Tuesday, October 25, 2016
  • Friday, Oct. 14, 2016
BBDO Shows "Flare" For In-House Production Globally
Nick Price
Atlanta launch brings office tally to 14; separate new crowdsourcing initiative looks to build worldwide talent platform
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In 2013, AMV BBDO in London started an in-house production operation under the aegis of veteran producer Nick Price who brought experience spanning a wide range of projects from BBC-funded TV shows to ad fare, a mix that clients and the agency found appealing given the demand for varied online content. A year later the AMV BBDO unit adopted the Flare moniker and its business model began to spread to other BBDO offices, initially Colenso BBDO in New Zealand and then Clemenger BBDO in Australia followed by openings in such markets as South Africa, Colombia, Canada and Singapore. Flare also extended its reach to the U.S., emerging at BBDO offices in Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco. Flare currently maintains a total of 14 offices worldwide.

The Flare shops avail themselves of in-house talent but can also tap into outside production, post and VFX companies as well as freelancers, including directors. While BBDO offices remain very active in the more traditional business model of awarding business to and collaborating with top-tier production, post, VFX and other houses, as well as leading directors, Flare provides nimble production options which are necessitated by more challenged budgets and extremely quick turnaround times, particularly on the social media content front.

Price--who’s head of content at AMV BBDO and founder of Flare--noted that since its inception, Flare has created hundreds of films generating tens of millions of earned views, winning assorted international awards along the way.

Now two new wrinkles have emerged in the Flare pattern. Firstly, an office has formally opened in Atlanta under the aegis of Eric De Fino who serves as head of content production at BBDO Atlanta and its Flare unit. Separately a curated crowdsourcing initiative led by AMV BBDO is being developed to create a global talent pool/content creation platform that BBDO Worldwide clients can access.

Atlanta unit
BBDO Atlanta’s launch of Flare Atlanta is well timed as Georgia has become a high-profile production center. AMC’s The Walking Dead is shot in Atlanta, and recent research has pegged Georgia as the #1 location in the world for filming of the top 25 box office features of the past year. Other Flare offices--and for that matter BBDO shops worldwide--can liaison with Flare Atlanta for production support, expertise, crews and/or filmmaking talent to produce in Georgia, with the potential of realizing some savings by doing so. 

Conversely Flare Atlanta can seek out international production support with its Flare counterparts in other countries. “To be able to connect with a producer, someone on the ground, in another U.S. market or internationally who has relationships with local directors, DPs, production companies, and who knows where to shoot, how to get the proper permits, and so on is invaluable,” De Fino said of the Flare connectivity.

Price noted that this connectivity is grounded in “simply sharing information, case studies. We help each other out. If I am interested in shooting in Atlanta, I can give Eric a call. We share what we learn. Brands can benefit from us operating as an efficient global network. The guys in Colenso work more similarly to the operation in South Africa. They have a great back and forth going. We in the U.K. work similarly for example to the U.S. so there is an organic growth pattern between us helping each other out.”

At the same time, each Flare office has its own unique modus operandi. “In Flare’s London office,” noted Price, “the vast majority of directors are freelance or with production houses.” On occasion, added Price, Flare has the option of turning to a few AMV BBDO London creative teams who can shoot and have some directorial chops.

Meanwhile the Atlanta shop, which has been in development for the past year and actively producing projects prior to the official Flare launch there, has deployed in-house talent such as producer/director/editor Jim Issa the lion’s share of the time. This has yielded work for such clients as Sanderson Farms and Toys “R” Us, most notably in the forms of social videos and TV ads. De Fino estimated that 20 to 30 percent of BBDO Atlanta’s TV work is handled in-house by Flare, with the rest going to outside vendors. By contrast, most of BBDO Atlanta’s social media content has been produced by Flare.

De Fino explained, “Social is growing at such a fast rate, accounting for about 30 to 35 percent of what consumers watch. Social has grown at a rate of almost 30 percent per year for the last couple of years. More people are consuming content online than via TV in terms of hours. With that increasing online need, content needs to be produced faster and cheaper but at the quality BBDO has been known for. In-house production teams across the globe are being built to handle that.”

