In New York, Graphic Systems Group is aggressively pursuing the “de-coupling” trend.
“We’ve been doing this for four or five years, and now Diageo [parent company of Captain Morgan, Ketel One, Crown Royal, and myriad other top liquor brands] is de-coupled, P&G is going it now, Pfizer has already done it in Europe and they’re bringing it to the States,” he says, noting that the whole concept of de-coupling was born overseas six or seven years ago.
“They started it first in Europe because of the complexity of the languages in the markets, and the need for more efficiency. When we release a campaign in London, for example, it’s always a master in English, but if it needs to go into the regions or other countries, it’s got to be translated. So part of our world is that we also do adaptations, where we adapt the English version into, say, the German market. It’s not just the language issue – it’s the cultural insight as well.”
Rediscovering P-O-P and out of home
Language and cultural barriers may not be key factors in driving the de-coupling trend in the US, but cost-savings are still a great motivator. And, by circumventing the ad agencies, Madsen’s company has seen a diversification in its production workload. Direct access to the client has opened the dialogue about GSG’s capabilities and, in turn, clients are bringing them work they might have missed out on when the agency acted as gate keeper and delegator of projects.
“Say I’m a brand manager for Colgate toothpaste and I’m in packaging – that’s a different group that’s going to deal with us for building the mechanicals and doing the prepress on the packaging than, say the marketing person who is handling the above-the-line campaign and doing the ads and using us for the TV,” Madsen explains.
“But, because we have a data-management system, all of those assets are now residing in one place like they never have before. So now the client or brand manager can do a quick sweep and look at the print, TV, radio, out-of-home, and large-format work we’ve done – or could do – for them, and see all the other ways we can work together they may not have realized before.”