LONDON, UK — WPP and Microsoft Corp. have announced a partnership to transform creative content production, beginning with the launch of Cloud Studio, an innovative cloud platform that allows creative teams from across WPP’s global network to produce campaigns for clients from any location around the world.
Cloud Studio is the advertising industry’s first bespoke platform for virtual production that arms creatives with the technology to collaborate and create impactful work for clients, moving content creation, production, and editing out of on-premises environments and into the cloud. Over the next three years, WPP will roll out Cloud Studio to 5,000 employees across its network, notably within WPP’s creative production operation Hogarth, giving them the ability to access production tools and services from standard internet-connected devices via Azure without the need for traditional hardware or physical equipment. Longer term, WPP has plans to expand the platform more broadly, with a potential deployment of up to 25,000 users.
“Digital technology is rapidly transforming every aspect of the media and advertising industry, including how content is produced,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together with WPP, we will apply the power of Azure’s scalable, intelligent infrastructure to support next-generation content production and ensure thousands of WPP employees remain agile, collaborative, and creative from anywhere.”
“Technology is what powers WPP’s creativity; it allows us to realise our ideas, uncover insights and embrace innovative ways of working. The pandemic has shown how WPP teams can successfully collaborate to create extraordinary work for our clients, all while being physically apart,” said Mark Read, CEO of WPP. “Partnering with Microsoft on Cloud Studio is the next step in our journey to arm creative teams with the latest in cutting-edge production tools, and draw upon the best talent, regardless of where they are.”
Cloud Studio enables WPP to fully embrace today’s new world of hybrid working environments while providing business continuity and the ability to deliver outstanding work for clients across teams and markets. For example, the platform will enable greater collaboration and more efficient content production by providing easier access and visibility into content via advanced Azure AI-powered indexing of metadata from a central location accessible from anywhere, at any time. This intelligent categorization of content will enable WPP to give teams the assurance of version control, eliminate duplication of content and empower creatives working across markets and time zones with access to the right assets for the right product or market.
Cloud Studio further supports WPP’s wider sustainability agenda and its recent net-zero commitments in offering greater efficiency and minimizing energy consumption by reducing creative teams’ need for traditional production studios to deliver large-scale, high-quality marketing content. The platform’s use of content and digital asset discovery will also lead to a reduction in wasted materials and unused collateral from previous shoots. WPP and Microsoft both have ambitious company commitments around sustainability and have previously collaborated on sustainability-related initiatives.
Azure services will provide the foundation for Cloud Studio, including the use of Azure compute and storage to more quickly and efficiently get content into the hands of creative professionals. Azure will enable WPP to scale up and down its storage needs as new client projects begin and end, reducing spend by utilizing more cost-efficient cloud storage once a project is archived. Azure DevOps and GitHub will enable WPP to quickly provision new instances of Cloud Studio based on need. Finally, to enable creatives to be productive from anywhere, WPP will pilot the use of Surface devices, including Surface Pro 7, Surface Go 2, Surface Book 3 and Surface Duo.
Accelerating productivity and accessibility
WPP and Microsoft have a longstanding relationship that reaches beyond virtual production to create technology-based solutions that help WPP provide better experiences for employees and clients. For example, Microsoft Teams has enabled WPP’s 100,000-person workforce to seamlessly transition to a hybrid work environment over the last 18 months, promoting better collaboration and connection both internally and with clients. Additionally, WPP recently collaborated with Microsoft to ensure its creative output is more accessible to people with disabilities and inclusive of broad demographics by building a solution that leverages Azure AI services to help incorporate accessibility and inclusivity checks into client work as it is created.