• Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Editor Peter Brandt joins Rock Paper Scissors for U.S. representation
Peter Brandt
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- 

Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) has added editor Peter Brandt to its roster for representation in the U.S. 

Brandt, who had previously been handled by Work, is best known for his anthemic collaborations with A-list Scandinavian directors that include Martin de Thurah, Andreas Nilsson and Adam Hashemi. For his most recent commercial project in the U.S., Brandt reunited with de Thurah on the highly awarded and much celebrated “An Open Mind is the Best Look” for Nordstrom and Droga5 New York. Brandt was also the editor behind Nilsson’s multi-award-winning “Epic Split feat. Jean-Claude Van Damme” for Volvo that swept Cannes with six Grand Prix honors for Forsman & Bodenfors.

“Peter’s range as an editor makes him a perfect addition to the RPS family,” said Angus Wall, founding partner and editor at Rock Paper Scissors. “His exceptional work speaks volumes and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for someone with his level of talent.” 

Eve Kornblum, RPS managing director, described Brandt as “an editor’s editor in every facet of his work. His knack for building narrative and creating emotion is really incredible.”

On joining RPS, Brandt said: “I’ve always been particularly driven by the variation that commercial and feature projects allow me to work on. Rock Paper Scissors is unique in having that outlet built into their structure with MakeMake Entertainment and all of their sister companies. So much of the work I admire comes from the U.S. market, so I’m really eager to expand my relationships with RPS’ amazing partners.”

Having started out editing commercials and music videos in Denmark, Brandt gained acceptance into The National Danish Film School in 2003 which opened up a series of narrative feature opportunities. His first collaboration with director Christoffer Boe on psychological thriller Reconstruction was rewarded with the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Editor at The Robert Awards and The Young Cinema Award at Venice Film Festival. Brandt continues to work across Scandinavia out of his own Copenhagen-based company, Little Machine.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Cartel adds editors Valenta, Gilbert, O’Reilly
Kyle Valenta
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- 

Editorial and postproduction studio Cartel has expanded its roster with the signings of Kyle Valenta and Ernie Gilbert for global representation and Paul O’Reilly for representation in the U.S.

Valenta’s commercial credits include such brands as Nike, Apple, Dodge, The NFL, Guinness, Google, Dick’s and Lime. Known for both his strong visual storytelling and documentary style work, Valenta has collaborated with directors including Henry-Alex Rubin, Chivo Lubezki, Chris Wilcha and Mark Zibert. Valenta cut his teeth in commercial editorial at Wieden+Kennedy’s Joint Editorial in 2006, where he shifted his focus to short-form storytelling following work in feature editorial post-college. He noted, “Early in my career, I worked closely with Lauren Bleiweiss (Cartel EP) who helped me develop as an editor and become more established in the wider commercial market. It was a period of great excitement, and returning to work with Lauren at Cartel feels like being back home.” Valenta returns to Cartel from Work Editorial.

Following two years in “The Lookout,” Cartel’s development track for up-and-coming creative talent, Gilbert has been signed to Cartel’s main editorial roster. Gilbert has edited spots for DirecTV, Fox Sports, Nike Jordan and Banana Republic, and worked with directors including Dave Franco, Hiro Murai and Salomon Ligthelm. Prior to shifting focus to the commercial realm, Gilbert worked as an assistant editor in episodic television on Atlanta, Barry and Baskets, and edited music videos by Childish Gambino, Lizzo, John Legend and Fall Out Boy. Gilbert was nominated for an MTV VMA for Best Editing in 2018 for Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” which won awards for best music video at the VMAs and Grammys. In addition to editorial work, Gilbert is an emerging filmmaker who continues to hone his craft in directing. “Cartel’s empowering team of creatives are driven by a passion for their work. I’m excited to join their main roster to further advance my flair for commercial editorial,” added Gilbert.

O’Reilly is best known for his kinetic and rhythmical editorial style, crafting high-octane, dynamic pieces across advertising and music. O’Reilly has collaborated closely with director Georgia Hudson on spots for Nike, Under Armour, Michelob and O2, as well as high-profile work for Axe, Babbel and the U.K Department of Transport. He has also edited music videos for artists including Run the Jewels, Sam Smith, Chemical Brothers, A$AP Rocky, Ellie Goulding and Billie Eilish. He joins Cartel from STITCH, where he remains on the editorial roster for representation in the U.K. “I have had a longstanding relationship with (Cartel editor/partner) Andy McGraw, and signing with Cartel feels like a strong fit and an exciting opportunity to continue to develop in the U.S. market,” concluded O’Reilly. 

  • Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020
Former Marketer Jim Farley To Become Ford CEO On Oct. 1
In this March 28, 2018 file photo, Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of Global Markets of the Ford Motor Company, is shown in this photo during New York International Auto Show. Farley will lead the storied automaker into the future starting Oct. 1 2020, when current CEO Jim Hackett retires. The company has struggled in recent years and is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan designed to make it leaner and crank out new vehicles to replace what was an aging model lineup. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Jim Farley will lead Ford Motor Co. into the future as the global auto industry faces a new era of autonomous and electric vehicles.

The company named Farley, 58, as its new CEO effective Oct. 1, replacing Jim Hackett, who will retire after three years at the helm. Farley, who has been with Ford for more than a decade, had been chief operating officer since February and clearly was being groomed for the top position.

He faces tough challenges as the industry emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. Ford is losing money and is transitioning from an aging model lineup to new vehicles, including those powered by electricity. It's also in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan to cut costs and bureaucracy and make money off its autonomous vehicle unit.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford, the great grandson of founder Henry Ford, said the board briefly discussed looking outside for a CEO, but was inspired by Farley's leadership and felt the company is moving in the right direction. "We talked about it and we did throw some names around," he said on a conference call Tuesday. "Every time we did that, we always felt that Jim Farley rose to the top."

As COO, Farley led the company's global markets and product development. He was in charge as Ford rolled out a revamped F-150 pickup — the country's best-selling vehicle — the new Bronco off-road SUV brand and the electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.

Farley, who was hired away from Toyota by then-CEO Alan Mulally in 2007 to run Ford's marketing operations, said Tuesday that his main goal is for a smooth transition, but he has plans for the future that will be announced later.

The company, he said, would continue on the path set by Hackett, with priorities of reaching a 10% profit margin in North America, seeking immediate material and warranty cost improvements, fixing under-performing businesses, maximizing opportunities in commercial vehicles and outperforming the industry in rolling out new models.

The 117-year-old company, he said, would grow and expand where it is strong, like making the transition from internal combustion engines to electric powered commercial vehicles. It also wants to move more toward digital sales and add revenue from services such as electric vehicle charging and software, he said in an interview. 

Ford has been phasing out most cars in recent years because they didn't make money. But that has left the company without low-priced vehicles. Farley said he wants to change that by using Ford's lower cost structure "to really create a lineup of more affordable products that go below what we offer today, so the brand is approachable and affordable, but do so in a profitable way."

He wouldn't say whether the new vehicles would be cars or SUVs. 

In a nod to the changing auto industry, Farley left out traditional rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler when naming Ford's competitors. Instead, he identified them as retail giant Amazon, Chinese search engine Baidu, electric car maker Tesla, iPhone maker Apple, and Japanese automaker Toyota. 

The 65-year-old Hackett took over for the ousted Mark Fields in May of 2017. Almost immediately he began reviewing Ford's management structure and flattened the organization so it could move faster. But his often lengthy directives confused employees who weren't clear on where the company was headed. In 2018, an analyst asked Hackett how much longer he expected to be with the company.

Investors weren't impressed during Hackett's tenure as analysts complained about the slow pace of restructuring. Ford shares lost more than 25% of their value under Hackett, but they closed 2.5% higher at $6.86 on Tuesday. 

Farley said Tuesday he's optimistic about Ford's future as new products arrive and cost cuts take hold. 

Hackett, a retired Steelcase office furniture CEO who had run Ford's mobility efforts, will stay on as an adviser through March. Bill Ford praised Hackett for taking difficult steps to modernize the company, reducing bureaucracy, and preparing it for the future.

"We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble," Ford said. He cited Ford's quick shift to make ventilators, face shields and other protective equipment at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hackett also made the difficult decision to move Ford out of the sedan business in the U.S. as the market shifted dramatically to SUVs and trucks. 

It was apparent that Farley would take over as CEO in February, when Ford announced a management shakeup after a poor fourth-quarter financial performance and the botched launch of the Explorer SUV. 

Farley's chief rival, automotive President Joe Hinrichs was pushed out and retired March 1, and Farley was named COO.

