McCann takes on production specialists with Craft

McCann Worldgroup is taking on the independent production giants like Williams Lea-owned Tag with a big production arm of its own, Craft.

Interpublic-owned Craft says it is happy to work with other agencies and creative companies but has no plans to work with other agencies’ clients direct.

Craft is to be headed by McCann production supremo Fred Schuster (left) who joined from Ogilvy a year ago. It is launching in 23 markets worldwide.

Schuster says:“Craft was born in response to client demand for a consolidated offering that, at the same time, was highly local – they want the authenticity without having to deal with a dozen different production houses.

“So we leveraged McCann Worldgroup’s studio resources across the different disciplines offered, integrated, filled in gaps and added a marketing consultancy offering.”

Agencies have offered in-house production facilities with various degrees of enthusiasm since the year dot. WPP already has its Hogarth pre-media operation.

But the rise of companies like Tag has forced them to try to keep more of their business in-house, not least to avoid the possibility of just being able to charge one-off creative fees while another sort of company has a more enduring relationship with the client.

This is a particular issue for the likes of Interpublic and WPP whose business model depends on long relationships with big clients.

For Tag and the other production specialists it creates a problem. WPP agencies in the UK are already under orders to keep all such production work in-house, at Hogarth. If McCann, the biggest part of IPG, goes the same way it will be a headache of sizeable proportions.

The doubts about Craft, Hogarth and the rest centre on the ability of agencies to run keenly-priced production businesses. One of Craft’s big targets is the Asia Pacific market.

A correspondent advises me that Craft (or CRAFT) is also the acronym for a notorious adland-based luncheon club in China called ‘Can’t Remember a Fucking Thing.’

Let’s hope this isn’t an omen.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.