Design-driven, creative production company We Are Royale bridges the gap between innovative solutions and storytelling. Chatting with Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at WAR, Brien Holman, on their boundary-pushing creativity, we are given a glimpse behind the curtain of this dynamic company.
Can you give us a brief overview of your structure, capabilities, and client portfolio?
At any given time, we're faced with creative that necessitates a live-action shoot, a branded design system, an animation toolkit, a fully CG-animated cinematic, and/or a fully immersive multiplayer online game, among many other things. We are built to solve it all because, quite frankly, we're interested in the challenge of it all.
Executing at a high level across so many different verticals of production means being set up to lead a roster of experts. We have senior artists and developers who, in a vacuum, could probably execute any of the problems we face. But we scale, as do many other companies, with independent contractors who are experts in their particular field. Creative leadership and senior artists being in-house is a must; we have to speak at the same level as the experts to direct them toward the end goal.
How do you stay ahead of the curve and compete with large agencies or networks?
Our team is built to be nimble; everyone wears multiple hats. Perhaps that's a result of our founding philosophy: we really want to be in the business of solving creative problems rather than doing just one specific thing. When your eye is set on tackling any and all briefs that slide past your desk, you're in the business of adapting your creativity, rather than manufacturing it. Our team echoes that sentiment, and together, we seek out opportunities to do something new. Adapting technology and using it to further our creativity is a part of that and will continue to be a driving force in how we express ourselves through art, and consequently, how we express brands through marketing.
Briefs are getting richer, both in terms of the creative opportunities and the amount of time and money we’d need to pull them off, but finding time to explore within the brief is still a must. It's how any one of us will push the industry forward, and it's (sadly) the least amount of time offered in the schedule. Usually, you're faced with a quick turn on a pitch, and your exploration time has to get sandwiched in those short weeks. To counter that as a company, we have an internal initiative called ‘Playgrounds’ that encourages the team to share new skill sets, ideas, or trends. One of those Playgrounds is real-time technology, where our traditionally trained artists are immersing themselves and bridging their skills over into the Unreal Engine.
We also routinely host Creative Firesides, where we all talk about trends in the art field and how they will affect the work we're doing. It's easy to fear anything new, which is the phase we're at with AI infiltrating art, but we prefer to dig into it, learn it, and use it in our process where it makes sense. Basically, we're always looking towards the horizon to see how we can adapt the creative.
Many clients seem to be moving towards project work rather than the old AOR model. How, if at all, has that changed how you approach a pitch and how you position your agency to a Brand?
It all starts with establishing relationships with people who trust in our process and give us the latitude to push. While we've never espoused the AOR model with a brand, we have clients who have stuck with us for years, some for more than a decade. Those relationships have introduced us to new brands and new opportunities as they jump around.
In what ways does your agency’s size affect the way you approach campaign work? Can you give us an example?
At the end of the day, we are in the business of helping brands solve problems through compelling narratives and experiences. You know the drill. Regardless of the type of project – traditional campaigns, experiential marketing, or game design – our ability to scale enables us to react to any brief and find a balance between the creative solution and scope.
Our process is stellar; it’s as important to us as the end deliverables. We want our clients to have as much fun digging into creative solutions as we do. That affords us some leeway to push the boundaries of the brief or propose creative extensions that go beyond the ask and lay the groundwork for a future call. Sometimes that includes deploying new technologies, but there has to be a good reason for it. When we do find the right opportunity, we can make some amazing things happen that genuinely tread new ground.