In-house capabilities have become the soul of Beirut-based agency, its. Communications with manifold specialized departments launched in the past six months (its. Real Estate, its. Events, its. Health to name a few). Recently, fueled by the rise of digital video, and the increasing demand for low-cost productions for the likes of Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, its. Communications has yet launched another new department called its. Stories, dedicated to video production. Founders of the agency have come to realize that just having internal resources isn't enough -- production needs to occupy the center of everything the agency does, they say. ArabAd caught up with Ali Alawieh, manager of its.Stories to learn more about the motivations that drove Its. Communications to invest in in-house production capabilities.
Why have you decided to bring your video production in-house?
The need for brands to produce video content has increased exponentially, with brands favouring what they believe to be quick-and-easy productions over expensive, large-scale old school commercials. Production is a big department that requires 100% focus. We work B2B and B2C, so if you think big, you should go big. We tend to be fully attentive to the customer’s demands and be ready to deliver. Hence, we need a team that is ready on-call.
What can you tell us about its. Stories' team… Is it the same creative team that works at Its. Communications who gets involved in the making of videos, as we know today the best talents are hybrid creative-production people, like an art director who is also a motion graphics designer, or a user-experience designer who can also edit video. How is it working for you?
True that staffing the studios has gotten less complicated because talent now often does double duty in creative and production. Since its. Stories is a member of its. Communication family, it benefits from the departments in its Communications in terms of creative, graphics and other staff available. Its Stories adds the production experience in order to deliver A-class service. Its Stories is still one month old, and we are still recruiting according to our needs. We will grow gradually in the coming three months until we develop a robust production team-- with full staff and facilities, including a studio, audio services, editing services, animation, etc.
What's the total head count for Its. Stories production staff?
Total head count for the production staff remains to be seen, as that will be based on work flow.
Does this mean you have all it takes to self-produce high quality work and don't need anymore to hire third-party studios?
In the meantime, and as I said, until we have our build up process complete, we will still hire third-party staff and facilities.
It is known that the high demand for low-cost productions has narrowed the profit-margins of agencies that have to outsource projects. Has moving production in-house become a requisite to the sustainability of any agency today?
Everything is changing in the internet era. Gone are the days of high-budget, multi-day shoots for even the largest of enterprises. Because video is more accessible than ever, consumers expect brands to use a lot of video to create engagement, which means video production has to be nimble. Keeping a tight budget can be difficult when working with an outside vendor. The attraction for an ad agency to keep an advertiser’s film-production work, or some of it, by producing content it has developed in-house is obvious. Doing so will bolster its revenue and profit. But we may cite other reasons such as convenience, closer control of the production process, a quick turnaround and of course a budget too small to engage an independent company.
In the coming years, everything will be online. TVCs will vanish, and everything will be within the palm of the palm of your hands. This means that the demand will be always low-budget, high-quality production. Agencies are becoming more dependent on production, and any agency that doesn't have it will look vulnerable. It would be smart for agencies to have their own production, and its. Stories is created for this purpose.
Moving production in-house seems to serve agency profits, rather than client outcomes. Is it really in the client's best interests for communications agency to produce its commercials itself, rather than seeking bids from independent production companies on the open market?
I think that the agency knows and understands the requirements of its clients, and it would be easier and more professional to deliver the video service as well. It is a less headache for all parties and a faster way to deliver. Most importantly is to deliver the right product in the best way.
What are the current and future projects you’re working on?
As I said, we are still a young company. The sky is the limit. We currently started catering to our clients, and that’s the main priority for us now. In few months, we are going to expand to the region and other potential customers. Production is a big field and has many sectors, and we want to work in all these sectors. The plan is ready, but we will take it one step at a time. I promise that you will hear a lot about its. Stories' success in the very near future.