Its. Rolling Out its Sto­ries


In-house ca­pa­bil­i­ties have be­come the soul of Beirut-based agency, its. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions with man­i­fold spe­cial­ized depart­ments launched in the past six months (its. Real Es­tate, its. Events, its. Health to name a few). Re­cently, fu­eled by the rise of dig­i­tal video, and the in­creas­ing de­mand for low-cost pro­duc­tions for the likes of Instagram, Youtube and Face­book, its. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions has yet launched an­other new depart­ment called its. Sto­ries, ded­i­cated to video pro­duc­tion. Founders of the agency have come to re­al­ize that just hav­ing in­ter­nal re­sources isn’t enough -- pro­duc­tion needs to oc­cupy the cen­ter of ev­ery­thing the agency does, they say. its. Sto­ries is man­aged by jour­nal­ist Ali Alaw­ieh. Arabad met with Alaw­ieh to learn more about the mo­ti­va­tions that drove Its. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions to in­vest in in-house pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Why have you de­cided to bring your video pro­duc­tion in-house?

The need for brands to pro­duce video con­tent has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially, with brands favour­ing what they be­lieve to be quick-and-easy pro­duc­tions over ex­pen­sive, large-scale old school com­mer­cials. Pro­duc­tion is a big depart­ment that re­quires 100% fo­cus. We work B2B and B2C, so if you think big, you should go big. We tend to be fully at­ten­tive to the cus­tomer’s de­mands and be ready to de­liver. Hence, we need a team that is ready on-call.

What can you tell us about its. Sto­ries’ team… Is it the same cre­ative team that works at Its. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions who gets in­volved in the mak­ing of videos, as we know to­day the best tal­ents are hy­brid cre­ative-pro­duc­tion peo­ple, like an art di­rec­tor who is also a mo­tion graph­ics de­signer, or a user-ex­pe­ri­ence de­signer who can also edit video. How is it work­ing for you? And what’s the to­tal head count for Its. Sto­ries pro­duc­tion staff?

True that staffing the stu­dios has got­ten less com­pli­cated be­cause tal­ent now of­ten does dou­ble duty in cre­ative and pro­duc­tion. Since its. Sto­ries is a mem­ber of its.

April 2018 Com­mu­ni­ca­tions fam­ily, it ben­e­fits from our depart­ments in terms of cre­ative, graph­ics and other staff avail­able. its Sto­ries adds the pro­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence in or­der to de­liver A-class ser­vice. we are still one month old, and still re­cruit­ing ac­cord­ing to our needs. We will grow grad­u­ally in the com­ing three months un­til we de­velop a ro­bust pro­duc­tion team-- with full staff and fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing a stu­dio, au­dio ser­vices, edit­ing ser­vices, an­i­ma­tion, etc. To­tal head count for the pro­duc­tion staff re­mains to be seen, as that will be based on work flow.

Does this mean you have all it takes to self-pro­duce high qual­ity work and don’t need any­more to hire third-party stu­dios?

In the mean­time, and as I said, un­til we have our build up process com­plete, we will still hire third-party staff and fa­cil­i­ties.

It is known that the high de­mand for low-cost pro­duc­tions has nar­rowed the profit-mar­gins of agen­cies that have to out­source projects. Has mov­ing pro­duc­tion in-house be­come a req­ui­site to the sus­tain­abil­ity of any agency to­day?

Ev­ery­thing is chang­ing in the in­ter­net era. Gone are the days of high-bud­get, multi-day shoots for even the largest of en­ter­prises. Keep­ing a tight bud­get can be dif­fi­cult when work­ing with an out­side ven­dor. The at­trac­tion for an ad agency to keep an advertiser’s film-pro­duc­tion work, by pro­duc­ing con­tent it has de­vel­oped in-house is ob­vi­ous. Do­ing so will bol­ster its rev­enue and profit. But we may cite other rea­sons such as convenience, closer con­trol of the pro­duc­tion process, a quick turn­around and of course a bud­get too small to en­gage an in­de­pen­dent com­pany.

In the com­ing years, ev­ery­thing will be online. TVCS will van­ish, and ev­ery­thing will be within the palm of the palm of your hands. This means that the de­mand will be al­ways low-bud­get, high-qual­ity pro­duc­tion. Agen­cies are be­com­ing more de­pen­dent on pro­duc­tion, and any agency that doesn’t have it will look vul­ner­a­ble. It would be smart for agen­cies to have their own pro­duc­tion, and its. Sto­ries is cre­ated for this pur­pose.

Mov­ing pro­duc­tion in-house seems to serve agency prof­its, rather than client out­comes. Is it re­ally in the client’s best in­ter­ests for com­mu­ni­ca­tions agency to pro­duce its com­mer­cials it­self, rather than seek­ing bids from in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies on the open mar­ket?

I think that the agency knows and un­der­stands the re­quire­ments of its clients, and it would be eas­ier and more pro­fes­sional to de­liver the video ser­vice as well. It is less headache for all par­ties and a faster way to de­liver. Most im­por­tantly is to de­liver the right prod­uct in the best way.

What are the cur­rent and fu­ture projects and ideas you’re work­ing on?

As I said, we are still a young com­pany. The sky is the limit. We cur­rently started cater­ing to our clients, and that’s the main pri­or­ity for us now. In few months, we are go­ing to ex­pand to the re­gion. Pro­duc­tion is a big field and has many sec­tors, and we want to work in all these sec­tors. The plan is ready, but we will take it one step at a time. I prom­ise that you will hear a lot about its. Sto­ries’ suc­cess in the very near fu­ture.

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