How 'Decoupled Production' is Changing The Agency Landscape

“Decoupling production” has been a trending phrase for several years in the advertising industry. Advertisers in the UK and Europe have been employing this concept successfully for over a decade; decoupling production from their ad agencies at an increasing pace. 

Now, we are seeing this tactic gaining traction in the United States to meet the requirements and demands of advertisers. Brands are increasingly seeking greater control, efficiency and transparency across their marketing spend, and decoupled production is a sure-fire way to achieve this. 

While it is rising in popularity, the decoupling concept is not totally new. Ad agencies historically provided three things for the clients, including ideation, production and media buying. The same agency would handle all three of these tasks. 

However, with the rise in different platforms (outside of television, print, and radio), the benefit to having one agency control the production process in its entirety no longer makes sense. For example, just because an agency is great at ideation doesn’t necessarily make them the best choice for production or buying. This is where the decoupled approach comes in. 



Increasingly, companies are retaining a single production company to take on all their production work, regardless of whether the ideas were generated by an agency or by an internal creative team. That said working in a decoupled way means that advertisers can also contract multiple production partners. Whatever the case, centralizing production work under one main banner brings many benefits: 

Creative Freedom And Hollywood Quality 

Once production is decoupled, brands now have the freedom to generate ideas from wherever they choose; whether it be boutique agencies, internal teams, or even their audience. 

This freedom to ideate also appeases consumers’ hunger for well-produced quality content which has been cultivated as video is watched on more platforms than ever before. Decoupled production companies are uniquely positioned to deliver the level of production and storytelling to which consumers are accustomed because they can be “talent neutral,” hiring whoever is the best fit for the job at hand. 

Deep Expertise And Focus 

A specialist decoupled production company will bring a breadth and depth of production expertise and know-how that an agency can rarely match. Just as importantly, a decoupled production company is laser-focused on amazing production, rather than splitting its focus between other disciplines. And, traditional agencies do not typically produce themselves. They would engage a production company for the execution or they might have an in-house production department (though, that seldom happens for higher budget productions). 

Cost Control And Transparency

A traditional agency may hide and obfuscate real costs behind a rolled up quote. Hiring a production company directly affords a company much more transparency into costs. Consolidating all production work under a single production company allows cost sharing across projects, and volume-based cost efficiencies. Plus, traditional agencies bill per hour whereas production companies work using an overall production budget, so there are no surprises when the bill is delivered. 

Global Scale

In many cases, a decoupled production company will have access to a global network of resources that can be scaled up as the client’s demands and deadlines intensify. Brands can capitalize on the expertise decoupled production agencies have across multiple local markets, with resources that have a natural understanding of cultural nuances that might affect the messaging in that particular market. This ensures a more specialized and high-quality product tailored exactly to the audience being targeted. 


Never before has there been such a need for content than in this day and age. The traditional agency business model is selling hours, meaning they will generally take longer to adjust or change during the production process. Dealing directly with a decoupled production company, whose business model is to get it done as swiftly as possible, will almost always ensure quicker results. 

In addition, instead of having to communicate with the brand via a traditional agency, a production company and director now have access to the brand directly. This means there are fewer channels of communication to go through (expediting the production process) as well as decreasing the chances of any miscommunication. 

Brand Integrity, Efficiency And Consistency 

Using technologies like media asset management systems, a decoupled production company ensures a single “source of truth” repository for assets, maximizing reuse and avoiding duplicate work. This also ensures brand integrity and consistency across content projects. 

While the benefits to switching to a decoupled production strategy are apparent, there are still major challenges when it comes to changing the way brands operate. The current advertising production model is well entrenched in most brands and agencies process. So, it’s important to explain how this new model benefits brands from start to finish. Changing workflow is easy, but altering traditional processes is not. It’s simply a matter of time before decoupled production will assume its role as the de facto way for brands to produce the type of content their audience is longing for.

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