“We are a new entry point to the market”

19.03.2021, Germany, Divimove

In an exclusive interview, Tobias Schiwek, Chief Executive Officer of Divimove, talks about Divimove’s growing studio business, the relationship with the global platforms and the successful integration of several companies into one.

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<b>Tobias Schiwek</b>

When Tobias Schiwek became CEO of Divimove on 1 January 2019, the company had 90 employees and was highly dependent on revenue generated via Youtube. Today, it has more than 240 employees in eight offices around Europe, and has diversified its business model. Divimove is no longer only a multi-channel network, but has become a modern talent agency with a growing studio business with several broadcasters, NGOs and world-leading brands as clients, such as Tinder, Disney+, EA Sports, Adidas, N26, and Nintendo. Divimove also made several campaigns for football teams, including the German and the Dutch Football Association.

“Our business model has changed massively, especially in the last two years, due to the successful integration of UFA X and RTL MCN, the combination with United Screens and the acquisition of Tube One. We have diversified a lot both in products and clients, which has resulted in new revenue streams.”

Some of Divimove's clients.

In Divimove’s studio business, they have created formats ranging from 90-minute TV documentaries to six-second social videos on TikTok. Flick Flack, the weekly pop culture magazine, is a Divimove production that started online and even has grown into broadcast, on the French-German channel Arte. The creative team at Divimove is responsible for the whole process, including production, research, and motion illustration. Another project that has evolved from its original channel is the one with long-term partner, the Dutch Football Association. The partnership started on YouTube and got extended to TikTok. Today, the TikTok channel “Onsoranje” is one of the most popular channels in the Netherlands, reaching 400,000 followers, and with more than 5 million likes.
 

Funk Spicy, a TikTok format by Divimove.

“Our heritage in social video has taught us to take a slightly different approach as a studio. Most formats we create don’t have an existing reach from the start. We have to think about the audience right from the beginning: Who are we telling this story to, and how will we reach them physically and emotionally? We try to find a credible host or face and the right talent – for the story, the audience and the platform, to make the format successful. Very often it’s a social influencer, but there are more and more cases where we convert a talent from one platform to another, and not only from social platforms, but also musicians and TV stars.”

The relationship with the global platforms

As Divimove represents talents on all big social platforms, they have close relationships with all of them, and even have the platforms themselves as clients.

“We made an international market entry campaign for TikTok. Divimove is a single point of access to a lot of proven social talent that they wish to ‘win over’ to its platform. By going through us, they didn’t have to do it themselves, person by person. We are, for Europe, a new entry point to the market.”

Divimove represents Nikkietutorials.
Photo: Leon van den Broek

The Divimove team still runs specific influencer marketing campaigns. From first client contact to execution can be as short as 48 hours. There is still a demand for such campaigns from the market, the talent and other stakeholders, Tobias says.

“My personal goal is to get into long-term relationships with clients regardless of the various platforms. For me, the aim is to create an understanding in the market where we shouldn’t need to speak about Youtube versus Instagram versus TV, but we can speak about how we grow communities of interest across platforms.”

The company considers itself as the shortest route to every community in Europe. Divimove wants to be known as an expert for creating icons or influencers, and finding the right tonality and faces for formats and communities.

“We can find, bind and develop such talent, and bring it to our stakeholders, that is at the heart of what we are doing. We are by nature a talent agency with tremendous platform knowledge, and we have to combine it with our studio knowledge”. That is something none of the big platform players can replicate with an algorithm.
 

One company

Divimove's townhall meeting in July 2019.

In July 2019, RTL Group announced it would create Europe’s leading digital studio (Backstage reported), where the Dutch RTL MCN and United Screens would be combined with Divimove. The integration process also included UFA X and the German talent agency Tube One Networks, acquired in January 2020 (Backstage reported). Today, Tobias says it is all one company.

With the integration of RTL MCN and Tube One Networks, Divimove strengthened its leading positions in talent management and influencer marketing. Its strong local relationships have also strengthened by highly specialised centres of excellence, which the local competitors can’t match. By combining with United Screens, Divimove extended its footprint across the Nordics, and acquired another highly motivated team with outstanding knowledge in digital rights management, as well as a media sales business and ad operations. With the acquisition of UFA X, Divimove augmented its reach and platform knowledge, with long-standing storytelling expertise and top-notch production recourses. The company can now offer expertise and a proposition that is in high demand: a scalable approach to deliver the full continuum within one setup of thousands of always-on, efficient online pieces of content, and hero productions in TV quality – everything offered in a lean cost structure.

Divimove's pan-European team met
for the first time in July 2019.

“Today, I am happy to say, we have created a unique portfolio and skill set which has global relevance and local dominance at the same time.”

“When we started the integration process, our ultimate goal was to have the highest degree of agility and resilience, as the market is changing so quickly. When the global pandemic hit, it was the ultimate test of whether we had come to that degree of integration.”

In March 2020, Divimove decided one morning to implement working from home. A couple of hours later, they held their first virtual 'all-hands' meeting, including all 240 employees who were working from home.

“The biggest challenge with the integration has been the global pandemic and having people working from home. So it was a good test to see if our systems were up and running. We want to plan ahead and think about structural processes – where we meet in workshops with whiteboards, have dinners, or create bonding moments. Instead, we've done all of this virtually, through screens.”

The Divimove team stayed fit with Mobile Office Gym.

The Divimove team launched several initiatives to have teams from different countries come together. After only a couple of hours of working from home, a first person volunteered – to hold virtual taekwondo classes. Then several others held yoga, fitness training and even running classes (Backstage reported). In addition, they have weekly all-hands meeting across offices spanning from Stockholm in the north to Milan in the south.

“We have held several virtual team activities, but screen fatigue is real, and therefore we launched a walk and talk challenge (Backstage reported), where we walked 7,600 kilometres across Europe and ‘visited’ all local offices.”

The successful integration as Divimove has also affected the business case. There have been several pan-European campaigns, with the market entry of TikTok in Europe, Intel, EA, and Nintendo, for whom Divimove did a cross-country campaign based on a single Youtube ad-server across all territories.

“It’s a game-changer for many businesses on Youtube, to have such a partner to talk to.”

 

Active in three industries

Divimove is active in three industries.

Tobias says that in future it will be more evident across all screens that talent and intellectual property are bound to each other, and that brands and broadcasters are bound to each other. Divimove wants to place itself in that intersection, in the three industries of talent, ads and production.

“It’s not Youtube anymore, it’s cross-platform, and it’s not MCN, it’s general talent. We have a business that creates, not just for broadcasters. The head start we have is understanding brands, broadcasters, NGOs and talent, and adding a bit of production expertise to that.”

 

Tobias Schiwek was one of the presenters on RTL Group’s Virtual Management Meeting. Read more about it here.

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