We transformed our production model for brands during the pandemic.
When it comes to production at an advertising agency, there’s a consistent challenge: clients want a full-service team that is completely dedicated to their idea. And in Los Angeles, clients have no shortage of options.
In the last year, we reexamined how production at Deutsch LA needed to shift in order to be on par with the best production companies out there. We realized that we needed to modernize our approach by leveraging our capabilities in more efficient ways, while at the same time focusing on talent and craft. We ultimately want to redefine what it means to produce something “in-house.”
By identifying talented freelancers and handpicking creatives across all talent bases – directors, editors, motion graphics artists, animators, designers, and more – Steelhead, our in-house production studio and one of the largest agency-owned production houses in the country – developed a robust roster of teams, with dedicated expertise. We also developed relationships with talent agencies WME, Winston Wolfe, WPA, UTA, and CAA, which made it possible to offer award-winning feature film and television directors for Deutsch LA projects.
From both a technical and strategic standpoint, we also fostered a unique, symbiotic partnership with Whitehouse Post, a global post-production house, which allowed us to tap into each other’s talent and facilities. Because Steelhead holds several edit bays as opposed to the standard one or two, Whitehouse is able to have its own bay in Los Angeles and access to Deutsch LA talent, while Steelhead can utilize Whitehouse’s global roster, including more than 40 award-winning editors.
I’m proud that we’ve been able to pivot in the face of the pandemic, no less. From our talented staff to our innovative partnerships, we have never been busier or more agile. Our restructuring has allowed us to do 360 campaigns – projects like nothing we'd ever done before and at speeds we’d never achieved. Things were moving so quickly, and clients had to keep up with the pace at which people were receiving information. We were given much quicker turnaround times, which necessitated we work smarter to work faster. All of this allowed us to continue executing the large TVC and film work, while also (many times simultaneously) producing the high-volume social, DCO, and digital portions of these campaigns.
Without the ability to set foot in the physical space, our in-house maker team got creative and built at-home, makeshift studios, where we were able to continue executing contained live action, stop-motion, and product tabletop shoots. In the case of Behr’s Mini Makeover program, the team created 3D-printed, hand-painted dollhouse-sized replicas of sets. Even though we couldn’t stage and shoot a real-life home, we could make mini-sized ones to help customers under lockdown visualize what their own home makeover could look like.
We are better staffed, yet nimble enough to work more furiously even in the face of the pandemic, when other production houses struggled to maintain workload.
For other clients that have required specific shots, we’ve had production designers build sets from scratch, which were then transported to our maker/DP’s home. They would then reassemble the sets with remote direction, and once everything was framed up, we’d start shooting. We also undertook one of our biggest animation projects – the creation of a virtual summer camp for kids called “Camp by Walmart.” This massive 3D animation campaign was all done remotely, made possible because of the capabilities and protocols already at our core.
If there’s one theme we’ve reinforced as a production-centric agency this year, it’s to help brands meet consumers where they are. We’ve learned what we’re capable of even in the strictest of constraints, and that pressure, combined with the very deliberate changes in how we restructured production at Deutsch LA, has not only set us up for one of our highest-volume years to date, but helps keep our clients ahead of what’s next.