Award-winning creativity from the cloud
A creative agency born in unprecedented times
When Christopher Grove (“Grove”), the Xfinity Creative VP of Operations, and Ephraim Gerard Cruz (“Eph”), Director of Operations and Software Initiatives Lead, said yes to standing up Xfinity’s first in-house creative agency, they knew they’d need ingenuity and strategic savvy to pull together a creative team that could deliver big business wins. Two weeks in, they found themselves facing an even bigger challenge — the March 2020 pandemic lockdown meant they’d need to build the agency completely virtually.
This wasn’t the plan, and a lot was at stake. Xfinity is responsible for the lion’s share of Comcast Cable’s revenue — Comcast being the largest American multinational telecommunications company and third largest company in the US. Building an agile agency capable of meeting Xfinity’s creative demands and revenue targets with a new, remote model was no small task.
To say they pulled it off is an understatement — their innovative approach to digital-first team-building, creative workflow design, and a tech stack built around Adobe Workfront have resulted in significant savings in external agency fees, and helped contribute to the brand’s revenue and customer acquisition growth — and they’re just getting started.
A team built on trust
When isolate-at-home restrictions took the world by surprise in March 2020, the weeks-old creative agency had to think fast and adjust quickly. “A remote agency wasn’t the plan,” Grove says. “We had to pivot toward building the whole thing virtually, knowing that we still had the same three-year timeline.”
Cruz remembers, “I never sat in an office like Grove did. So I already prepped my brain from an emotional and mental perspective — I knew that we were going to be building this from our living rooms.”
The partners started off with a healthy dose of trust and mutual respect that helped them hit the ground running. “Grove’s biggest strength, aside from having a ton of experience, is the ability to remain calm under any circumstance,” Cruz says. “That type of approach is essential in any startup culture — it let me stay balanced and in touch with reality as we continued to scale.”
“I had worked with Eph in the past on all kinds of different toolsets, and he’s incredibly technically savvy and passionate about this stuff, so I knew I had to bring him onto the team,” Grove says.
Centralizing the “source of truth”
Greater cost efficiency wasn’t Xfinity’s only driver in bringing their creative in-house. “For Xfinity, it was a lot more,” Grove says. “It really was to build a fully functional, full-service agency inside of Comcast to service the Xfinity brand, not just a production team or a studio in the basement of Comcast.”
The team was looking for an enterprise work management solution that could scale as the agency grew and easily handle both creative and administrative workflows — from project intake, onboarding, and training through reporting and dashboarding. “We needed to figure out how to centralize the source of truth for campaigns — a place where people could reference everything and just hop into a project,” Cruz says.
They found their answer in Workfront, an innovative work management solution that acts as the organization’s marketing system of record and the nexus of every creative project they undertake.
Choosing Workfront as the centralized solution for Xfinity Creative was a no-brainer. “We decided almost from the get-go that Workfront would be the sole center platform that we’d run the agency on. It had all of our resource allocations, all of our project activities, all of our project numbers, our programs, and our pillars, as well as all of the time sheets and employee status — whether contractor or full time,” Grove says.
Cruz then built dashboards for team leaders to view real-time data. “We could see in real time literally everything from financials to how many projects were active, organized by type,” he says. Data in real time gave executive leadership the visibility and strategic insights they needed to make quick decisions around everything from cutting costs to more effectively meeting customers’ needs.
“The whole Adobe suite that we’ve put together has really helped the creatives focus on creating. The whole idea of these tools and integrations is that they’re supportive — they’re not hindering or creating any speed bumps for the creatives.”
Ephraim Gerard Cruz
Director of Operations and Software Initiatives Lead, Xfinity Creative
Xfinity Creative uses these solutions:
Connect, collaborate, and simplify workflows to launch campaigns and deliver personalized experiences at scale.
Adobe Experience Manager Assets
Save time by editing, optimizing, and delivering digital assets all from one platform.
Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise
Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise gives organizations everything they need to harness the power of creativity.
Share media, track feedback, and streamline your video production workflow from shoot to post.
Giving creatives time to create
Using Workfront as a single source of truth supported the team’s top priority — more time to make award-winning creative work. Workfront helped optimize Xfinity Creative’s processes to such a degree that the team saw a 700% increase in delivered project velocity in just the first year. This dramatic transformation was made possible as the team leaned heavily on seamless integrations between Adobe Workfront, Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, and Adobe Experience Manager Assets to build a high-powered toolkit to automate repetitive tasks and offload administrative burdens from their creative team.
With this toolkit, their content lifecycle management clicked into place. Workfront kept their teams and stakeholders current and enabled easy in-app proofing, reviews, and approvals from directly within Creative Cloud workflows. Experience Manager Assets added AI-powered asset and version management to the mix, letting teams and stakeholders activate content across channels and surfaces.
The all-remote nature of the agency also allowed the creative team to grow beyond geographic barriers, gave creatives flexibility to work in whatever environment they felt most comfortable, and supported idea-sharing at any time and from any place. Team members can leave comments on projects in real time to give everyone involved in the project full visibility on any cloud-connected device. This kind of immediate collaboration capability unites Xfinity’s nationally distributed team.
