I have been giving new business presentations a lot lately to a variety of companies that could benefit from our services. One thought that has been resonating is integrity. It comes up mostly in the context of decoupling; there is a lot of production decoupling going on these days.
In my role as a production consultant, I am asked to render all kinds of judgements, mostly, relating to whether or not a production budget is optimized for the approach the ad agency is recommending. On occasion, my client’s brand manager will ask - can this project can be decoupled? What kind of savings could we expect if we were to do so? In previous positions this question has set some of my partners and employers hearts racing. Their thought being an opportunity for quick profit on the production.
In my view, this can be a clear conflict of interest for the consultant. Production consultants are asked to share their views on the viability of plans and validity of the costs in the agency’s approach.
Could it be produced for less? Of course.
Could I or one of our consultants produce it for less? Probably.
Many years ago, my agency’s music department was popped for embezzlement, two music producers were fired with cause. My management spoke to me at length about how our holding company was basically auditing all of my work because of the nature and volume of the major accounts I worked on.
In other contexts, I have heard of production consultants making ridiculous sums on decoupled projects, because no one was keeping an eye on the trusted consultant.
Both experiences have long ago reinforced my view that integrity is central; one has to pay strong attention to your inner compass.
My solution is to candidly discuss conflicts of interest openly with my brand team and work to find appropriate solutions. When there is no conflict, most often because there is no agency, then yes, we take a hands on approach and produce or assign the work to a producer, project manager or production team. I act as production consultant on those costs, being sure our brand team has a clear understanding of the cost structure and validity.
This may seems simple, but I can tell from experience, conundrums abound!