AdNews Spotlight: Sweetshop puts craft as its core

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 17 August 2018
Sharlene George, Paul Prince & Melanie Bridge

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Spotlight shines a light on more unique companies in the industry making a big impact. This month we speak to New Zealand–founded Sweetshop, made up of a team that puts “craft at its core”.

From Sydney to LA, via Shanghai and London, the production agency is focused on offering its directors representation on a global scale.

Founded by Melanie Bridge, Paul Prince and Sharlene George, clients include Google, Audi and Maccas to name a few.

How did the business come about?

Sweetshop was founded 17 years ago by a three New Zealanders; director extraordinaire Melanie Bridge, producer great, Sharlene George and marketing master, Paul Prince. They wanted to create a production company that was completely different to anything anyone was doing at the time. So, they created a truly global production company where clients and agencies could have access to a varied roster of director talent and creative content on an international level. They also wanted to be able to manage the careers of directors in every market, not just Australia. Since their inception, they now have seven offices in six countries with 33 directors globally.

What do you do? And how has this changed/adapted since you launched?

Craft is at the core of what we do, whether that be in high-end television commercials, music video clips or even short films. Our reputation for high-calibre creative solutions and production values have led to collaborations with leading brands and agencies around the world. Our focus is to support our directors in their creative endeavours, whatever form that takes. Over time, this has challenged us to find new creative solutions to execute and distribute their work in an ever-changing market.

What is the company’s point of difference?

Our main point of difference to other production companies is that we offer our directors globalrepresentation. With so many offices and an incredible management group, we all work together to make sure we are giving our directors the best opportunity to work on the best scripts. For our clients, they have access to a wide range of talented directors from around the world and an experienced global management team who share a wealth of collective knowledge.

What’s the biggest business and also wider industry challenge right now?

Having just attended the World Producer’s Summit at Cannes Lions this year, the most common challenge not only facing us locally, but also abroad, is in-house productions. Agencies pitching their work out to external, as well as their internal production companies is a conflict of interest. We need make sure that the process is transparent and that the client is completely aware of how a decision is being determined.

How do you view the competitive landscape?

Every production company is looking for a point of difference as these days the margins are extremely small between what can win or lose a job. However, this competitive nature can only be a positive as it is the driving force to creating amazing work, which in the end will only benefit the clients.

Why is the company the ‘one to watch’ in 2018?

Sweetshop has undergone its biggest transformation this year with Paul Prince and Sharlene George moving into new areas of the business to increase content opportunities for its global roster of directors. It also sees Wilf Sweetland move to the position of CEO to support that restructure. Through these new opportunities, we hope to increase the range of content we produce and the audience who views it.

The team

Top three pieces of work: 


Nationwide partnered with NFL to create this inspiring film for the Walter Payton Man of the Year awards, with our director Mark Albiston and Ogilvy & Mather. Great happens on the field. Good happens off. And both inspire the next generation of players to do the same. “It’s not arrogance that makes kids think they’re the best – they just don’t know any better,” said Albiston. “They’re at the centre of their own little universes so of course they’re gonna imagine they’ll end up first pick off the draft. And considering their whole future is ahead of them, who’s to say they won’t.”

NZ Police

It’s the ad that “broke the internet”. Director Damien Shatford’s award-winning New Zealand Police recruitment video from Ogilvy & Mather New Zealand is unlike any recruitment ad you’ve ever seen and it went viral. The high-action police drama stars more than 70 actual cops, police dogs (and cats), an Eagle helicopter, the AOS, William Waiirua, Black Ferns and the Commissioner, Mike Bush.

James Blake (If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead)

Director Alexander Brown’s video for James Blake is an automotive dream, brilliantly calibrated to match the rhythms and experimental cut-up vocals of the track. Winner at D&AD, the secret of the success of this beautifully sleek promo was by keeping things small.

This appeared first in print

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