Cutters Studios has appointed David Morgan, formerly ECD of Havas Tokyo, as the company repositions itself to offer creative as well as more traditional production services.
Morgan does not have a specific title at this point, but his role will essentially be that of a “floating” creative director with hands-on involvement in the work, he said. Morgan has spent the bulk of his career in advertising agencies, having started out in London and moving to Tokyo in 2005. Before Havas, he was ECD of Ogilvy Japan.
Morgan said after working as an ECD in agencies, he wanted to have more direct involvement in execution. He said he thought the role of agencies and post-production companies had moved closer together. “I think there’s an opportunity on both sides to develop new ways of working and ultimately produce work that satisfies the ambitions of agencies, clients, and the people involved in putting it all together.”
Explaining the thinking behind appointing Morgan, Ryan McGuire, managing director of Cutters Studios, said he wanted to fill a gap in the market by simplifying the way creative services are delivered to brand-side clients. He said the typical process, where agencies take the lead and enlist production at the end, meant content is often executed too slowly and failed to take into account the expectations of the social media age.
“If I were a large brand, I don’t think I’d want to go a day where I’m not engaging with the consumer and that’s going to be via video,” he said. “We think we can make it better, faster and more effectively.”
At the same time, he said clients must understand that “agile” content means forgoing multiple rounds of revision. “The thing about agile content is it’s not a crafted message,” he said. “It’s the accumulation of these little messages that make one message. We can’t judge it every day—it’s something we assess after a month, or after a quarter.”
McGuire said brands would benefit from having fewer people involved in the process. Using a restaurant analogy, he said: “If your burger goes through three people, there’s a bigger chance of it going wrong than if you were talking directly to the chef. We want to continue working with agencies but want to do so as partners where we’re working with them to create ideas we are aligned on with the brand, so instead of getting passed down the line, it’s more of a triangle.”
He added: “You need to get rid of the back and forth and cut the pipeline down to the bare minimum and continue to revise it. The world is not going to move slower, so we have to adapt. People are holding on with white knuckles hoping the budgets are going to come back to $1 million for a 30-second TV spot, but it’s not going to happen. I have to take my red pen [to a project and cut people out], but the good news is the reckoning is not only on its way, but pretty much here.”
He admitted that “there’s still a hell of a lot we need to figure out”, but said Cutters had decided to move in this direction because it had received an increasing number of requests “to do ideation in addition to execution”. He said Cutters would work with freelancers as well as using its existing team, with Morgan overseeing the projects.
But he added that “in an ideal world, we are without that hierarchy that makes it difficult for people on the bottom to challenge the ideas of the people at the top. Everyone should be comfortable to share an opinion, no matter how experienced you are. There’s always a young kid somewhere who’s got a better idea than you.”
In parallel to the change in direction at Cutters, Mitsuaki Timo Otsuki, the company’s former executive producer, has embarked on an ambitious venture that also seeks to raise the value of the sector by putting emphasis on the role of directors.