Spotlight on | How we work directly with brands

Rachel Stones, Head of Brand Partnerships at The Mill London, discusses holistic brand marketing, working directly with brands and pushing the potential of new technologies to achieve maximum creative impact.
Thought March 14, 2021

Tell us why The Mill is doing more work directly with brands…

Above: Bringing VanMoof’s brand vision to life in ‘Ride The Future’

The marketing landscape has exploded and brands are looking for new ways of connecting with their audiences and producing the marketing assets they need. This is especially the case with digital projects such as mobile content, XR and virtual events. We are also seeing brands thinking more holistically about their content marketing – complimenting traditional advertising with high volume social video formats, episodic content and longer form brand films. By working directly with our creatives, directors and production teams, we can offer brands a way of getting closer to the production of their messaging and the crafting of their stories.

Our legacy for solving creative problems and our connection to new technologies makes it easier for us to adapt to this environment. The best way to think about The Mill is as a group of really skilled makers working across all media. And we can make anything – from animated characters to interactive virtual events, to full CG film. Literally anything. And it’s all done in one place, to a world-class standard. So, when a client partners with us the production process is inherently simplified. This means we can work in a more reactive and agile way, keeping the client at the centre of the process. When you add creative and strategy in the mix, it can be really powerful. You’re massively shortening the distance between idea and execution, so projects come together in a really vivid and efficient way. This is a really exciting way to work but it’s also incredibly practical. If you’re a brand looking to make effective creative work in 2021 you’re probably looking for a partner that’s invested in you, offering increased flexibility and transparency, while still delivering that big idea that gets people talking. We do all of this and more.


Tell us more about your team and how they work…

My team is designed to facilitate and manage the end-to-end requirements of a brand client project. They are a group of smart people who can originate strategy, creative ideas and manage the production of a project across multiple formats and technologies. In a sense, it’s a continuation of what The Mill has always done but there are two key differences in how we work. The first is that we are working with brand marketers and product teams directly — as peers and collaborators. The second is that we are involved in the creative development process right from the start. More and more, brands are coming to us with an overriding marketing challenge (rather than a finished script or fully formed campaign idea) and we take it from there, using strategy and creative technology to build ideas that are memorable and genuinely impactful. 


Talk us through the full breadth of creative services you offer…

Above: EA SPORTS teams up with The Mill to create a film of epic proportions

Our team sits at the centre of every creative capability at The Mill. VFX, CGI, animation, design, digital development, virtual production, experience design and more. We work with loads of amazing brands but each one is different, and so are their audiences. To meet this challenge our team can plug into any part of The Mill’s global talent base, whatever’s required…Our job is to nail the client’s brief in a way that really elevates the brand and we never put a limit on that. The question is always — how do we use creativity to grab attention and cut through the Space Junk? How do we blow audiences away with an idea and execute it beautifully? The solution could be a beautifully directed video, or stunning motion design or an influencer-driven virtual event, all created at The Mill by our own artists and producers. We let the commercial challenge determine the approach and output.


What is the key to delivering a successful direct to client project?

Collaboration. A lot of people say it, but we really mean it. This is something we’ve built our whole approach around and something that is very true to the heritage of The Mill. Our simplified way of working brings the client closer to the creative process and provides a really equitable relationship. Our ambition is always to drive projects forward as creative peers, building everything together. This is a really personal and lovely way to work and feedback from many of our clients is testament to that. It is also incredibly efficient, allowing us to respond quickly, incorporate feedback more faithfully and build a truer version of the creative work we conceive together.


As leader of this team in London, what does your role involve?

I’m currently working closely with our senior creative and strategic teams to grow our direct to client offering and align with our other studios. There is a push from clients all over the world to get closer to the creative source and I’m determined we get it right. I want us to uphold the reputation and trust The Mill has worked so hard to build over the past 30 years. If a brand is choosing us as a creative partner, then they are very naturally looking for a new way of working. I want to make sure we’re always championing new approaches and pushing them forward. Day-to-day I try and carve out as much time as possible to speak to potential new partners, listen to their challenges and consult with them around the best way to solve them. After all, that is the crux of what we all want to achieve, together.


If you are a brand marketer and would like to speak to The Mill about working with us directly, please get in touch here.

Rachel Stones | Head of Brand Partnerships