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Behind the scenes: what advertising production companies do


Marianne Azhari explains what advertising production companies do and what brands can learn from them to stretch their marketing budgets further

Marianne Azhari is regional managing director of Williams Lea Tag

When it comes to marketing and advertising we generally think of advertising agencies, media agencies, digital, PR, social media, events, experiential marketing and event production. But we rarely think “advertising production”. Some of us confuse it with the work done by the studio of an ad agency. And that is because not many people – including colleagues working in the industry – really understand what we actually do.

The one thing that is right about that misconception of advertising production is that it is indeed the technical part of our industry.

Today, as we all know, advertising budgets are being cut, marketing departments are shrinking and brands are choosing ways to directly reach their target audiences at a lower cost. The phrases echoing in clients’ minds are “recycling”, “adapting”, “reusing” and “decoupling”.

However, reusing a print ad for online media is impossible before converting it first to match digital media formats, specifications and requirements. And mere conversion is not enough. Online ads in general need fewer words, a larger typeface, and – in many cases – 3D effects and animations. This has to happen while maintaining consistency with the brand message and designs across other media channels, to protect the brand personality and identity.

Creating ads for multiple publications, both print and online, in different sizes, specifications and languages, while ensuring brand consistency, isn’t easy – especially without multiplying time and costs. That is when advertising production comes in handy.

So what exactly do we do?

We make the ads work, be they on TV, out of home, radio, press, posters, point-of-sale material, digital, mobile or any other channel.

We are the technical geeks behind any ad campaign. Our daily job involves layouts, resizing ads, typesetting, retouching, colour matching, video editing, broadcasting and versioning, creating mock-ups, translation, transcreation, proof-reading, dubbing, photography, subtitling and media fulfillment. We liaise with clients, ad agencies, media agencies, TV stations, radio stations, press, printers, point-of-sale material production suppliers and many more.

We do all that while strictly following the brand guidelines and applying technical rules such as ink weights, colour conversion into the appropriate formats for press, digital and packaging and digital content creation in accordance
with each publisher’s criteria. And let’s not forget the local guidelines.

While ad agencies might be given time to get their ideas flowing, we are historically squeezed to the bare minimum. “Can I get it in the next two hours?” is what we are used to hearing. And we have mastered those deadlines.

So, what have we learned about how to make the most out of your marketing budgets?

Think creative and technologies

Since everything is moving to digital, think how the creative idea will live online. Today, creative and technology are inseparable.

What are the platforms you will be using for the campaign to reach your audience? The decision on your technical production support has to happen as early as the time of briefing and brainstorming. And the key to selecting the right technical platform is first and foremost identifying your target audience and pinpointing the channels to be used to reach them. This will help you come up with creative ideas that will live well on the platforms that target audience is using.

Think adaptation

Think back to “reusing” and “readapting”: when briefing an ad agency on a new campaign, request for the creative content to be built in such a way that it can be multi-reused in the future and is scalable across multiple touch points.

Advertising production agencies can always revisit what has been created for your brand in the past and re-use the content. There are many ways to adapt and modify creative assets as a whole new idea while still maintaining brand consistency.

Own a digital library

Invest on a digital assets management (DAM) library where you can centralise, store, retrieve, distribute, upload and download digital assets. These might include images, photos, creative files, video, audio, presentations, documents and more. You can give controlled access to your agency partners, business partners and colleagues to access these digital assets.

DAM libraries enable creative workflow automation, archiving and backups, usage tracking, e-commerce and more. They are easy to use and can be accessed from work, home or anywhere else.

Marianne Azhari is regional managing director of Williams Lea Tag