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How a giant became more nimble

As audiences continue to evolve, so must the media and content creators.



David Rolfe, director of integrated production at BBDO, offered valuable insight during his keynote at the 2015 iMedia Agency Summit, explaining how his agency and team has become less rigid as media demands change.


Rolfe explained that BBDO has a broadcast heritage. "I call where we come from 'execution perfection,'" he said. "We all know that the polish and spectacle works. We've evolved." Audiences are looking for ideas that they can share. It's much more conversational.


He shared some project examples with summit attendees to highlight the range of content options and varying success.


The first was a Guinness commercial, which took many weeks to make.


The second was another Guinness ad, featuring athletic twins, which took a weekend to make, with a one-day online media buy.


The third was a social campaign for Lowe's "Fix in Six" on Vine, which Rolfe explained took about 10 minutes to make for a 6-second Vine. The Lowe's film was awarded at a short-film festival.


Rolfe asked, how did we do this? He answered that "turns out, the talent successful at creating big stuff, is good at making small stuff, too.  It's about the idea, the stories we want to tell."


He continued. "I've been doing this for a long time...I just think right now that the prolific landscape has these storytellers. They're not tied to the size. They're tied to the story," he said.


And when faced with clients or team members who see things differently? "We're trying to eliminate that 'no,'" Rolfe said.


Rolfe explained a quote from his boss, which helps drive the way BBDO addresses its campaigns: "Fast. Good. Cheap. Can't just pick two anymore." Rolfe explained that his team tries to do all three.


Traditional broadcast teams are no longer enough, Rolfe said. "I hated the term 'broadcast.' It seems too one-directional. I created the term 'integrated production.'" With this mindset, broadcast became an asset, a way to look at production more dynamically.


Advertisers need a new production model. We need to collaborate more. "Now we really need a system to capture more diversified content models," Rolfe said.


Rolfe also stressed the important of bringing a publishing model into the fray by focusing on content management. There are three ways to approach content:


There's cultivation -- which focuses on making the content yourself.

There's curation -- which includes collect content from various sources.

And then there's commissioning -- which is a hands-off way to bring content in.

Rolfe and his team are focused on expanding the intersection of idea and execution. There used to be just one way to do things, but that's no longer the case. There's the "infinite production" model, which means moving from making hundreds of things, to thousands.


There's a shift in the way agencies like BBDO are producing content. They work with traditional production partners differently. They forge new relationships with content outlets. They make much more themselves. There are scale-based production outlets for mass production and curation.


BBDO ties execution more intricately with strategy. The team works with its Social Studio, a 10-20-person department to help tie creation to context much more. Rolfe said, "This department is tied very, very close to production. In previous years, it probably would've been tied to creative."


It's important to consider the platform and experience over the campaign itself and dive deeper into the experience itself and the technology. Teams should create work for the proper context.


Rolfe's team elevated its short-form video campaign for Lowe's with the "Tap-Thru" Vine campaign, which focused on using tapping to pause Vines and offer much more content for the viewer when paused. "We're optimizing that in a different way. It kind of boggles the mind in what we can do in 6-seconds."


It can take some effort to convince traditional teams, Rolfe acknowledged. When faced with a hesitant team member, he reminds them, "If we don't make this work, the whole budget could be replaced by a tweet."


Nanette Marcus is senior editor at iMedia Connection.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

Nanette is iMedia Communications' executive editor.   In addition to her roles at iMedia, Nanette has served as a specialist in content marketing, editorial content, public relations and social media for various clients. She's contributed to...

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