As 2013 gets underway, it’s time for predictions–which often aren’t accurate–and resolutions, which often aren’t kept. Nonetheless, SHOOT asked a cross-section of brave industry souls to engage in New Year’s resolutions as well as prognostications.
In recent weeks, SHOOT has reported on varied trends as food for thought, including those in JWT’s annual list of 100 Things To Watch for in 2013 (SHOOTonline, 1/1).
“Our list spotlights developments that are bubbling up across sectors, including travel, technology, food, retail and sustainability,” said Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT.
While these assorted Things to Watch can carry implications for our industry, there’s much to be said for personal informed hunches, thoughts and observations from those in the day-to-day business of communicating, entertaining, informing and connecting with audiences. So in the spirit of big-picture perspectives, discovery and hopes for the new year, SHOOT posed the following questions to industry folks:
1) Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you envision for the industry–creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint–in 2013?
2) What’s your New Year’s resolution, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your own company? And if you like, tell us briefly about an exciting current project you are working on in early 2013.
3) What personal New Year’s resolution can you share?
Here’s a sampling of the feedback we received.
Sam Baerwald, head of film production, 72andSunny
1) I foresee agency partners having a larger influence in defining who their clients are and what defines their company’s DNA. With the high turnover of CMOs and client personnel, companies are relying more and more on their agency partners to define brands for their own employees, not just for the consumer. Tools such as internal brand videos, intranets, and event experience will be used more and more to help brands define who they are internally, not just what they stand for in the face of the consumer.
I see the push for concrete metrics in mobile and web continuing to be a huge ask from clients. Currently, cultural buzz is the biggest indicator of effectiveness for brands in the web/mobile world. How that cultural buzz translates to sales increases is a gap that agencies are going to need to define more and more for their clients.
As far as production is concerned, technological innovation will continue to allow us to generate content faster and more efficiently.
2) I am hoping for marketing vocabulary to be simplified and re-defined.
The death of the word “creative” being used as a noun is eminent. “Creative” is an adjective. If you are not creative in the way you develop strategies, produce work, and determine the best media opportunities, you are not going to succeed in marketing. Everyone must bring creative ideas and solutions to each marketing challenge, regardless of discipline.
“Integrated Production” is another catch phrase that needs to be re-examined. Ideas need to be integrated across various mediums, not people. I am a huge fan of production integration, which is what agencies need to do to make the most out of client budgets. Producing campaigns in the most effective way is a given – all production disciplines will continue to be pushed to work together to get the most content in the most effective ways. However, the value of the expert should be celebrated. I am fully in support of hybrid talent, and having producers learn to produce in various mediums. However, I highly value the experts of certain disciplines, and do not think forcing every producer to claim that they can produce everything is a good thing. For example, when producing a film, we hire the best director and editor for the job. We don’t hire a director just because they can also edit.
A big step in defining simplified vocabulary will be for agencies to think in terms of what content they are making, not just where the content lives. Everything is “broadcast” in one way or another. Everything is “digital” in one way or another. I prefer to simplify think in terms of what is being made – a film, an augmented reality, a gallery event, a microsite, etc.
3) Focusing greater attention to staff health, growth, and retention.
We have not had issues with staff retention at 72andSunny, but I really feel it is important to focus on what makes individuals happy, healthy, and feel confident that they are growing the way they would like to grow.
I really encourage individual expression – there is no one formula for success. I look for those that I manage to share with me what they want, not just what I want. We strive to find what things individuals are good at and what makes them happy, then concentrate on the sweet spot where those two things intersect. I don’t want to tell people what they should be doing; I want the people I manage to tell me where they would like to grow, and we then work together to get them there. Keeping the conversation a two way path, and respecting individual desires and strengths are critical to keeping people happy. Making people happy, in turn, makes me happy.
Our industry is only going to continue getting faster. High velocity output will equal higher turnover and burnout. It is important to me, especially in starting a new year, to keep people stoked to come to work every day. The health of an agency starts with the health of the employees.
Joe Beirne, CTO, Technicolor Postworks New York.
1) It is axiomatic to say that all of the action is coming at the high and low extremes of the business. It is an artifact of the enormous scales involved in the media industry. Pushing incredible computing power into the hands of virtually every consumer in the world has irrevocably changed the landscape. We are either producing immediacy (on your iPhone) or spectacle (in 4K on the large screen). The human scale, however, lies somewhere between these extremes. Keeping that truth in focus remains the great challenge.
