Wall of Productions aims to fill the creator economy gap that traditional production businesses can’t
The creator economy has its fair share of problems right now: de-influencing, scarcer ad dollars and algorithm shifts, to name just a few. Unsurprisingly, marketers are in a tizzy over what this all means for the future of the creator economy.
To that end, Wall of Productions wants to be a calming influence — one that prides itself on being able to help marketers create the sort of entertaining content that’s usually seen on the feeds of some of the most popular creators. Sure, that sounds similar to what other production agencies say, but Wall of Productions has the track record to back it up. Founded by actors Percelle Ascott and Joivan Wade, the agency has gone on to work with brands such as Boohoo Man, Ann Summers, Spotify, McDonald’s and fast fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing.
And since the pandemic, Wall of Productions’ business has gone from strength to strength.
Wall of Productions’ evolution
The company started out as an online comedy network in 2015, and today it is well on its way to becoming the production arm of a broader marketing services business. Now, Wall of Productions is one of three subsidiaries alongside the original Wall of Comedy (distribution and marketing) and Wall of Talent (talent management) that live under the Wall of Entertainment umbrella.
The idea of the business is to give marketers a fresh take on their most perennial of problems: how to strike a chord with people who are either no longer seeing or are no longer interested in watching a typical 30-second advertisement. Instead, Wall of Productions could create a video, whether it lives on YouTube, TikTok or even a streaming service bereft of ads entirely, that conveys a brand’s ethos but carries none of the traditional branding hallmarks that audiences are used to seeing in a commercial or a pre-roll video.
As Taf Makopa, group managing director at the company, pointed out, Wall of Productions was one of the first platforms to produce engaging and entertaining lockdown content for brands including YouTube, Amazon Prime, Badoo, Footasylum and Azar — whose videos were all shot on iPhones at home. And since the pandemic, the business has grown stronger, increasing overall revenue from around £500,000 ($601,400) pre-pandemic to around £3 million ($3.6 million) now, with forecasts of £7 million ($8.4 million) for next year.
“We’ve honed in on our production arm because it’s our strength,” said Makopa, who identified co-founders Wade and Ascott as instilling in the company excellent production skills, creativity and ideas since the beginning.
Demand for this sort of expertise seems to be growing. Or at least it is if Wall of Productions’ momentum is anything to go on. The business expanded from an 11-strong headcount pre-pandemic to 27 people today. Makopa was brought on in December 2018 to evolve and elevate the platform into a sustainable business. “We currently have about four vacancies, but we’re looking for the right people,” he said.
Straddling the line between entertainment and marketing is a tricky thing to do — it’s something marketers have arguably been trying to perfect since the emergence of the soap opera. Wall of Productions, however, says this is exactly what it has been designed to do. That’s clear in the way it goes about developing ideas for marketers.
Wall of Productions’ overall strategy
For any show produced by Wall of Productions, talent is developed and engaged via sister brand Wall of Talent, and the finished product is promoted through Wall of Comedy.
“We spent a lot of time developing formats, which enabled us to sustain the business,” Makopa said. “Now they’re coming into fruition, so we’re flying off that success.”
Especially since Wall of Productions’ platforms of choice, YouTube and Instagram, are currently going through major structural and strategic changes — neither of which is an easy feat for any marketer to navigate.
But being a relatively small fish in a rather large pond hasn’t deterred Makopa and his team from competing against bigger rival agencies for budgets. In fact, he believes that in a couple of years, it’ll become a much fairer fight.
“Traditional TV is dying and that’s worked in our favor,” he said. “Brands now spend more on digital so the market is growing for us. It feels like everyone is now in our playing field, which is where we were seven years ago. We’ve been waiting for this trend to arrive.”
This is exactly what Ali Mankani, associate creative producer at Z2C Limited, a venture accelerator for marketing tech startups, has noted. He explained that since covid, the growth of over-the-top and digital content viewership has increased exponentially, and it’s still growing year over year.
“Brands are resorting more towards subtly branded content integrations to generate awareness without interrupting the viewing experience of consumers,” Mankani said. “Exposure of brands increases significantly as well when brands get virality through third-party content, which is more socially shareable and relatable for a contemporary audience.”
Take Wall of Productions’ flagship show for Footasylum called “Does The Shoe Fit?,” for example, which first aired in 2020. Episodes varied in length from just over seven minutes to just short of 18 minutes, depending on the content, the episode and the structure needed to make the best video. The show’s 27 videos have amassed more than 100 million views to date.
“A lot of the production companies before us know how to create ads which are set lengths, but we create content as long or as short as it needs to be. And that’s alien to how other businesses think,” Makopa said. “We’re not worried about the length of a piece of content. Our primary concern is the engagement and retention of that piece of content.”
While YouTube and Instagram best serve the business and its core audiences, Wall of Productions now invests a lot more time into TikTok, especially given its rapid rise, its premise centered around short-form video and, of course, its heavy use among Gen Z.
Creating packages that span across platforms
Despite adding another social network to its media mix, the crux of the Wall of Productions team’s creative process hasn’t changed. Makopa explained that once a brand gives the team a brief, people at all levels in each department prep ideas for an ideation meeting, and the best ideas are put forward to the client.
“We’ll go back and finesse the chosen idea based on the client’s feedback — this is where our writer, head of production, producer, director and talent managers now come together to really develop the idea,” Makopa said. “Our content needs to stand out and so our capabilities are limitless — this is one of the reasons why our clients like our approach.”
In comparison with traditional production agencies, Wall of Productions has a crucial unique selling point, said Mankani.
“With the help of a unified in-house framework that supports the produced content, from ideation to execution and delivery, they can execute more focused top-level branded-content campaigns for their clients by cutting down talent sourcing, production and distribution costs helping them achieve better margins,” Mankani added.
The most important aspect of the Wall of Productions’ creative process, though, is ensuring each idea can service more than one platform.
“It’s never a TikTok or YouTube or TV idea. The content needs to work across at least two platforms and be sustainable,” Makopa said.
This strategy requires a deep understanding of each platform and audience. As such, Makopa said he is very hands-on with obtaining feedback, whether by asking industry peers for their thoughts, dipping into comments on the content or having a team debrief after each shoot and once a show has been released.
“We’ve got expectations about how we think people should react,” said Makopa. “If someone says a video isn’t great, there’s something about the product that we need to work on.”
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