HeydSaffer relaunches as production agency The Deli

Toronto-based production company HeydSaffer has renamed and relaunched as The Deli, a “production agency” combining the expertise of a production company with the creative capabilities of an ad agency.

The new hybrid model is meant to solve the persistent problem in modern marketing of treating production as an afterthought, say co-founders Cynthia Heyd and Kevin Saffer.

How a creative idea gets made should be as important as the idea itself, but for the most part brands and agencies have prioritized media strategy, creative strategy and brand strategy, said Heyd. “And then it’s like ‘Oh yeah, now we have to get it done.’ And it just can’t work like that anymore,” she said. “We’re really taking that model and flipping it on its head.”

“Our goal is to be at the table sooner, so that the producers are involved right at the briefing level,” said Saffer. “[We] actually know exactly what needs to be done, what needs to be produced, and we have a view to it all.”

This way of creating campaigns should remove layers between creators and brand decision-makers, leading to better and more meaningful discussions earlier in the process about how to produce work with the resources available, they said.

“And frankly, being able to have those awkward conversations about money that nobody wants to ever have? And saying, Okay, well, let’s talk about what we can do,” said Heyd.

Being an “agency” with creative talent means The Deli hopes to work directly with marketers more often to not only execute a creative idea, but come up with the creative idea in the first place. They have some creative talent on staff, including a roster of directors, senior creatives, experiential marketing specialists, and photographers who can produce work for broadcast, social media, digital projects, and experiential events. The agency has already been working with Loblaws, Amazon, Skip The Dishes, and eCapital.

Down the road they could even hire a CD or creative teams, but for now it’s about partnerships with some of the many small creative agencies and freelance talent.

The Deli’s new model was behind the just-released campaign for eCapital, a financial services firm that helps truck drivers get paid quickly rather than waiting months. The campaign includes 13 different online spots running in the U.S. and Canada.

The agency handled the entire project, from first briefing to production and post-production. The creative boutique agency AndSo worked on strategy and creative development, with The Deli director Paul Constantakis handing the shoot.

“Drivers and trucking companies see everything on the road in terms of ‘How much is this going to cost me?'” said Jake Bogoch, creative director at AndSo, in a release. “So the campaign truly had to be all about money. Money is everything.”

“The creative cuts to the essence of what every trucking company needs to survive and grow; cash flow they can count on.”

A lot of production houses are already doing this kind of client direct work but it’s not widely discussed within the industry, said Heyd. “We’re just putting it out there that we actually do it,” she said.

Marketers needs and expectations have changed, more in-house creative talent is being employed and project work has largely replaced AOR relationships, while freelance creative talent and the number of smaller boutique creative agencies have increased.

At the same time,  marketers are pushing to get the best work done as efficiently as possible. It’s a lot of pressure on everyone involved, but The Deli founders think they have the right model.

“I’ve been in this business a long time, but I stay because it’s interesting and I stay because it’s exciting,” said Heyd. “And I have never been more excited than now.”



David Brown