New integrated shops bust out of the norm

Once upon a time there was an incredibly vital commercial production community in Chicago, with a slew of interesting, vital and profitable outfits pushing a wide range of directors serving something we called the regional or secondary markets.  

This was also true of Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Boston, Philly and Miami.  

Today, not so much.  Will the new post/hybrid companies make the same clumsy and fatal mistakes the production community made?

The first critical distinction is: production companies largely relied on the scarcity of regionalism and access for their revenue and riches.  With few exceptions, the local and regional directorial offerings were not of “national” quality, unable to compete in the larger arena.  

Without talent remarkable enough to compete in the big bad wider world, the prodcos were left to compete on price.  

That all came to a predictable and ugly end when the last SAG strike occurred and agencies and marketers discovered Canada, Argentina and beyond.  

Still, we were in the pre-internet universe.

Competitive imperative greater than ever today

director, new media guru, provocateurInstead of agencies being introduced and educated to available talent by seasoned sales reps, a push of a button brings you the universe which calls for a vastly different marketing and branding approach.  

Because of the awesome power of the web, all compete in a much vaster universe with prodcos, from Maine to Malaysia.  So the imperative to offer something better or unique is greater than ever.

While this is nothing new to the production community, it has been a slow education for the post community, which still largely follows the regional model.  Of course, many of the fancy houses have offices in Santa Monica, but they have primarily served the home markets. 

Local talent can compete with the best in the world

The advantage the Chicago and regional post communities have is formidable editorial talent and prowess that can compete with best available. Yet, up to now, they still cling to the regionalism model.

However, with the strong emergence of integrated shops (especially by post companies), not acknowledging the broader space, and clinging to the sales and promotional methods from the past, put them in peril.  

The combination of attractive sexy brick and mortar, seasoned and talented editors with young, strong emerging talent, presents unlimited potential in the larger arena.

Because of this, somehow it’s big news when Optimus, Foundation and others begin to roll out a national sales network, like their production counterparts.  Silly as it sounds, this is big news but it also is a long time coming and there’s a definite urgency implementation.

Integrated offerings are becoming the norm

A few years ago “integration” — offering soup to nuts — was enough of a novelty to bring some heat, interest and market share. Today you have to raise your game and bring something unique, special or excellent to rise above the fray as integrated offerings become the norm.   

Today these new formulas are compelled to bust out of the regional paradigm as the production community did reluctantly some time ago.  It’s an ominously similar pattern.

Reliance on ad agencies alone for business is also no longer necessary, there’s wisdom in diversification.

Dudes, acknowledge the mistakes we in the now diminished production community have made over time.  Open up the marketing efforts, while you aggressively hone, cull and clarify your brand story. There is as much opportunity out there as there is peril.  Crush it!

David Rosen is an independent director and a new media and integration consultant. Email,