Maine is known as “Vacationland” and Portland, Maine agency VIA decided to shorten that moniker to dub its new dedicated production arm, VCL.
The full-service production division at VIA has officially launched, after building its capabilities and staff over the last year. VCL already has a slate of clients, including those outside of VIA’s roster—and has already put out several campaigns.
Heading up VCL is VIA’s director of integrated production, Christopher McLallen, who was brought on last year to help revive the agency’s production capabilities.
“When I started, part of the allure that [former CCO Bobby Hershfield] and [CEO Leeann Leahy] had was they wanted me to help restart in-house production capabilities, which is how VCL came about,” McLallen told Adweek.
McLallen oversees the entire pre-production and post-production department, including broadcast, design, innovation, digital and social media content. Formerly, McLallen served as executive producer for SS+K.
Tied to the agency but separate
VIA wanted to build a production house that could work independently, as well as with the agency—and also be something to inspire the creatives. McLallen points out that VCL isn’t just another in-house production team that does versioning and essentially just extends what the creative team is doing. It’s an idea lab and a creative incubator of sorts, as well as a separate entity that elevates VIA’s creative and also comes up with its own concepts for clients.
McLallen partners with VIA’s head of creative technology, Layne Harris, to work out digital ideas and figure out how they can come to life with the VCL and VIA creatives. McLallen has also helped uncover capabilities in the creative team by finding out their passions and giving them a chance to develop those skills within VCL.
“We have people who are animators and illustrators … it’s tapping into people’s passions, as well as their everyday jobs,” said McLallen. “You’re hoping to not only excite those people who are responsible for doing that work, but the creative team that is partnering with them, so it’s trying to excite everybody and get that moving forward.”
New work has been created by VCL for a regional car dealership called Lee Auto Mall— and features unique customers talking about their experiences. VCL came up with the concept, the scripts, hired the team and did all the production and editing. The fun and quirky spots include one with a woman named Ina, who humorously takes over the set as she states why she loves Lee.
VCL is also helping to launch a new visual interpreting tech company called Aira, with work slated to go live later this month—and has projects in the works for Chick-fil-A and Klondike.
A sizzle reel shows VCL’s capabilities, including celebrity partnerships, end-to-end production, editorial, visual effects, animation and design, editorial and social—and the production house will also launch a new website soon.
VCL will still work with outside vendors like Mackcut and RSA, but with its internal staff, VCL is able to be a nimble extension of Via and a robust production house in its own right—and one that McLallen sees growing.
“The idea is to eventually have more of our own clients—and be there still to provide support to Via as the main client. But we hope to have other things that are independent,” said McLallen.