Home > Creativity, Uncategorized > Can online production companies go direct?

Can online production companies go direct?

The new Coke Zero game is now available in English. (I know it’s not new news and I’m probably not the first one to talk about it. If you did before me, please let me know).
It is North Kingdom’s biggest project so far, after the very successful ‘Get the Glass’ game that won them gongs and galore last year.

North Kingdom is a very successful online production company and I believe they went direct to the client for the Coca-Cola game. Which makes business sense, as they can get more money to produce the game by cutting the middle man (the agency). And there is a (unofficial) saying that says that the more money you invest in online production the more likely it is to go viral…

It’s the equivalent of a successful production company starting to make TV ads directly for clients, without the involvement of an advertising agecny.

‘Get the glass’ was developped with Goodby, Silverstein and partners. I do not know how they worked together and how involved they were in the game development. I suspect they briefed North Kingdom and gave them some strategic guidelines. The result was a wonderful game that was actually selling the product in a engaging way. It was cute, charming, the game-play was great and it was spot on brief.

However, I do not see any of these things when I look at the Coke Zero game. Yes, the production quality is amazing, some of the scenes are really impressive and you can see the amount of work that went into it.

However, what’s the idea? What’s the story? Where are the chicks from? What’s going on here? The acting is not good. The satisfaction from playing the game is not that great either.  Where ‘GTG’ was brilliant and smart, I’m here left with a strange after taste that I don’t really know what is going. (And the guy can’t shoot!).

Which makes me wonder whether production agencies should really go direct to clients. I think the Barbarian group tried that a few years ago and it didn’t really work out. (please correct me if wrong). UPDATE:I was corrected by Benjamin who told me they were quite successfully doing 50% of their projects directly with clients. See the comments section.

Spending a great deal of money in online production certainly helps the work standing out, but I still think we need an agency involved to make sure the work actually delivers on something else that ‘wow great game!’. Just because it’s an online piece doesn’t mean it’s not advertising anymore. We are starting to talk big budget here, as this game probably cost more than £250K to produce, and even if it’s a game, it’s still an ad and should be treated as such.

Just my point of view. Open for debate as usual.

  1. March 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    i thought the game wasn´t coke zero´s voice or tone. it´s off strategy to me. an agency is aware of that, anyone else doing something with put them is an intruder and can fuck up things a bit.

  2. March 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    hey its benjamin from the barbarian group, correcting you because you’re wrong 😉
    for the last few years we’ve done about half our business direct with clients (successfully) and the other half with agencies, media companies, strategy companies, event companies, etc. (also successfully) – it all works just fine because we’re project-based, vs. trying to “own” clients like an agency. so we just kind of think of good ideas and then make them, for anyone who’s going to be a good client / collaborator. It works particularly well with clients that know a little bit about what they actually need, and we can concentrate on creative work and tactics, but of course some clients need a full service agency to figure out what they need in the first place.


    ceo of the barbarian group

  3. Digicynic
    March 11, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Benjamin.

    Thanks for your response.

    What I really meant with my question was more: should (rather than can) production companies go direct. Of course they can, you are a perfect good example of that.

    My question was more to see with the quality of the output of a prod agency with or without an agency involved. And from what I could see, it tends to be less efficient, on-brand, and successful when no agency is involved.

    Could you point us to some of your work you’ve done directly with clients?
    I also seem to remember years ago, that you had hired a strategist? So you have some of the skills an agency would have? Do you have ‘creative teams’ as well?

    The thing is all the amazing work I know from you guys was done with agencies (us included ;-).


  4. March 24, 2008 at 3:42 am

    thank you, bro

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