Ford's full-year profit plunged last year by more than $3.6 billion. It lost nearly $2 billion in the first quarter this year, and made just over $1 billion in the second quarter only because of an increase in the value of its autonomous vehicle unit. 

Hackett has said the company fell short of expectations for last year, and he blamed the performance largely on the flubbed launch of the new Explorer at a factory in Chicago.

Morningstar analyst David Whiston said the jury is still out on Hackett's tenure as CEO because his restructuring efforts are still in progress. "If the fitness moves started under him eventually lead to nice free cash flow generation, then history may be kinder to Hackett than his critics have been while he was CEO," Whiston said. 

  • Monday, Aug. 3, 2020
VMLY&R hires Walter Geer as ECD, experience design
Walter Geer

VMLY&R has appointed Walter Geer as executive creative director, experience design, in its rapidly expanding customer experience practice. Geer will be based out of New York and will work closely with Jason Xenopoulos, CEO of New York and co-CCO of North America. Geer will report to Eric Looney, chief experience design officer who leads the agency’s experience design practice in North America.

Geer will drive the creation of innovative design solutions within VMLY&R’s connected health practice and help lead the transformation of talent and capability across this high-growth group.

With over $100 million in health revenue in 2019, VMLY&R’s health practice is rated among the industry’s top 20 global health agencies. In the long term, Geer will also work to synergize brand and customer experiences across a broader range of clients such as Dell Technologies, Campbell Snacks, Pfizer and New Balance.

Geer joins VMLY&R from TBWA\WorldHealth where he held the position of SVP, group creative director, digital experience and innovation. Recently, Savoy Magazine named him to its list of 2020 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. He is most known in the advertising space for creating compelling mobile advertising experiences that have reinvented and revitalized the way brands and advertisers connect with consumers through a multitude of digital platforms.

A 20-year veteran of the digital advertising space, Geer holds a total of six U.S. patents for digital ad formats, and has developed ad products and implemented creative strategies for a variety of publishers and leading technology and media companies including Google, Viacom, The New York Times and MySpace. Geer has architected market-first usability labs, applying biometric research to the development of creative executions and minimizing risk by understanding how consumer emotions and demographics impact brand engagement.

Prior to TBWA\WorldHealth, Geer was VP and creative director at Verve where he ran design and engineering teams responsible for the company’s creative production and innovation. He joined Verve from PointRoll (Gannett) where he was VP of product strategy.

  • Friday, Jul. 31, 2020
Droga5 London promotes Shelley Smoler to exec creative director
Shelley Smoler

Droga5 London has promoted multi-award-winning Shelley Smoler from group creative director to executive creative director.

Smoler will lead the creative department, oversee pitches, and work across all of the agency’s clients, with a specific focus on Amazon. She will also help lead the agency’s approach to its mentorship and diversity programs. She reports into Droga5 London’s chief creative officer David Kolbusz.

Smoler has recently been nominated for an Emmy for her work on Droga5’s Super Bowl commercial “Before Alexa.” At Droga5, she has led Amazon Alexa globally, Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Amazon Prime Video in Europe and the U.K. She was also part of the team that created “Metatronia” for Uniqlo, a performance piece created in collaboration with Solange Knowles and displayed at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Smoler has won over 50 awards, including a D&AD Black Pencil and a Cannes Lions Grand Prix, for her campaign for The Zimbabwean newspaper in South Africa that took on Robert Mugabe’s regime by using the country’s almost worthless bank notes to make billboard ads.

The campaign, created by Smoler and her team while she worked at South African agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg, made history. As well as winning the industry’s most prestigious awards, also including two Grand Clios and the ADC’s first-ever Black Cube, the posters are part of the permanent collection in both the British Museum and the Design Museum.

Smoler first joined Droga5 in 2017 as creative director and was promoted a year later to group creative director. Prior to Droga5, she was a creative director at BBH and worked across the agency’s full client roster, including the Guardian, Audi, Google, Heineken, KFC and Mentos. BBH hired Smoler in 2015 from TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg where she was creative group head.

Smoler said, “I am lucky enough to be working alongside the nicest, most talented and creatively ambitious group of people on the planet. I’m looking forward to continuing to help grow and shape the creative department and be inspired by them in equal measure.”

Kolbusz shared, “To describe Shelley as “essential as food or drink” would undervalue her contribution and undersell how joyful an experience it is to work with her. She is brilliant, strategic, methodical, thorough, kind, and perhaps most essentially - she has impeccable taste. The agency will be stronger for her leadership.”

  • Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020
Brenda Fell joins DAVID Miami as exec producer
Brenda Fell

Brenda Fell has returned to DAVID, this time as executive producer in its Miami office. She comes over from Leo Burnett Chicago. Fell had earlier in her career served as head of production at DAVID Buenos Aires. 

Her addition is the latest in a recent infusion of talent at DAVID Miami that has included global chief strategy officer Paula Vampré, sr. copywriter Sarah Dembkowski and sr. art director Georgia Taylor. Fell will work collaboratively alongside EP Carlos Torres and report to managing director Ricardo Honegger.

Fell will co-lead the production department with Torres, overseeing all global clients such as Burger King and Halls. At DAVID’s Buenos Aires office she worked on award-winning campaigns including MACMA’s “Man Boobs,” which raised awareness for breast cancer, and the Unilever campaigns “Speeches” and “Farewell to the Forest.”

Fell left DAVID Buenos Aires in 2017 to move to the U.S. and diversify her experience which now spans experiential, AR/VR content and much more. She had stints not only at Leo Burnett but also at the community. In her 15-year career, Fell has worked at agencies including Ponce Buenos Aires and DDB, shooting all over the world for global brands like Coca-Cola, Verizon and Allstate, among many others. Her work has been honored with the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions, and recognition from the D&AD, The One Show, Clio Awards, London International Awards, and New York Festivals Advertising Awards competitions.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020
James Mejía named CEO of Denver Film
James Mejia

James Mejia has been appointed CEO of Denver Film, the non-profit cultural institution that produces the award-winning Denver Film Festival, the popular summertime series Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, and provides year-round film programming and education at the Sie FilmCenter. Selected after a comprehensive national search that attracted strong applicants from across the United States, the Denver native will begin serving in his new role on Aug. 10. 

Mejia brings a 25-year career to Denver Film. As CEO, he will be responsible for directing Denver Film’s overall operations, program delivery, outreach efforts and fundraising. In addition, Mejia will help guide the vision for Denver Film and build upon the organization’s 42-year history of community and industry impact.

He comes to the organization following nine years of operating his own business and political consulting firm, as well as the past three years serving as managing partner of Pan American Business where he helped diverse organizations access new markets across Colorado. 

“After some very high profile and significant challenges and successes in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the better part of the past decade running a business where I’ve enjoyed premium flexibility of my time to raise my kids and bring our family to a point that I can now jump back into the fray of running one of our city’s major cultural institutions,” said Mejia who is the father of three children. “I’ve watched and admired Denver Film’s impact on this community for decades and I’m excited to bring my skills and experiences to a team of talented professionals as we help grow and expand this organization in the decades to come. When the diverse cultural patrons of our community look at their annual memberships and charitable commitments, I want Denver Film at the top of their list, right up there with the Denver Zoo, Art Musuem, the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Nature and Science.”

Earlier in his career, Mejia was recruited by former Denver Mayors John Hickenlooper and Wellington Webb to lead and manage some of the city’s most important, complex and challenging agencies and capital projects. He served as the founding president/CEO of the nationally-recognized Denver Preschool Program, as well as project manager for the $425 million bond project to build the Denver Justice Center. 

Mejia has also served as manager for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation; deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade; executive director for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations; as well as president/COO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His 2011 Mayoral run ended with Mejia in third place among the 10 candidates in what was Denver’s closest Mayoral race in history.

“James impressed our search committee, our board and our staff the way he has impressed our business, political and cultural communities throughout his career,” said Kevin Teng, chair of the Denver Film Board of Directors and the CEO search committee. “He defines commitment and dedication and his accomplishments and proven reputation, as well as his vision for how Denver Film and its programs can expand to impact even larger, diverse audiences, pushed him to the forefront of what was a very competitive field of candidates. Our board was unanimous in approving his appointment.”

A lifelong volunteer and community servant, Mejia was the first Latino elected citywide to serve a four-year role as at-large member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. In addition, he has received numerous honors for his service and leadership on board and committees for some of the region’s most prominent organizations, foundations and charitable causes.

