised, immersive, experiential and measurable by every second.” 

However, this environment also creates huge challenges for clients as budgets once reserved for multimillion TVC campaigns are now splintered across multiple agency partners, allocated on a project-by-project basis rather than an all-encompassing contract, and the rise of digital channels is driving clients to stretch the same budgets across more consumer touch points.

Traditional advertising agencies have generally struggled to keep pace with this digital world and now consultant firms, design studios, PR agencies, and specialist digital agencies are all taking more market share. “The content challenge described here is going to be solved by a new generation of production company. One that is creatively savvy and one that can work independently and alongside agencies, raising the profile and importance of production within content creation today and tomorrow.”

Ahead of the Curve

“Our company has always embraced technology, evolving from retouching photographs for photographers in 1999 to adopting CGI technology by 2004,” says Glen. “Since establishing the New York office in 2013, the business has experienced double-digit growth year on year, and opened offices in Los Angeles and Mexico. An entrepreneurial and growth mindset has kept Taylor James alive, vibrant and relevant.”

He continues: “In 2008 we were building the integrated production company of the future and we didn’t even know it. We constantly pushed boundaries and that summer I personally directed my first TV commercial for Bermuda Tourism. A 30-second spot that blended CGI bird’s eye views of the island with intermittent live-action footage of tourists enjoying various activities. From the top down, we combined print and TV production pipelines and shoot schedules to seamlessly offer our clients a full tool kit of assets, all from one budget. 

Within the next ten years, this fully integrated approach has become our modus operandi, cementing a solutions-focused mentality and passion for efficiency into the culture of our company and our staff.”

For the last two years, Taylor James has integrated traditional advertising agency skill sets into their core production teams to build a new capability. Placing 'thinkers' next to 'makers', they now originate ideas and craft production strategies which solve the 'faster, better, cheaper' challenge.

Glen states: “We are prioritising the importance of production strategies across all marketing activity, to leverage efficiencies from end to end. The key is balancing technology with creative storytelling, to take the 'big idea' and drive value by pushing this into lots of “small ideas” along the numerous media channels.”

From TV commercials, digital billboards, social and digital campaigns to augmented reality, programmatic or interactive campaigns, the future of advertising is to balance creativity with technology to produce highly targeted content in increasingly complex ways.

“As we move forward, we will continue to adapt to the emerging trends and we will expand our interactive department as, like CGI in 2004, we believe digital technology will continue to drive change in how brands connect with consumers. Precision advertising will also become more central to a brand’s campaign, offering personalised, immersive and experiential experiences to package a story that emotionally resonates with consumers,” Glen concludes.

Armed with their team of unicorns, the vision of Taylor James for the future focuses on utilising enabling technologies and bringing creative and production together so brands can reach their audiences more quickly, through more channels, and in more meaningful ways; placing Taylor James globally as the makers of more.

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Taylor James, Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:38:23 GMT