Integrated production in creative land started out as merging the production of digital, broadcast, print and almost all other production into production department in the agency. This happened because many agencies shifted their creative philosophies, talent and structure to better orient themselves to create ideas unencumbered by specific media; agencies shifted their core principles to being media agnostic.
As agencies began to tear down silos, the transition to having one hub for managing production and project management made sense. Creative firms rarely find themselves working on one type of project anymore, and having one producer manage the content helped to coordinate the larger creative campaigns.
Addressing an ever widening landscape of creative work
As we have moved to having multi-disciplined projects, the producer model allows a central project manager like person who has an understanding of everything that goes on. In the integrated producer model, you are more than likely going to have a team of producers who have the critical thinking experience needed to work across different disciplines, but may be an expert with a deep understanding of one or more unique disciplines. Having a team of producers allows you a group of key people who can handle not only a large diversity of work, but they can also collaborate and work off of each other’s specialities to get the best work produced as possible.
The mentality of the producer is one that searches to solve problems, building teams in-house as well as outside the agency to do the impossible, to help wrangle complex scheduling and budgeting and negotiating and orchestrating a complex set of inter-related projects.
The producer model can also be found in a production services company as well as on the digital agency side. Integrated production shifts the emphasis to looking at the big picture, with the thinking that producers will look to the best way of accomplishing a project. This was similar to how broadcast production companies used producers, as well as digital agencies who found themselves working directly with agencies.
The emphasis on who makes up the best integrated producer in agency has also changed. Many single silo’ed producers had a hard time making the switch to handle multiple platforms. However, integrated production is less interactive central now, as the diversity of platforms and creative, technology and content needs has changed.
It’s okay not to have all the answers, but having a producer mentality focuses the energy into finding the answer. Now, the expectation is not that the producer knows every answer themselves, but can call on their peers, their team or help to bring in outside partners or artists that they can call on at any time to see the project through.
Improved Budgeting / Profitability
In this model, budgeting comes into line with the producer. The concept is basically to allow the team to focus on strategy and creative, with the producers sitting alongside. Together, with other agencies specialists (like a creative technologist) they will build out the budget and advise on what platform or ways that a client is going to get the most out of their budget.
When Integrated Production Makes Sense - Content, Content, Content
We no longer create on one platform anymore. How people consume content is changing, we are drifting away from the broadcast commercial model to content living simultaneously on second screens and smart devices. High quality creative content is still in demand, even as the way we are watching it has changed to on-demand culture.
How we are reaching audiences has changed, as well as the media mix. We may still communicate using traditional media, but we are now dealing with communicating with smaller audiences, in more unique ways, building content that is social and sharable friendly.
The “user journey” in the digital world has merged. The journey of the consumer can include, traditional media, digital, email, direct marketing, the retail space, social, experiential, event, loyalty & CRM programs. The integrated producer model helps to support an agency process that starts with a larger discovery period before getting to the conceptual stage.
Agencies have implemented the integrated model in a few different ways. However, more than likely, integrated agencies are going to be creating content that is story-driven and perhaps heavier on the immersive side.
Integrated advertising has changed in meaning through the years. But the intent is the same, to weave similar experiences through multiple channels, platforms, technology and touchpoints.
Integrated production and project management workflow is also driven by agency culture. Technology doesn’t drive decisions, creative decisions drive the technology.
Integrated driven agencies are also shifting where they look to build content. In both large and small agencies alike, you are seeing more agencies build internal production capabilities; from development, motion graphics, to shooting video, photography, editing and animation. Agencies are looking to respond to their client’s audience faster, and with more original content then ever before.
Depending on the agency, the team structure of integrated production can vary;
Integrated Producer (from SOW, content to end-to-end producing and project management)
Integrated Producer (SOW & Content Development) & Project Manager (managing day-to-day work and resource allocation)
Integrated Producer (SOW & Content Development) & Project Manger (managing day-to-day work and resource allocation) & Technical Lead or Scrum Master (overseeing development)
One of the reasons why integrated production came into being was because agencies and marketers are challenged with costs and efficiency. How do you create, commercials, print, digital, and social media content in a cost effective, but engaging way?
However, the old model of “create once and reuse often” is being seen as somewhat limited. Content in today’s communications world, can get stale very quickly. So even in the integrated producer model you are seeing new practices being applied.
Central to the integrated model is working within in teams, that cover a number of different channels. These team members are brought into the mix as the larger umbrella thinking progresses from strategy into discover and creative phases. Many agencies embrace the team structure in a semi-agile like manner, where teams work on the clients business and can react quickly to take advantage of cultural, technical or media opportunities.
Agencies are also building internal teams that will work with the larger team model that have autonomy to quickly work on a client’s business to take advantage of timeliness.
Integrated production models can follow through on either type of advertising model, taking advantage of near-time as well as working in “big idea” environments.
What makes for a great integrated producer?
- Being an integrated producer is very similar to being a creative project manager. In many agencies, the integrated producer is the project manager.
- You have to have a deep set of skills in one or more area, digital, broadcast, product, etc.
- You have to be a good critical thinker who can realign teams on a heart beat.
- You have to live and breath, creativity, design and innovation.
- As a big agency hub, you have to fit into the culture seamlessly across all levels.
- Client-facing skills
- Find the best way to produce any given idea.
Integrated producers mean different things at different agencies and when they hire, they might be looking for different types of integrated producers to round out or fill in. Integrated Producers can live within an agency that has other internal processes as well, where interactive work is run with project management or with product / scrum methodologies.