“From his work behind the scenes to playing a leading role, James is a highly respected and proven collaborator and leader in our community that delivers an understanding, appreciation and vision for Denver Film and the opportunities we have to help further define our city’s cultural influence,” said Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2020
Renata Florio named chief creative officer of Ogilvy Health
Renata Florio

Renata Florio has joined Ogilvy Health as chief creative officer (CCO). She will have creative oversight of all of the agency’s U.S.-based offices. Florio comes over from Ogilvy’s New York office where she served as a global executive creative director overseeing creative for its health and wellness offerings for the past three years.

Florio brings a wealth of experience both within and outside of the healthcare marketing arena, having created and executed campaigns for major consumer and healthcare brands. With her extensive international marketing experience acquired over the course of her 25-year career, Florio has been responsible for brand campaigns in more than 80 countries covering all media channels. Florio will report to Andrew Schirmer and work closely with Kate Cronin in their roles as co-presidents of Ogilvy Health.

Florio is a highly decorated creative force with widespread recognition from some of the most prestigious creative competitions in the industry, including Cannes Lions, the Effie Awards, CLIO Awards, One Show Awards, London International Awards, and the New York Festivals Advertising Awards. Florio was acknowledged as one of the Extraordinary Women in the Makers@Ogilvy competition. Additionally, she has served as a jury member for Cannes Lions, One Show and the New York Festivals competitions.

  • Monday, Jul. 27, 2020
Mower adds SVP/CD Baron, account director Chapman
Michael Baron

Independent advertising, marketing, and public relations agency Mower has added two seasoned industry vets to its roster, naming Michael Baron as sr. VP and creative director for the agency’s Buffalo, Rochester, and Boston offices and Kelly Chapman as account director for both the Buffalo and Rochester offices.

Baron, who was with Mower earlier in his career, most recently served as the executive creative director at Partners + Napier where he oversaw creative work for clients including BMW Financial Services, Corelle Brands, and Highmark Health.

Baron’s work has been recognized by The One Show, The Tellys, Effie Worldwide, and the ADDYS—where he recently took home his second consecutive Best of Broadcast Award for Highmark’s “Six Words” campaign. Prior to joining Partners + Napier, Baron also spent time at Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R, and Hill Holliday.

Chapman also joins Mower from Partners + Napier, where she helped to create and lead the agency’s Health & Wellness vertical. She has deep experience with a variety of healthcare accounts, including insurers, providers, and OTC, and will lead Mower’s healthcare specialty practice.

Her responsibilities will also include driving growth in the Buffalo and Rochester markets, as well as contributing to other new business and organic growth initiatives. Chapman, the past president of the Rochester Advertising Federation, will remain on the board and is actively seeking opportunities to support the Buffalo advertising community.

Mower has nine offices located in New York City; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; and Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse, NY.

  • Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2020
Ester Harding joins Sweetshop & Green as development exec
Ester Harding
MELBOURNE, Australia -- 

Sweetshop & Green has appointed Ester Harding as development executive across its Australia and New Zealand operations.

Harding will join recently appointed development executive Katy Roberts, and will be responsible for identifying and leading the development of Australian and New Zealand narrative and documentary projects, with a focus on international co-productions intended for a global market. Harding will nurture talent relationships and oversee slated projects throughout creative development into production and distribution. 

Harding is a screen producer. Her most recent role was with Screen Australia as a development exec. Prior to this, she produced with See Pictures the award-nominated short Remembering Agatha for writer, director and artist Emma Magenta (Adelaide FF/ABC Arts co-commission). Harding co-produced feature comedy Swinging Safari for writer, director Stephan Elliott; and she was a production executive on the adaptation of Tim Winton’s best-selling novel, “Breath,” for writer, director Simon Baker. Her career spans drama, documentary (I Am A Girl, The Surgery Ship) and interactive projects (Storm Surfers "4D," After Six-Four), together with teaching (MetroScreen, AFTRS, ICE) and community management (StoryCode, Screen Producers Australia NSW Chapter).

Gal Greenspan, co-managing director of Sweetshop & Green, said, “Ester joins us with an absolute wealth of experience that exactly fits with Sweetshop & Green’s sensibilities and ambitions for film and TV series in a topical and diverse arena. She will be integral in producing content that will arouse discussion and connect with audiences on an international level.”

Harding said, “It is an honor to join Sweetshop & Green, a company poised for global reach. While the industry is in flux, we share a constancy of creative ambition and social values. I’m excited by the challenge and opportunity to build relationships with international co-producing partners, to collaborate across our slate of projects. Together, we will focus on bringing distinctive screen stories from diverse creators to local and international audiences.”

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