2) 2013 finds us working on better thermodynamic efficiency throughout our entire process offering, from dailies through finishing, versioning and final delivery. We have refined our techniques for moving, cataloging and archiving production data and we are continuing to open our post process to more transparent and flexible collaboration with our clients while minimizing “frictional loss.”
It partly involves the better use of increasingly precious resources, but the main focus is on maximizing creative flexibility. It is essential to have the right resources available whenever and wherever needed. That is particularly important for our increasingly far-flung projects. Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, for instance, was posted in seven time zones and required virtually every category of service we offer. We’ve resolved to make such globally-scaled projects perform like local productions.
3) For 2013, I’ve promised myself to get back to more reading outside of our field. That can have unintended benefits. I recently had a long discussion with my 16-year-old son Gus about entropy (one of his current areas of fascination) that indirectly led me to a solution that we at Technicolor PWNY are currently putting in place to harden our New York facilities against large-scale events like Hurricane Sandy. I’m currently reading the late Benoit Mandelbroit’s The Misbehavior of Markets, looking for what I cannot say.
Justin Booth-Clibborn, head of integrated production, BBH New York
1) Being the eternal optimist that I am, I will say what I hope for:
Big picture–a continuation of the trend towards advertising and marketing that makes a difference in the world, or has some cultural significance or purpose.
Day to day–better, braver, more exciting creative across the board. Most people I have talked to feel last year was “ok” business wise, but they didn’t see many, if any, great, interesting or groundbreaking creative projects.
2) Simple: Make more.
We have a couple exciting projects in development, including an interesting interactive film that blends good, traditional storytelling with digital interaction, an integrated campaign based around a “glossy” film for a new client who has never done this type of thing before (but is in a great category and wants to talk to a new audience), and a provocative wild posting campaign for another new client.
One of the projects I am most excited about, though, is the integration of our new digital partners Monterosa. Working mainly in the mobile space, Monterosa is comprised of superlative strategists, designers, technologists, UX specialists, developers and producers. Via our LA office, we are already working with them on a very exciting digital platform that is launching soon. It’s going to be a great relationship that enables us to make more!
3) I was never a big “let’s get healthy New Year’s resolution” person, but I did start out last week with a three-day juice cleanse from Juicepress, which I have to say was quite enlightening and rewarding. So, my overall personal resolution is to think more about what I am putting into my body.
Tom Duff, president, Optimus
1) 2013 will be a “raise your game” kind of year for our industry. For the majority of us, it’s Moneyball time. We all have to run leaner & smarter if we want to survive. The inherent challenges of having to provide more for tons less with increased competition will get more attention from all of us than ever before.
But no matter how we all go about that, we all have to realize we have an inherent responsibility to maintain the integrity of our industry overall, for all of our sakes.
Given that, there are still some cardinal rules that, if we all follow, we will always win out. Earn your creative reputation with great work; foster, respect, and nurture the loyal relationships with both clients and employees; respect your peers, stay independent; and don’t try and commoditize our business.
2) Optimus’ new year’s resolution: Surprise and delight every client, every employee, and every job like it’s your first and only.
3) Personal resolution: Same as Optimus
Katie Fellion, VP technical post production, Light Iron
1) We’ve seen glimmers of it already in projects like last year’s Halo 4web series from Microsoft, but in 2013, I think we will see even more high production-value content premiering through alternative distribution avenues like web and VOD, driven primarily by a growing consumer demand to see content when and where they want. The success of Netflix’s House of Cards model is going to help shape a lot.
Also, the benefits of acquiring at higher resolutions has already taken hold in the production community, but as the availability of higher-resolution display devices expands, 2013 will be a year where we see more work being done at higher resolutions, especially in the fashion world where the appearance of texture really counts.
To that point, I don’t think the demand will come exclusively from creatives: I recently gave a presentation to 8th graders about the future of post-production. Once they understood what resolution actually was, funny enough, they were more excited about seeing more 4K than more 3D.
2) With the New York branch of Light Iron ramping up operations, one of our major resolutions is to bring the innovative workflow knowledge and creative excellence we are known for in Los Angeles to our projects in New York. Especially in our NYC market, we expect a large portion of those projects to be made up of non-traditional formats including web, fashion, and branded content. However, just because something follows an alternative distribution avenue doesn’t mean we are looking strictly at a 1080 finish: Another New Year’s resolution for both LA and New York is to look at using new tools and methods to minimize the cost differences for higher resolutions to help as many of our clients as possible finish at 4K+.
Similarly, one of the first theatrical films we’ll be finishing in 2013, Keanu Reeves’ The Man of Tai Chi, was one of the first projects shot on the Arri 4:3 sensor. All work will be done at the native ArriRAW anamorphic frame size of 2880×2160 using Quantel’s new Rio, allowing us to maintain as much flexibility and resolution as possible until final distribution elements must be struck.
