EVB Embraces Production Roots

NEW YORK Like many digital agencies, EVB began as a production house for traditionally minded creative shops. It’s now going back to the future.
After years of working only with its clients, EVB is separating out its own production resources into a dedicated unit to work for agencies. EVB Productions will build sites, produce digital video and do other production work for outside agencies and clients.
The deteriorating economy factored into the decision to again work for agencies, according to EVB CEO Daniel Stein (shown at left). The San Francisco shop has focused on not just building its own client relationships but executing through-the-line work. That’s shifted its business from being nearly entirely digital two years ago to now being 50/50 Web and offline. That left the shop with excess capacity.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say we weren’t being resourceful with what we have,” said Stein. “That doesn’t mean we’re any less dedicated to it.”
The recession has hampered EVB. It has shrunk from 65 people to 40 today. It lost longtime client Adidas when it consolidated its digital account with Riot, a dedicated Omnicom unit for the Adidas global digital account.
Andrew Walter, EVB’s vp of delivery, will lead the production unit, which will have its own budget and new business person. It has 15 employees.
EVB is not the only digital agency to embrace production. R/GA has built a separate digital studio that works both on its own client work and for other agencies. AKQA has done the same in London, a model it plans to bring the U.S. Shops like Barbarian Group and Big Spaceship do a mix of production and agency work.
EVB is already at work with a Los Angeles agency on a project, Stein said. The outside work will result in helping the agency’s client work improve by keeping the shop up to date on new technology.
“We have to find ways to keep our digital skill set sharp, Stein said. “In years past it’s been the kind of thing if you do in-house production, it’s being a second-class citizen to a real agency. We don’t believe that. Our creative ideas are great and our production is too.”
Nine-year-old EVB has worked to establish itself as an agency in its own right following well-received work done with creative shops like Crispin Porter + Bogusky (“Whopperettes”), Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (“Eagle F1”) and Toy New York (“Elf Yourself”).
It has since shifted to do through-the-line work, including TV and print. The Golf Channel aired two EVB-created TV spots recently and it has print work in market for Muscle Milk.
“As we grow the agency into the non-digital world, we’ll have capacity,” Stein said. “We could walk away from that or we can embrace that and put them to work on other stuff that’s out there.”