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Why Decouple Production from Your Agency?

12th August 2020
Reading time 4 min
Why Decouple Production from Your Agency?

Many marketers have different opinions on production decoupling – and it may not, in fact, be the right approach for every brand. Many argue that media and creative shouldn’t be decoupled or that decoupling makes sense only when it comes to digital. Realistically, companies should consider their overarching strategies and resources before deciding if it is right for them. If a brand’s campaigns require a lot of production work, they may want to consider decoupling. However, if a minimal amount of assets are required, the brand’s agency of record may be enough to handle all ideation, production and distribution services throughout the campaign.

”More and more companies are turning to decoupling and utilising a single, specialist production house to manage all of their campaign’s production services.”

Reasons to decouple

  • Many agencies have compensation models that heavily depend on production work to subsidise remuneration for ideation, and therefore, costs can be quite steep.
  • For industries, such as retail or Telco, who have high volumes and fast turnarounds, an independent agency may not be able to provide the desired economy of scale.
  • Specialist transcreation houses have implemented effective workflows and processes to speed up production, and offer lower overhead and low-cost options.
  • Multiple agencies can be employed for ideation purposes, making it possible to gain economies of scale at end production with a single production house.

Challenges for marketers in production decoupling

Marketers may face some of the following challenges:

  • Some production houses only offer regional services that don’t meet marketers’ global demands.
  • Costs for traditional production services have already been benchmarked within specific industries, and therefore, procurement and production houses may have to consider new pricing solutions.
  • When instituting decoupling methods, planning for demand is crucial. For example, the number and types of production houses, pricing models and so forth must be evaluated in accordance with demand.
  • Prices are becoming increasingly high in certain markets, e.g. where regulatory requirements are necessary for outsourced services.

Because of the nature of production decoupling, agencies can, oftentimes, be defensive when sharing projects and want to manage campaigns themselves from start to finish. It is important to communicate the decoupling process in the initial stage, i.e. during the agency pitch. Marketers should clearly make a distinction between the creative ideation brief and the production one. The tier-one agency is responsible for the creative development and must collaborate with the tier-two provider to make sure the assets are consistent.

The mark-ups and hidden benefits

Marketers can ask their agency to disclose their suppliers’ mark-ups, rebates and other extras they receive for providing business opportunities. In fact, a “right of audit” would be the best-case scenario. Some believe that this approach is no longer applied in most countries. However, mark-ups are very much still in play in many markets, and markets have the right to question them openly.


Every agency should support their client and work toward successfully fulfilling their brand and campaign requirements. Realistically, at times, there can be a disconnect between agency talent and clients. However, the agency must fully realise that they are obliged to ideate the most efficient campaigns in their power, trying their best to stay within budget constraints.

Best Value

Agencies must always provide the best value possible. However, sometimes, problems can arise, such as short delivery times, which must be handled. Agencies should compare vendor prices to get the greatest value; oftentimes, too many favours and acquaintances are used to deliver assets on time and within budget constraints.

Exceptional Quality

Depending on the campaign requirements, agencies must consider the quality that they must provide. If it is a short-lived, ad-hoc offer, perhaps fewer resources are needed to get the job done.

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