Issue: December 1, 2009


Sean Henry
Executive Producer
Calabash Animation

STRENGTHS: “I think our greatest strength continues to be our ability to add life and personality to the characters we create. Twenty-five years of experience has taught us that technology changes constantly, but the principles of storytelling and good character animation are constant. Finding new ways of combining the two is an ongoing process of discovery.

“I believe this fits well with the strengths of animation as a whole, because animated characters can add a lot of life and fun and personality to a brand. It seems to me that advertisers are rediscovering the universal appeal of animated characters — it's definitely not just for kids.”

WEAKNESSES: “Times are tough and advertising budgets have been shrinking. In some cases, old ads are being dusted off and re-run. Some of the spots we worked on several years ago are back on the air today, and in that sense we feel like we provided a lot of bang for the buck. There is a tremendous amount of pressure being put on animation budgets, but the creative demands are actually increasing. I think what it comes down to is that value is more important today than ever, and clients need a trusted source that they know they can depend on. Relationships are very important when you are up against these kinds of challenges.”

OPPORTUNITIES: “We are expecting to see growing demand for quality content for the Web and mobile entertainment. As the technology continues to mature, the content will become more sophisticated and technical limitations will become less of a creative factor. Many of our customers are beginning to strive for more consistency across platforms as their marketing strategies expand into new forms of media. We have the tools and techniques to provide economical options while remaining true to the established look and feel of the brand.”

THREATS: “The greatest threat is the economic pressure on the industry as studios aggressively compete for fewer jobs. Studios will sometimes drastically underbid and work below cost just to get a foot in the door, hoping that it will pay off with repeat business in the future. However, the inevitable compromises and overages often result in an unsatisfied client and no hope of repeat business. It's very important that studios be realistic with their promises, and also that the agency gives ample consideration to a studio's reputation and track record before they hire them for the job.”