And more Flare offices are in the offing around the world, according to Price. He estimated that around 10 more BBDO offices will be adopting the Flare business model. 

There are also BBDO agencies that maintain significant in-house production units outside the Flare fold, two prime examples being BBDO New York and Germany. The latter maintains CraftWork for in-house endeavors. And BBDO NY’s in-house operation has generated momentum with in-house talent such as director Lawrence Chen, The NY and German operations can access the expertise and resources at any of the Flare offices worldwide. And Flare operations are free to seek help and counsel from BBDO’s in-house units in the Big Apple and Germany.

Flare Studio
The other previously referenced new development has BBDO Worldwide this month announcing the launch of Flare Studio, a curated crowdsourcing initiative developed to meet the rising demand for diverse and authentic video content for an online audience.  Led by AMV BBDO in London, the initiative gives clients access to a global talent pool of creatives, filmmakers, production companies and influencers through a content creation platform managed with the reassurance and quality of the BBDO brand.   
“There is an insatiable demand for video content,” said Ian Pearman, CEO, AMV BBDO.  “Flare Studio has been created to help our clients meet this exploding demand, and to demonstrate how BBDO can handle this increased volume, quickly, efficiently and with the highest level of creativity on a global scale.  We call it curated crowdsourcing.  It makes sense for AMV BBDO to serve as the pilot for the program given our strong track record in creating content and attracting best-in-class talent who are used to working in the discipline.”  

Flare Studio rolls out with Mars as its inaugural client partner. “This is a demonstration of our belief in uncommon collaboration both internally and externally with the goal to create the most relevant and impactful content for our brands,” said Leonid Sudakov, global chief marketing officer for Mars Petcare.  “We are very pleased to be partnering with BBDO to contribute to a massive transformation of content production.  Flare Studio will give Mars unprecedented access to a global pool of creative talent and we are excited about the unique ideas that this crowdsourcing collaboration will generate.” 

Flare Studio is a crowdsourced service that will draw on the global talents of freelancers, filmmakers, influencers, videographers, production companies, established directors and others, who will be invited to compete for briefs posted on behalf of BBDO agencies and their clients.  The model is built on a system of tiers (Open Studio, Studio Plus and Studio Pro) which can deliver content to fit different solutions and budgets.

Flare Studio builds on the digital and social content work that has already been implemented by AMV BBDO via its in house content arm Flare, and takes it to a whole new level. Producing both in house, as well as running an outsource model, Flare has won over 80 major awards, according to BBDO.

“We are now able to offer our clients a unique model that provides a different approach for every type of content that any one might ever need,” said AMV BBDO/Flare’s Price.  “Flare Studio is a bold undertaking – bringing the benefits of the crowd but also injecting it with the right amount of agency know-how to make sure the work reflects an understanding of our brands and can work for them within the crowd source model.  That’s a very different approach from anything else in the market.”

The alluded to three tiers of Flare Studio are Studio Pro, Studio Plus and Open Studio. The top tier Studio Pro, explained Price, is for established, accomplished, prolific directors. Studio Plus taps into talented directors who continue to progress and hone their craft. And Open Studio, continued Price, democratizes the process, providing opportunities for new directors to show their talent.

Mars and AMV BBDO will also be partnering with the U.K.’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) as a way to give back to the content-making community.  Together, these organizations will offer two £25,000 (nearly $30,500) scholarships to the National Film and Television School.  The activity will form the basis of Flare Studio launching “The Flare Foundation,” which will put a portion of its sales revenue to training those who are active on the platform.  From scholarships to leading film schools, to grants for equipment, training courses and work placements, The Flare Foundation will invite active members of the community to apply to win the various training awards being offered.  The Foundation will go live in 2017.
Commented Nik Powell, NFTS director, “Flare Studio and the concept of curated crowdsourcing is an incredibly exciting and progressive idea that our students are most certainly going to benefit from.  We are extremely grateful for Mars and BBDO’s support in giving our students this opportunity as well as the scholarship.  We take this area of creative filmmaking very seriously and have recently announced a new Directing Commercials and Promos Diploma which will start in January 2017, and we expect the students who enroll in this exciting new course to be very involved in our work with Flare Studio.”
Plans call for Flare Studio to roll out across the BBDO network in 2017.