A True and Open Partnership: A Warner Bros. Discovery Case Study

By Sebastien Slek

In July ANA released the report, "Procurement 2022: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." In that report, Sebastien Slek, executive director, global sourcing marketing at Warner Bros. Discovery contributed the following case study.

The Situation

Any given Friday at 5:30 p.m.: The final marketing meeting with filmmakers just ended. Physical creative materials are scattered throughout the boardroom. The meeting lasted longer than expected, but all the creative execs, the CMO, the movie producer, and key talent present are satisfied with the work, and the approved modifications can begin.

Every digital, print, and social media asset has been reviewed and validated. While some assets have been annotated, color-coded, grouped, and redrafted, many others were eliminated from the campaign master plan. Consistency in the storytelling is paramount. Each movie campaign requires a very precise alchemy between all its assets, from trailers to promotion.

A movie campaign is like a bubble-gum burst: it typically builds slowly, culminating in a two-week pre-release blitz, and achieves its peak by the time of the weekend box office. It has been in preparation for months in parallel with the movie production. Along the way, several creative approaches were taken and discussed for long hours in multiple rounds, leading to a great number of physical pitch boards produced. Most of them were abandoned before a final direction was approved, leading to the creation of hundreds of assets for the final campaign.

While creative teams are communicating with their respective creative agencies (print, social, audio-visual) regarding the decisions for each asset and sharing annotations and oral comments, another team is busy removing the sensitive materials that still hang on the rails by the wall or on the tables to be destroyed.

Creative agencies now have the rest of the weekend to make the edits, finish every approved asset, and deliver them on new physical boards by express courier on-time for Monday.

The Problem

During a business review with Global Sourcing, one of our creative agencies commented how manual, intensive, and cumbersome our creative process was in utilizing physical pitch materials — the printed boards, the pencil annotations, the courier delivery, and the physical destruction of materials. Under the existing pressures, this only added to the effort. Additionally, those time-consuming processes and unnecessary efforts were not environmentally neutral. Something had to be done to eliminate much of that waste.

The Solution

We listened and brainstormed how we could save time and money and create the conditions for a win-win situation for everyone. The solution determined was to update our manual process to be more digitalized and streamlined.

With the support of our agency partners and marketing execs, we built a holistic business case to equip the main creative boardroom with large touchscreens. We also sourced a new technology software to power those screens while supporting live and online collaboration between our creative teams and their remote agencies, with real-time editing available. The project ROI was very attractive (less than a year), and a no-brainer for Finance to approve the implementation of this initiative. There were also numerous environmental benefits, as well as quantifiable reductions in waste. The win-win objective was achieved.

Partnership as a Growth Accelerator

Nothing like this would have been made possible without a true and open partnership between our agency partners, our marketers, and our team.

We take great pride in our partnerships. For us, it is two parties sitting on the same side of the table, looking in the same direction and helping each other achieve mutually beneficial objectives.

It goes far beyond transactions, pitches, or negotiations. Our partnership strives to be a safe space to share ideas and best practices, and to co-create and innovate, while enabling cost and process efficiency. Simply put, such a trusted partnership is a growth accelerator, and the engine that propels our marketing organization and makes it so successful.

Explore more at www.ana.net/procurement2022.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Sebastien Slek is the executive director of global sourcing marketing at Warner Bros.