Decoupling – A view from Production

Decoupling or Centralised Production is the process where the client chooses to have a relationship directly with a production house rather than their Advertising Agency using their own in house facility or preferred supplier.

Historically the process of Decoupling began in the 1990’s in Europe and initially only involved print services. This has now grown to encompass digital and broadcast production and is gaining traction in the USA.

A Procurement team will shortlist a small number of Production Houses and then ideally the Client and the Advertising Agency will choose one that they both agree on. There are factors to consider other than just cost saving.

Ideally the Creative Agency should be involved along with the client so that the best service levels, working processes and quality of final output can be achieved so that everyone ends up with a collaboration that benefits all the parties involved.

This approach started with Media Buying, traditionally an Ad Agency in house resource which are now separate entities from Advertising agencies.

One example would be a client using an Ad agency that outsources to different production companies for their print, digital and broadcast requirements, consolidating those in to one production house should speed up the work flow and lower overall costs.

The Production House can hold all the brand assets which allows the client to easily add to their creative roster of agencies. The Production House can and usually acts as an additional brand guardian (alongside the Client and Creative Agency) which means they can walk any new creative team through the transition and provide assets, colour schemes, brand guidelines and advice if required.

Decoupling also reduces the cyclical nature of a Client or Agency bringing these services in house only to later decide to outsource Production. There can be large initial costs to setting up in house production teams for both Clients and Agencies which is why Production is usually outsourced.

Not all Production Houses produce the 3 main products of print, digital and broadcast so some Clients and Agencies may use a combination of Production Houses to produce their work. One downside to this method is it’s less time effective to share assets between the different disciplines. If one Production House holds all the assets then this can greatly speed up the cross media process.

Every Client is different and will have their own preferred method of handling their account, they may wish to have just one point of contact in which case they will use their Advertising Agency to organise their print, digital and broadcast requirements. Other Clients prefer to have a transparent costing process at each stage of the Creative and Production process.

Despite initial resistance, Ad Agencies are finding that they can focus on the reason they started, the creation of ideas.

All Production Houses will have a mixture of clients, sometimes dealing with Agencies, sometimes dealing direct with the Client and liasing with the Creative Agency on projects and campaigns.

There is no one size fits every solution, new Creative start ups rarely have a lot of Production resource but can end up winning very large Clients who have a Production House already in place, smaller Clients may not have the budgets for a one stop Creative Agency preferring to pay up front for a creative style and letting a Production House produce all adaptations.

The real key is flexibility and being able to offer bespoke solutions to fit every need.

If you’d like to know more, please drop us a line, hello@creation.uk.com

Nick Page 1st August 2013



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