An interview with Richard Glasson, CEO of Hogarth Worldwide.
1/What prompted you to start Hogarth?
We saw the need for bigger and better production agencies that, nine years ago, were mainly providing print ads for clients like retailers – promotions and local offers – that creative agencies weren’t geared to do. When we started we focused mainly on localisation and adaptation.
Now, driven by client demand, what we do is marketing implementation: we produce marketing and advertising of the highest quality and put it in the right forms and the right places on a global basis. We provide an essential role in bringing brands’ marketing strategies to market.
2/What challenges did you face in the early days?
Along with some other agencies, we were a disruptor and inevitably there was opposition. Forty years ago creative agencies controlled all the budget including media. Twenty years ago it was everything but media. Now it’s split more evenly as brands look for the best solutions for creative, media planning/buying and production.
But production is a specialist activity, made more complex by the volume of content, number of channels and globalisation of communications.
Cost control on the part of clients has obviously played a big part in this – with more financial control, procurement and ROI measurement. Our role has become bigger because we can bring tangible cost efficiencies through output-based pricing.
3/What exactly is your relationship with WPP? How does this affect your relationship with other agencies?
We’re 64 per cent owned by WPP so obviously the relationship is a close one. Interestingly our numbers are included in its digital division which shows how the industry and what we do has changed. But we operate as an independent company and work happily with other agencies. We can offer them the scale and reach they require and they can concentrate on strategy and creative execution which is what creative agencies have always been best at. As far as we can see, they always will be.
4/How much of your business comes from agencies and how much is direct for clients? Has this balance changed in recent years?
We’ve always had direct relationships with clients. Since we launched Hogarth, their production needs have increased and their desire to control the production relationship has increased too.
But agencies will always be important: we work with The&Partnership in New York on Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal for example, handling fast turnaround print and video advertising. We’ve set up a dedicated unit to produce work for Grey’s clients in the UK and US including Procter & Gamble. And we have another collaboration with BBH on Kraft Heinz where we handle all the primary production, including TV, outside the US.
5/Where do production agencies stand in today’s advertising ecosystem? Is ‘production agency’ still an accurate description?
We believe we’re central to the marketing process because advertisers these days need to operate consistently and effectively in so many channels and in so many places. This requires a specialist. And it’s the production specialist who holds it all together for clients and acts as the glue.
We prefer ‘marketing implementation agency’, which may sound like jargon but more accurately expresses what we do. Production agencies originally grew out of agency studios or studio people going their own way. Now the sector is much, much bigger than that and what we do is far more complex.
Hogarth were actually quite late to the party, the revolution was well under way 5 years before their inception, with the likes of Paperhat, TAG and Williams Lea.
Paperhat had de-coupled Sony’s ad production from Saatchi and Saatchi in 33 markets, saving €4.25m in the first year ( client figures ) five years before Hogarth existed.
And with the utmost respect to Barry Jones, Kevan Thorne and the team it wasn’t exactly flying until their super salesman ( Sir Martin Sorrell ) joined the party.
Nevertheless a fine achievement, just a little accurate perspective required for Richards story !