“Finding talent across the country has been such a godsend — the reality is that we wouldn’t have been able to scale the way we did and grab the talent we did at such an early stage if we hadn’t had a virtual-first approach,” Cruz says.
“The muse strikes when the muse strikes,” Grove adds. “Yes, they were collaborating with colleagues, but they were essentially also in their own space and almost alone — and in a good way, from a creative thinking standpoint. It helped them be a little more adventurous with ideas rather than be overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of an advertising environment, which can be extremely distracting for a creative person.”
Grove and Cruz relied on the powerful remote onboarding and training features of Workfront to build their growing team. “As we were digitizing and virtualizing our onboarding and training experiences, we needed to make sure that every single employee had the same experience and was set up for job success,” Cruz says. “Workfront allowed us to customize everything based on someone’s role or profile and make sure they got the materials they needed.”
Giving employees a smooth initial engagement led to a stronger team culture from the start, shrinking onboarding time by more than 50% — from 5 to 2 days. “To this day, people talk to me about how great their onboarding experience was here and how supported they felt their whole first week. To me, that’s a win — the fact that we’ve retained such great talent for so long definitely points to how we’ve streamlined the whole onboarding experience in Workfront.”
“We wanted our creatives spending every hour creating. Every hour that they’re not trying to toggle between systems and figure out where to get a job number, or where to post an asset because they’re in a tool that’s familiar to them on a day-to-day basis, is an hour gained in terms of real creative output.”
VP Operations, Xfinity Creative
Creating endless integrations in Workfront
When the duo first invested in Workfront, they were simply looking for a work management solution with third-party integrations. Now, two-plus years in, they’ve paired Workfront with applications such as Frame.io and Figma. They’re tracking the integrations Adobe will acquire next with eager anticipation and making plans for how to implement those integrations for a stronger and more seamless content supply chain.
“It’s been a bit of a happy accident for us to have such an integrated toolset, but it’s been strategic on Adobe’s part to acquire these tools. We were a Workfront user first, and we would have used Frame and Figma in our workflow regardless of integration,” Grove says.
The review and approval process is a huge part of the team’s workflow, and getting it right means putting client happiness front and center. Workfront Proof and Frame.io integrations help the studio team handle versioning efficiently, track video progress alongside related deliverables, and empower seamless client reviews.
“Frame.io integrations have also created an awesome experience for our client — they’re able to see videos side by side, annotate where they need to, which gets automatically timestamped — it’s easy,” Cruz says. “The experience and the interface are fun, which really improves that relationship and helps us be seen as partners. Virtualizing the collaboration aspect of these processes, and being able to communicate within the tool, has improved the way that our creatives approach their day-to-day [work].”
“Integrations certainly make it much more efficient on our side from an overall tool stack, ecosystem, connectivity, and even an authentication standpoint. It’s really exciting to see where Adobe’s taking this whole content supply chain.”
VP of Operations, Xfinity Creative
Beating targets and exceeding expectations
The creative team’s success has contributed directly to increasing Xfinity’s revenue, boosting broadband, and acquiring new residential customers. The team surpassed its savings targets in the first year — “We blew it out of the water,” Cruz says.
“We’re now taking on more responsibility with mobile apps and digital. There have been discussions about bringing the brand over as well. Going beyond advertising is a huge win and very indicative of how our work has impacted Comcast and Xfinity,” Cruz says.
The approach has prompted a cultural shift inside the company — where marketing and creative teams were once seen as order-takers, they are now valued as strategic partners at Xfinity. “It’s allowed the marketers to really be part of the creative process,” Grove says. “They sit side by side with us, they’re using a lot of similar toolsets, and they have access to the same information that we have. It’s much more collaborative.”
“Workfront is a great foundational tool that helped us figure out our process and then define the way we work. It operated as a source of truth — creatives could go in there and say, ‘Okay. This is the latest and greatest version of this project that I’m working on.’ That was really important.”
Ephraim Gerard Cruz
Director of Operations and Software Initiatives Lead, Xfinity Creative
Looking to the future of Xfinity Creative
The duo plans next to integrate financial reporting capabilities with Workfront so they can get an accurate picture of performance as soon as expenses hit a project. “It’s really important to bring campaign performance data into Workfront and attribute some of that data and analysis to every project,” Cruz says. “We want to give teams retrospective data so they can optimize campaign performance for the next go-around.”
And in true visionary form, the two are looking not only at the next steps for Xfinity Creative but also at how these integrations will change the future of work. “The beauty of it is not just for the marketing industry or the telecom industry,” Cruz says. “Whatever workflows teams are creating all over the world, a lot of the same tools can be leveraged in very similar ways. That’s how the creative world will become so much more efficient. That’s the most exciting part about how Adobe is putting this whole ecosystem together.”
- Learn more about Xfinity Creative’s approach in this webinar as Ephraim Cruz shares best practices to help any organization manage creative resources and boost workflow efficiency.