Robert Fernandez, CEO/partner, Moxie Pictures
1) The last few years have been a difficult but exciting time for our industry and there is nothing that makes me feel that 2013 wouldn’t be the same. I can only look at what Moxie has done and how it has evolved. Production companies are no longer confined to just doing traditional commercials and marketing. Many have become proficient in other forms of entertainment and media (TV, Feature Films, Digital.) That expands what a production company can offer to a potential marketer. I think this has helped advertisers see that there are ways for them to expand the reach of their brands outside of just doing traditional commercials. This not only increases business opportunities, but it also provides us other mediums to from which to grow filmmakers, which is a vital part in the continued success of any production company.
2) Moxie is a company that strives to always want to do things better, to never settle on any current success and to be fearless in our pursuit to doing the best creative work possible. We are big believers in not only what we do, but how we do it. This year, a lot of the hard work and effort of the company will be seen in the premiere of a television series we developed and produced, as well the release of two feature documentaries and our first scripted narrative film (Austenland, in the dramatic competition at Sundance 2013.) This continuing evolution into an array of media will help us provide creative opportunities to the filmmakers of the company, and also help us provide an expanded skill set to marketers. In the end, it’s always been about making Moxie a place associated with great people and producing great work.
3) The main reason I love being a producer is you never stop learning. Once you feel you know it all is basically the time that you should stop doing it – because you won’t be very good at your job. I always go into every year wanting to learn something new every day, striving always to perfect one’s craft. There are a lot of really smart and creative people in our industry and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it–and never take that privilege for granted.
1) Creatively speaking, I’m hoping that the industry continues to explore a diversity of media, whether it be traditional or non-traditional. Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do, so I’d like to see more creative that centers on the story and, selfishly, more character-based creative. But who really knows…I’m sure that it will all feel very much like years gone by, but with a few new apps to make it all much easier.
2) Well last year was a really good year, both personally and as a company. There’s a unique make-up to the three companies that we have–editorial, VFX and design, and direction–that has allowed us to create properties that evolve beyond just a :30 commercial and into a more personal type of filmmaking. That has fed back into the core businesses model, giving us opportunities to craft ideas at a very early stage with agencies, and really take advantage of all we have to offer.
Personally, I’m working on an animated short film that will hopefully provide another avenue for me to not only say something about who I am, but also to show off all the talents of the company as whole.
3) My personal New Year’s resolution is really no different from years past: I always want to continue working with talented creatives who encourage me to get the very best out of the work.
Ellen Jacobson-Clarke, executive producer/partnera WHITELABELproduct
1) Where is Nate Silver when you need him? In my crystal ball, I see there will be a continued trend in 2013 toward integrating formats and the role of the production company will still be to provide support and solutions as the economic world turns.
Brian Latt, managing director, Tool
1) This is an incredible time for the industry. We’re seeing a greater number of creatively rich projects with a smarter integration of assets. Digital, and in particular, mobile ad spending is projected to increase this year. And we’re seeing more campaigns that reflect this type of growth. We are, for example, already producing a handful of projects that consist of TV spots married to very creative mobile executions.
The digital technologies are growing tenfold. This will allow for a greater range of creative opportunities that showcase fresh, entertaining ideas online. We’ll also see a sizable uptick in really intelligent web-based ad campaigns, especially branded content, interactive videos and entertaining site experiences.
2) My resolution is to keep us pushing the creative on each and every project, and possibly inspire those around us.
James Cooper and our digital team just launched a Facebook app for HELP Remedies—a playful experience that helps people identify who gave them the flu. We also created, with the Martin Agency, a site to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis; it’s a thought-provoking, interactive film hosted by Matthew Modine that includes documentary interviews, and a fictional short of a post apocalyptic world.
3) Take time to enjoy the process.
Rachelle Madden, managing director, Poetica
1) Well we’ve obviously seen a lot of the traditional ad agency models go out the window over the years, so for companies on our end of the business this continues to mean big opportunities. Just as agencies have changed, so have the production and post companies. Most of us are operating hybrid models now and they come in all shapes in sizes. We take on projects where we are asked to do everything from creative concepting to execution across every medium imaginable–traditional, digital, mobile, social, experiential…you name it. It’s really quite exciting creatively. The work I see out there gets more interesting and clever every year and I hope we’ll see this trend continue in 2013. On the down side, budgets are continually shrinking and I don’t see that changing. As a result, we are forced to change our business model and change it regularly and rapidly sometimes–we must be nimble and adaptable to keep pace.
