The Future Of Digital Production



I have some pretty strong opinions about this.

The industry is in my blood. It’s been in my family for over half a century. I spent 30 years implementing change and bringing innovation into the biggest and the best shops.

Here’s What I Do

They are the foundations for everything.

  1. Understand What Clients Want - I study game changing techniques. These are the innovations coming down the track in this industry. I know what clients typically want. They invite me into their businesses to advise and mentor. They want me to tell them what’s coming. They want to know how (and what) they should do to turn forthcoming disruption to their advantage.

  2. Understand Existing Resources Being Used - I can get a rapid sense of the current situation. You will already be starting to get to know it. I would be able to tell very quickly how they operate, what are their customer models and whether they are working effectively. More importantly I would know whether they’re building the right stuff in the best way for where the clients need them to go.


Create The Team

Based on these two assessments we stand up a small team (3-5 people maybe) that would work alongside the client. This would be a highly capable resource and be situated where needed to do the work.

I would hand pick them based on the gaps in the above assessment. We would develop the opportunities that would emerge.

(NB: Without the insights from steps one and two this is pure projection but for example these are things we could do:)

  • Getting Future Ready - Posititioning the business for the future. Their story, their stance and their new business strategies. NBD - targeting and relationship development.

  • Packaged Up For Value - Identifying how to turn what they already do into more business value for clients.

  • Build The Broader Capability Portfolio - Better strategic partnerships or acquisitions. (Consultancy, Media, Creativity, Business Strategy)

  • Develop Services Portfolio - Bringing forward new models for services that clients value. Develop better packaging of their services and the business cases for them. (Data, Automation, RPA - omnichannel and beyond)

  • Organisational Readiness - Education and training for their front line on new ideas, tools/techniques and capabilities required to differentiate and grow

  • Attract The New Skills - Generate more diversification and creativity - talent strategies.


How We Would Deliver The Above

The above work would be heavily execution focused. Agencies don’t need opaque consultant techniques that slow them down and get in the way. We are all ex-agency people and we understand the mentality.

Our techniques would be hands on with a range of ways of working. The first base would be to gain complete alignment between us and the client. And then from small and precise laboratory style sessions, workshops, to hands on ‘practical’ sessions with new tools and techniques - relationship based education and experiences. We would bring our experience into their working environments.

We would make sure they enjoyed it and saw the value of working with us immediately.

The Opportunity For Craft

A production led business such as Craft has a compelling proposition already. ‘All your creative production needs - met.’

Clients would love it if such an execution oriented business could add strategy and brand/marketing creativity to that. Right now they know they can’t get it all in a single shop.

Tactically and strategically Craft are well placed to grab share. They will appeal to some clients and they can win from the pure creative and the pure strategic houses. Execution of campaigns is a vital capability.



We have built a collective. A collective model is a powerful thing. Because it’s flexible it can respond in many ways to widely different challenges. We can adapt dynamically as needs change. Our approach is simple. Identity the challenge, build the right team, agree a plan, develop solutions - execute.

Experienced - We have 3 decades working directly in this field. We were pioneers in developing how the industry should work. We changed so much of it to how it works now. But it needs another transformation and we can help.

Resourceful -  We have one of the largest black books in this industry. Full of great people who ask the right questions and who absolutely know what they are doing. People who can be trusted to do the right work and don’t need to be micromanaged.

We take this industry personally. All of us feel we are doing it for ourselves. Many of left the big agencies to develop these new ways of working. We saw the endgame. We didn’t like what we saw. We are a new breed of authentic, honest craftsmen and women.

How Did We Get Here?

It’s A Funny Old World Isn’t It?

You bang your head against a brick wall for 20 years. Then the world finally wakes up to what you were saying. Where once nothing moved now wheels start to turn. The change you’ve urged all along has started to sink in. Everyone around you thinks change is their idea. I’m good with that.

Technology changed the game. The rule became disrupt or get disrupted.


A Case In Point

As technology was in its infancy I was given an incredible opportunity. They gave it to me because I didn’t know enough to say no. I had to move a major global enterprise into the 21st Century. Someone had said we had better go digital.


The first focus was the production process. This was in a large marketing business. The process is notoriously craft based. Hands on. High pressure. Change at your peril. The good news is that they are great people at this end of things. They have to be because they do all the work. It has to get done.

These are the craftsmen and women who make the ‘ads’ and then they make them happen all around the world. I’m always nosing around in what’s going on that’s new and different. Ways to get things done better. Better is usually faster, higher performance, higher quality or lower cost. With digital change it was possible to get all four.

So we went for it.

In simple terms we went from using tapes to duplicate the ads and sending them for publishing using couriers, to a digital platform. This meant that rather than burn the commercials onto tape and spend millions on couriers, it could be done in a nano second.


Uploaded once downloaded wherever on the planet it was needed. Saving our clients millions of pounds in  time and cost and at higher performance to boot.

Nobody Wants The Change

Everyone alive gets used to working a certain way. Everyone gets used to it. It just works that way. Even when it shouldn’t. And there’s a whole lot of defending it going on when the time comes. How dare technology come along and throw their business into the winds. The business said it wanted change because it never believed it would happen but it did.

The Key Insights

Changing everything resulted in a lot of learning. Many lessons came from unintended consequences.

  • Marking Up Everything To The Client - The cost-charging model had to change. The business could no longer make mark ups on couriers or the enormous cost of tapes.

  • Data/Digital Changed The Game - How everything was stored, trafficked, accessed was revolutionised. With everything digitally available everyone could lay their hands on it immediately. If it was done correctly!

  • Reducing Long Production Cycles -How everything got done changed. How artwork got made and shared stripped a lot of cycles out of the process. It became far quicker and less costly for the agencies and that wasn’t as welcome as it may sound.

  • Now Anyone Could Do It - Whether it was a TV Ad or artwork for press, poster or even a digital advert everything had changed. This genie was never going back in the bottle. Every part of the production process - much cheaper and way more transparent than ever before. And the clients knew this.

The challenge now was knocking down the ways of working and operating. The shifts of habit and behaviour remained even when the processes had changed beyond recognition. These businesses still relied on the revenues they got from processes that no longer existed. Warning them off that was going to be extremely tough.


The clients knew this too. And if the agencies didn’t change then the clients and the competition would change it for them.

The world quickly moved to a plethora of channels. The omnichannel. It’s now not an ‘ad’ that’s needed - any piece of content put to work as a story across all channels and platforms. It’s about creating a brand and for that the clients need skills that can develop strategy and experiences.

The Agency Model

Creativity is an essential resource for business. In the past it’s been the domain of the few. Creative agencies with famous names in gold inlay signs over the door. There’s been great work. There’s been terrible work. The clients grew restless. Many ex agency are now clients. They now know it works. They are not happy. They are searching for fresh solutions.

Surprisingly small teams can hold large sway over global clients. They invent the brand and dictate the global assets that make it up. A single brilliant idea can span the entire globe. The difficulty comes in execution - the transcreation and distribution.

Execution is big money. Clients see and hear new techniques every day. Their agencies have been slow to innovate because it contaminates the business model.

Ideas have to be translated to local media and different channels. All over the world that cost adds up and agencies find it hard to manage that. And transcreation can happen poorly even in local single context markets. The way things have historically developed hasn’t helped the agency model. It’s been a war over revenue between the creative and the production departments - and the clients budget.  

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