This post is not about whether you should or should not decouple your television advertising production. But more importantly, once you have made the decision to decouple your advertising production, what do you need to consider to ensure success?
Decoupling or unbundling is not new. In the UK and Europe this has been a strategy for the past 10 to 15 years. It is has been less common in the US. The advantage for those that are now undergoing this process is that we can learn from experience in these markets.
The decoupling process can be a highly emotional one for agencies, production companies and post production companies. This is because it requires all parties to undergo change in process, influence and responsibilities. And despite being the ‘creative’ end of the agency process, the resistance to structural and process innovation is high.
So how do you minimise the disruptive effects of change on the creative and production resources within your supply chain?
1. Requires senior marketing stakeholder support throughout
Make no mistake, this is a cultural change for all stakeholders. This process is going to disrupt the current prevailing culture and existing relationships between marketers, agencies, production companies and post production companies. It will also create new relationships between these stakeholder groups. Therefore it is important that the decision to undertake this process is taken at the highest level and purpose is maintained and supported throughout the process.
2. Is based on a defined and sustainable financial model
Decoupling is not about cost reduction, but process improvement and economies of scale. Marketers and procurement people that have approached this process simply to reduce costs have usually come unstuck and failed because they have failed to identify where the value is created and delivered in the production process. It is not simply about going to market with a tender to select the lowest supplier cost, but about identifying, aligning and managing the resources required to maximise the value delivered.
3. Has clearly defined objectives, strategy and metrics
Like the previous point, if you are doing this simply to reduce costs, then don’t. There are many more important benefits to be delivered through this process and these must be clearly and deliberately articulated. These include increased efficiency in brand management, greater supplier alignment to brand, increased speed to market and more.
4. Includes input from the agencies on supplier selection
The relationship between the agency, and especially the creative department and the production industry is an established one. One of the few major decisions creative people make (and I know as I was a copywriter for 15 years) is the selection of the director they want to work with. Directors and their producers have honed their selling skills on building relationships with creative directors. Understanding this relationship and accommodating this is important.
5. Marketing strategy requirements are clearly understood and accommodated
Marketing strategy requirements are changing with the drive of technology. The move from broadcast to inbound content marketing opportunities requires a different process to market. Therefore these requirements must not only be identified, but quantified to determine their significance in the mix. Understanding not only the current requirements, but the potential future changes in these strategic requirements will allow you to develop a new model that is sustainable in the medium to longer term.
6. Evaluation criteria is clearly weighted to suit marketing requirements
To reinforce the previous points, the selection criteria should not be set to whom is the cheapest, but who is able to deliver the quality and scope of requirements. Simply selecting the cheapest suppliers will simply deliver the lowest quality executions. You get what you pay for should be the mantra. The objective is to ensure you get what you need and still pay for it.
7. Is communicated with all stakeholders at each step of the process
There are a multitude of stakeholders in this process and you should ensure all are engaged and updated during the process. The temptation is to only work with the companies participating in the process. But in fact the marketing team and the agency are the highest priority. All three must be aware of the process and the progress from beginning to end.
8. Final supplier selection is based on delivering all of the objectives
We are often asked how many production companies or post production companies will be selected. The answer is as many as are required to deliver all of the requirements of the marketing strategy and as few as can deliver the maximum benefit. There is no magic number and those aiming for a singularity of outcome without considering the delivery of the requirements will be sadly disappointed with the inevitable failure of the process.
9. On appointment, all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities
As stated, this process is about structural and cultural change for many agencies and production companies and will potentially cause disruption. To minimise this disruptive effect it is important that all parties to the new relationship are clear in their role and responsibility. This is not just the new production suppliers, but also the agencies and the marketing team.
10. Regular reviews are undertaken, both on each production and annually
This is not a set and forget process. If managed by procurement or a consultant, then the selection of the preferred production providers is just the beginning. At a minimum you should undertake quarterly or half yearly reviews, depending on the production volume. Ideally you should be managing each production to ensure the process is operating effectively for all parties. If changes are required, then changes should be made.
The process is about delivering desired outcomes. There have been many failures, especially in the markets that pioneered the decoupling process. It is important to learn from these failures to maximise benefit and success.
What issues have you encountered with the process? Share here and lets discuss.