2) My resolution for Poetica is pretty easy since we are essentially a new entity: Growth. The way that growth happens for a company like ours is absolutely through the creative. While we are new as a company, we have this amazing core of veteran talent who are constantly creating and churning out beautiful work. This energy has permeated throughout the entire company. We are all thinking in new ways and challenging each other to do more, better work all the time. We have resolved to keep making and doing–whether it’s a job for a client or just a piece that one of our creative directors has had rattling around in his head for months. As for an exciting current project…for us, that is Poetica itself. Create, build and grow…
3) Less email! More phone calls and actual get-togethers in person. Email is still so impersonal, no matter how many emoticons and “XO””s you throw in. Of course, I may end up leaving a lot of voicemails…but it’s worth a try!
Shannon McGlothin, executive creative director, Leo BurnettLos Angeles
1) We work in the new creative mediocrity. We have to reframe the conversation. We have to flip the way people look at the world and creativity nowadays. We have to be audacious. The expressions of our ideas need to be original as the idea itself. We continue to understand that brands need to be driven by purpose. And brands need to understand why they exist, and the human value they create.
2) I’ve asked to open a new office in LA called Leo! We’re creating a small creative boutique with the support of the larger agency, here in Los Angeles with the muscle and support from Leo Burnett Chicago, Publicis Groupe. The model for the office is to service Samsung global as well as linking into the branded entertainment network of LA. to create challenging and exciting projects. With this opportunity the resolution is not to lose sight about being relentless.
A really exciting project I can tell you about is that we recently worked with Samsung to announce the launch of AllShare, Samsung’s content sharing solution across smart devices, at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. However, instead of unveiling the technology in a typical keynote speech at CES, we created and constructed a film experience (“WE ALLSHARE”) that turns a technology story into a global human story, creates a new medium for artistic self-expression, and introduces AllShare as a new type of digital behavior not just to the CES audience, but to millions of people across the world. The overarching AllShare campaign is ongoing and can be experienced at weallshare.samsung.com .
The film explores the universal theme of sharing across different cultures from all over the world. Shared traditions. Shared memories. Shared communities and earthly elements. Capturing real human moments that we had the opportunity to film all over the world.
For the live CES event, Samsung built a one-of-a-kind stage to tell the film story. We worked closely with B-REEL to create the experience across a multidimensional wall of 26 Samsung screens controlled by an audio-video instrument made of 24 Samsung mobile devices
3) Whatever you do, do it with purpose and with love in your heart.
Lee Nelson, president/CEO, Envision Media Arts (EMA)
1) I see the continued merging of agency, production and post houses. Fortunately, at its essence, creative will still drive advertising, because a compelling story will continue to engage a viewer’s interest. This will ensure that companies with strong creative voices will still thrive. I also see the cost of production continuing to be lowered. This reduces the barrier to entry for filmmakers and will cause continued turmoil for top-heavy companies, but it also gives voice to many storytellers who would otherwise be silenced. Meaningful change will continue to be driven by the best expression of good ideas, and this incredible resource will continue to be mined for exciting new talent – Gangham Style!
2) To work as if I’ve just started in this business.
And from a business standpoint, the most important thing that I, or anyone at my company can do is nurture a trusting, productive and collaborative relationship with our directors and clients. So I want to build on that and offer positive leadership as I make the choices that move EMA into the future. I’m also not going to be afraid of investing and growing the company.
We are already working on projects for (SoCal) Ford and American Honda for both traditional and new media platforms. Under the leadership of Andrew Halpern (president/EP of the Commercial Division), our New York commercial crew is shooting a day of New York exteriors for us for FREEZER, a feature film we are producing starring Dylan McDermott and Peter Faconelli, directed by Mikael Salomon. This film started principal photography on January 9.
3) To spend more time with my wife Gina and kids—maybe even take a family vacation to someplace warm, with sand!
Patrick O’Neill, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\DayLos Angeles
1) I see a more beautiful and visually stunning 2013 due to Instagram. With all these people using their cameras and all their filters 24/7, our collective visual aesthetic will rise to levels never seen before. And with this will come some groundbreaking, memorable, and visceral visual storytelling. So expect to have your minds blown.
2) Make it Smart. Make it Beautiful. Have Fun.
3) In 2013, I plan to only spend time on the things that make me truly happy. First at TBWA\Chiat\Day and then at home. Only with true happiness can you be at your best creatively. Choose happiness in 2013.
