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The rise of the in-house content studio

In 2017, Vodafone and Ziggo combined forces to form one telecommunications powerhouse as VodafoneZiggo. A strong content marketing strategy was crucial to communicating the connection between the two brands, as were ongoing commercials showcasing their joint offering across entertainment and technology.

Moving in-house

At the same time, many larger companies were forming in-house creative studios to take back some of the work from agencies and production houses. Times were changing, and more and more brand content needed to be delivered in hundreds of formats from TVCs to Twitter posts and TikTok ads.

“It’s usually about getting that knowledge back in-house and looking for greater efficiencies,” says Diederik Veelo, Ambassadors head of innovation and the founder of Cube. “If done well, it can be a smart cost-saving model for volume advertising. We’re seeing the trend grow quite rapidly.”

While brand assets are traditionally created and managed off-site with agencies, with an in-house studio, they could be centrally managed and created on the fly, allowing for dynamic, data-informed targeted campaigns. For a company like VodafoneZiggo, this made sense.

In 2020, the telecommunications company founded their in-house studio to centralise creative development of marketing assets. While agencies were still an ideal partner for sourcing big ideas and developing complex integrated campaigns, there was also potential for significant efficiencies with more day-to-day communications.

There’s always going to be a need for craft expertise and a second pair of eyes, it’s just in a different way. It’s a pretty new way of working for all of us, but I think it can be a fun new challenge.

Halbo van der Klaauw Founding Partner, Ambassadors

Creative + technology

Ambassadors had worked with Vodafone and Ziggo frequently over the past decade, usually as an indirect post-production partner for films including the more recent campaign featuring Ronald and his family in Enjoy It All.

Meanwhile, Ambassadors’ innovation Lab had launched Cube as a cloud-based platform designed specifically for production workflows and with the aim to make creative collaboration faster and easier. It had initially been started as an internal solution for Ambassadors’ own producers, but had grown to support clients’ production pipeline needs too.

Ambassadors as a creative studio, and Cube as a digital asset management platform, came on board to support VodafoneZiggo with the transition and ongoing content development.

For our team at VodafoneZiggo, having a partner like Ambassadors and Cube offering both the creative and the creative automation under one roof made a lot of sense.

Kim Buijs Lead Producer, VodafoneZiggo

One of the biggest challenges with in-house studios is getting the right balance between creativity and efficiency. Ambassadors offers high-end craft expertise from directing to editing, visual effects, color grade and sound design, while Cube helps keep all brand assets organized and in one customized location for easier creative collaboration.

“Ambassadors was no longer an indirect service provider for VodafoneZiggo but an ongoing project partner, which requires a real dedication and understanding of the brand,” explains Ambassadors founding partner Halbo van der Klaauw. With a longer-term focus, it became easier to troubleshoot any production pipeline issues, communicate issues directly, and build upon experience every time to make for better creativity. Having a craft partner like Ambassadors on board was crucial when the brief required something a little special.

When before all you really needed was a couple of cool TV spots each year, now there’s hundreds of more deliverables to get right that are just as important. A creative automation platform like Cube is essential to that solution.

Diederik Veelo Head of Innovation, Ambassadors / Founder, Cube

By using Cube for its digital asset management, VodafoneZiggo can now store everything on one platform for easier quality control and to better streamline the approvals process. Rights usage can be stored with the final creative asset, time-stamped annotations and feedback can be made within the same app, and there's no need to email across massive files to multiple stakeholders.

The broadcast export feature even allows TV ads to be sent to Dutch broadcasters directly from Cube. “In order to have the internal studio work properly, we need a smart library like Cube to organize and have control over our assets and rights usage,” says Kim.

Balancing volume and value

Bringing together technology, creative expertise, and in-house efficiency has made it possible for VodafoneZiggo to match their workflow to the level of deliverables needed for today’s marketing needs. “The need for specialist support from creative suppliers will always be there, just in slightly different ways,” says Kim.

By empowering a skilled in-house team, the dependency on external parties is eased, so external collaborations can be focused on high-level work. The ultimate long-term goal of shifting in-house? To be able to effectively optimize and scale content internally, while still staying on-brand.

“We’re very proud to support VodafoneZiggo along each step of the transition towards in-house. Cube is really designed to empower brands and agencies with their content production,” says Diederik. “And we haven’t even touched on the creative automation capabilities with Cube Compose yet!"