Wray Ward makes savvy, strategic decision to set up its own production studio near Bank of America Stadium

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The economics of running an ad agency in today’s media environment are difficult.

The days of creating high-margin, 30-second spots are coming to an end for ad agencies.

A week ago, WPP (the world’s largest ad agency), slashed forecasts as brands continue to trim advertising budgets.

“To the extent that we’re seeing growth in the total advertising market, we’re seeing a substitution of the Dollar Shave Clubs of the world for the Gillettes of the world,” Brian Wieser, a media analyst at Pivotal Research Group told the New York Times. “It’s the digitally native brands that are taking share, both from a consumer level and also when it comes to their spending on advertising.”

Agencies must evolve their service offerings in order to compete and grow.

Enter Wray Ward, a 98-person creative marketing communications agency, that just expanded into a 2,500-square-foot space near Uptown dubbed The Studio.

Wray Ward FORM

A look into Wray Ward’s fancy headquarters near Uptown at 900 Baxter Street.

Wray Ward has proven it has a sound strategic vision. The bold decision to launch an in-house production studio is just another example.

Not only is The Studio exciting for their agency and clients — it’s exciting for Charlotte’s creative community.

“Over the past five years, we’ve built a team with the talent and tools to deliver best-in-class motion and photography services regardless of scale, budget or location,” said Jennifer Appleby, owner of Wray Ward. “With a new, dedicated studio, we have enhanced the resources and flexibility that ensure we can continually provide our customers with better-performing work.”

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Huge credit to Wray Ward leadership for deciding to grow in the home category instead of becoming a regional generalist. [Agenda related story: How I Work — Jennifer Appleby, President & Chief Creative Officer at Wray Ward]

Building The Studio and its offerings wasn’t cheap.

The photo/video team at Wray Ward is now 10 people and the capital cost for state-of-the-art video equipment and editing suites is significant.

Wray Ward has slowly built this offering and team over the past few years. It’s expensive, but it’s paying off.

The agency is now able to go into a new business pitch and say, “We can provide better creative because we concept and shoot under the same roof AND we can charge less because owning a production facility makes us more efficient.”

What client doesn’t want better creative at lower than market cost?

Wray Ward’s new production studio located in the back left corner of The Foundry, near Bank of America Stadium.

Ceilings are 15- to 18-foot in height, thus allowing natural light.

The Studio’s main area is a wide-open space that can be super flexible depending on the type of shoot. There’s also a kitchen, lounge area and big conference room.

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Wray Ward’s video/photo team now has everything from video editing suites to a 360-degree camera to a FAA-certified drone.

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Here’s a link to some photography shot by Wray Ward’s team on behalf of their client, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

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Wray Ward clients include Crescent Communities, Dal-Tile Corporation, Eaton Lighting Division, Glen Raven Inc. and its Sunbrella® brand, Huber Engineered Woods LLC, La-Z-Boy Casegoods’ Kincaid Furniture, LEVOLOR, LG Hausys, Moen® and VELUX®.

Expect Wray Ward to continue hiring video, photo and production talent as they leverage The Studio’s capabilities to win new business.

Current Wray Ward job openings (7): Senior Project Manager, Account Lead, Designer, Insights Director, Search Manager, Digital Developer and Front-End Developer.

If you’re a young creative with talent in video, photography and production  — I wouldn’t wait for creative jobs to be posted, I’d be networking and pitching myself to Wray Ward leadership.

“We continue to align with the way people consume brand stories, and that’s increasingly through images and video,” Appleby said. “A dedicated studio space and cutting- edge technology complement the advanced skill sets and operating experience of our motion and photography teams. With The Studio, we have all the assets and resources necessary to tell our customers’ brand stories in creative, engaging and results-driven ways.”

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Ted Williams
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Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).