Amyliz Pera, executive producer, Twist
1) The creative landscape will continue to broaden in 2013, as innovation IP drives not only media outlets and business models – - but creativity and ways of thinking about a brand experience. A message is being sent to clients that solutions do not need to be driven by a media buy. This month’s announcement of W+K Garage, Deutsch LA defining Invention Strategy…it renews hope and possibility in an industry that has the resources to affect culture and change on a global scale. This should be a good year for change.
2) It’s the year of staffing and recruitment. I would love to bust out with new directors and additional team members. We have always embraced the philosophy of putting our money into people and what we make – and encouraging all of our staff to continue personal creative endeavors. That has cultivated a very loyal and easy atmosphere at our company, and my intention this year is to add people to our mix and generate momentum where personal and business endeavors can naturally blend. We hope to continue finding partnerships with like-minded clients and vendors.
3) In the spirit of blending personal and business into one soup, I have a few creative projects of my own I’d like to devote time to. Hmm. Selfish 2013. I’ve always enjoyed making things but also helping other people realize their creative goals—so, this year will be a blending for me. I anticipate involving other team members as well as other industry pals. I read somewhere that telling people what you’re embarking on produces a certain amount of satisfaction, which can work counter to an endeavor if there is nothing tangible beyond the idea. That means I have to stay vague with my brag to get stuff done. At least making stuff is increasingly an easier goal than working out every day, which I resolve to do next year.
Todd Porter, music supervisor/producer, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
1) I think the constant message the past five years has been about diversifying the ways (and mediums) we produce content for, the newest addition to this has been the integration and BIG stunt. In the past year I’ve worked pretty far from my traditional role as producer and done projects like The Doritos JACKED vending machine at SXSW, a documentary for Autism Speaks, and we did some incredible work for Chevy Sonic, throwing the car out of an airplane, bungee jumping and teaming with OK GO to make it play music. I see other agencies doing work like the Toyota Tundra towing the Space Shuttle and I think this is the most exciting thing going on for agencies and clients.
2) Expand my role as agency music supervisor, expand my department with people who share my compulsion to share great music and support great artists through advertising.
An athletic shoe account for my agency.
Work directly with artists who live outside of advertising to do work that pushes the medium.
Current project: Doritos SXSW 2013 is in the works, and it’s going to be bigger, crazier and way more interactive than last year; get ready Austin, get ready world!
3) 2012 was an insanely great year for me, on a business and personal level, it’s the benchmark for my career in ads. I’m trying to beat that; it will not be an easy task.
Lisa Setten, head of production, JWT New York
1) Despite the fact that economic pressures have put more pressure on marketing budgets over the past few years, clients continue to ask us to help them explore areas outside of their comfort zone. Now more than ever, we need to create work that will be talked about and get our clients’ brands noticed, and that’s really exciting.
I also think production will continue to be an even more recognized part of the creative process. As ideas evolve and are less traditional, the reliance on production has increased dramatically. I’ve always believed producers are part of the creative team and am excited to see us continue to become involved even earlier in the process.
2) One of Jeff Benjamin’s favorite questions to ask me is “How can we make this even better?” As a company, we focus on the core work, but also finding ways to enhance those ideas by either challenging our producers and creative teams to come up with additional ideas and/or partnering with new vendors who can bring something new and exciting to the table. We’re currently in the process of creating work to celebrate the launch of a new idea for one key client. We’ve brought together an incredible team of people to make the work, but there will be a handful of surprises associated with the launch that we are excited to share later this year.
3) I really don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions…instead, I spend the holidays focusing on how fortunate I am to have a wonderful family, friends, career, and I try to continue being as good of a person as I can. Unoriginal, but true.
Todd Tilford, chief creative officer, Draftfcb Chicago
1) He not busy being born is busy dying. In the process of evolving, some agencies will jump the shark. And some will find higher ground. There will be fewer layers and more demands. Faster cheaper better. You’ll see a lot of smaller, tighter, senior creative-driven relationships. Content is still king and it isn’t giving up its throne. A massive mobile market will just keep growing. Transparency will still be hot. Intuition based on science will take over. Consumer insights based on data analysis and analytics will drive more marketing decisions. And creativity will once again be on the top of every marketer’s wish list. But what else is new? However, the power of new ideas, storytelling, entertainment, design, meaningful relationships, and a strong brand purpose will have finally run its course. Just kidding.
2) We are looking to break orbit. We have been secretly formulating bigger booster rockets that run on more explosive fuels. It’s time to try them out. This needs to be our year.
3) Optimism. Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of optimism. I believe in the powerful alchemy of art and science and talent and collaboration. But without optimism, it still won’t take you far enough fast enough.