Why Media Agency Executives Should Act Like Movie Producers

OMD's Greg Castronuovo is inspired by Harvey Weinstein

The content revolution is changing the role of media agency executives as they move beyond planning and buying into overseeing the production and distribution of content. As a result, argues OMD West president Greg Castronuovo, agency players need to function like movie producers. Case in point: OMD West's U.S. "Live in Levi’s" effort, which was designed for cross-channel execution across TV, cinema, print, out-of-home, digital, mobile and tablet. The push reconnects with the brand’s roots and reinforces the connection between the iconic brand and its new Levi’s Stadium.

Why do media agency execs have to operate like producers today?
Let’s use producer Harvey Weinstein as an example. Harvey doesn’t write the script, hold a camera or direct actors. What he does is bring together all the people who do those things, leveraging his power in the industry to get exactly who he wants. He’s the money guy who makes the deals and keeps it all moving toward the end goal of a story connecting with the audience. That’s what media pros are doing now: We bring together all the players needed to tell a specific brand story and then get it to consumers. We start with the strategic insight and identify the best partners and platforms with which to tell the story through media-driven strategies. 

Are you trying to assume a role more like creative agencies and production houses?
We’re not trying to compete with creative agencies or a production company and produce our own content. The story still starts with creative. We’re just leveraging the power that we have as the money managers to expand it across as many platforms as possible. Our job is to make sure we’re distributing content in the right places and to also make sure we’re able to measure against it and understand what kind of performance it has.

How do you pitch marketers about working this way?
We’re brokering the deals and inform the client about them. Before clients go out and talk to talent and produce a very expensive piece of content, we say, "Let’s leverage your media dollars first and maximize your spend because there are so many choices and opportunities." We feel that’s the first part of the conversation. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go out and produce a beautiful 30-second or 60-second TV spot, but there are other ways to develop content that can augment traditional TV spots.

Where do you find the people who think and work this way?
If you think about the old days of spots and dots, we now look at that spreadsheet as a programming grid across platforms and technologies. We look at content, in what used to be the spots, as anything from extended video and documentaries to an app or a new way of using a display platform like Flipboard. In the past year we’ve hired people from Google Glass, artists, mathematicians, trend consultants, people from fashion start-ups. We hired someone in our business intelligence group who studied biological data. We had a writer who did writing on the first season of House of Cards and we've hired from talent agencies like CAA. We blend all these people with folks who have spent their careers at a media agency, who go really deep into it. We represent the intersection where Madison meets Hollywood meets Silicon Valley.