• Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021
VMLY&R ups Lisa Bridgers to chief people officer, North America
Lisa Bridgers

VMLY&R has promoted Lisa Bridgers to chief people officer in North America. Bridgers will oversee progressive human resources practices centered on a “people first” philosophy, inclusive management, forward-thinking corporate practices, and support ongoing commitments for diversity, equity and inclusion. In this role, Bridgers will work closely with leaders across the agency’s 18 North American offices. Bridgers will continue to report to global chief people officer, Ronnie Felder.

With strong growth across North America in 2020 VMLY&R added around 400 full time new employees to the agency, with over a third of new hires identifying as BIPOC. Bridgers and VMLY&R will continue to build momentum in the region following a streak of recent new business wins including Sam’s Club AOR.

The employee experience team has seen further momentum in 2021, with the agency receiving a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality.

VMLY&R also implemented many new employee programs in 2020 such as:

  • FLEX: a program encouraging staff to schedule time away from their screens & meeting free time zones. 
  • A recommitment to mental health and parental and caregiver programming.
  • Additional Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): employee-led and company-funded social, cultural, and minority groups that help our employees advocate for important causes, embrace differences, and foster an environment that enables employees to bring their whole selves to work.
  • NeXus: a modified version of the agency’s successful internship program. Virtual masterclass including regular seminars and matching participants with agency mentors. 

Bridgers’s HR function partners with The VMLY&R Foundation, an integral part of the agency’s DNA since day one. Through the VMLY&R Foundation, the agency provides a range of support to nonprofit organizations and worthy causes chosen by their employees. 

Bridgers is a longstanding WPP employee, joining the agency in 2017 following its merger with Rockfish. She previously served as regional director, employee experience. 

She originally joined Rockfish as part of the talent acquisition team and spent the following years implementing progressive human resources practices building a people-first agency, which ultimately lead to her appointment as chief people officer.

Prior to joining Rockfish, Bridgers held talent acquisition and human resources positions for more than two decades, including stints at Saatchi & Saatchi X and Robert Half International.  

She is the co-creator of the Women in the Workforce conference in Northwest Arkansas, and a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for the Women’s Empowerment Center.  Bridgers holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Arkansas Tech University and is an active volunteer in her community. 

  • Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021
Veteran colorist Tony Dustin joins Company 3 Toronto
Tony Dustin

Company 3 has added film and TV colorist Tony Dustin to its Toronto roster. With over two decades creating work on major features and episodic programming, Dustin has been sought after for his artistic eye and collaborative working style. Recent work includes the powerful feature film Harriet and writer/director/producer Ava DuVernay’s series, Cherish the Day.   

Dustin’s previous credits include the Netflix dramatic series Sense8, for which he was nominated for the Hollywood Professional Association’s (HPA) Outstanding Color Award, NBC’s long running The Blacklist and Hulu’s Stephen King-inspired series, Castle Rock. Features include Best Picture Academy Oscar nominee Silver Linings Playbook and the multiple-award-winning feature drama Gran Torino. He has collaborated with some of filmmaking’s leading lights, including directors David O. Russell and Clint Eastwood and acclaimed cinematographers Hoyte van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC and John Toll, ASC.      

Born in Utah, Dustin spent much of his youth in Palm Springs, Calif. A part time job at the then major L.A.-based post house Editel helped him discover his love of filmmaking and post. After honing his craft at various post companies, he moved to Technicolor where he assisted Stephen Nakamura (now Company 3’s co-head, Feature Post), soon becoming an in-demand colorist in his own right. Dustin will begin work immediately on a slate of feature film and TV work. 

  • Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021
WorkInProgress promotes Molly Schaaf to director of video production
Molly Schaaf
BOULDER, Colo. -- 

WorkInProgress (WIP), a full-service, innovation and advertising agency, has promoted Molly Schaaf to director of video production. Schaaf joined WIP in July 2019 as an executive producer.

In her new role, Schaaf reports to Stafford Bosak, one of WIP’s founding partners who oversees all aspects of production for the agency. 

“Molly has been central to what we do since day one at WorkInProgress,” Stafford said. “She recently led the flawless execution of five simultaneous productions with a Zen-like calm. Now in this leadership role, Molly will focus on pushing our film craft to the highest level.”

A seasoned marketing professional with 20 years of world-class industry experience, Schaaf has served on the brand marketing side for PopSockets and StubHub and in various producer roles at several agencies, including Made, DDB, McCann, and The Martin Agency. At the latter, she spent seven years managing all production for the GEICO and Hanes accounts.

Stafford described Schaaf as a “work in progress in the truest sense” and the perfect person to lead video production. She is obsessed with details and loves to travel—she’s worked in 12 different countries across four continents. She geeks out on logistics and finding the best local everything to sample when afield—especially healthy food. She’s also a certified yoga instructor and an avid competition-level distance runner.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021
The Mill names managing directors in L.A., London, Berlin
Anastasia Von Rahl

The Mill has appointed three new managing directors across leading divisions in the U.S. and Europe. 
Anastasia Von Rahl has been promoted to managing director in The Mill’s Los Angeles location where she will oversee the studio and client experience across all capabilities, from traditional VFX to in-house directed creative and experiential work. 

Von Rahl has been an integral part of the leadership team since she joined The Mill in 2013. In her previous role as director of production, she was pivotal in securing and overseeing award-winning VFX projects, including numerous top-ranked Super Bowl campaigns. These projects, among many others, have led Von Rahl to develop and strengthen strong client relationships with agencies, brands and production companies alike. 

Misha Stanford Harris, previously head of production, has been appointed as managing director for the London based studio. And Justin Stiebel has taken on the newly created role of managing director in The Mill’s recently opened boutique studio in Berlin. 

Josh Mandel, The Mill CEO, said, “As we further embrace our global capabilities and structure, our aim is to build a leadership team that both helps us maintain the continuity in people and practices that have driven our success while focusing on future opportunities through growth and evolution. Anastasia, Justin and Misha have all been strong voices within The Mill who bring incredible passion for people, craft and growth to their roles. Together they represent many years of experience that will help us navigate the evolving world of VFX and define our growth through new brand partnerships.”

  • Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021
WAX adds commercial and film editor Alex Pirrone to its roster
Alex Pirrone

Boutique postproduction shop WAX has brought New York-based commercial and film editor Alex Pirrone aboard its roster.

Most recently, Pirrone edited Ford’s multi-part, long-form series, “Mustang Mach-E v Everything,” through post house Friendshop!, his roost prior to WAX. Pirrone’s other most notable campaigns include Seinhessier’s “Athlete” (directed by Sam Pilling) for the MOMENTUM III Wireless, IBM’s “Dear Tech,” and Kraken Rum’s “A Tale Well Told.” The latter was short-listed for an AICP Post Award. Beyond advertising, he has also been involved in work such as the short documentary Màs Fuerte, which was directed by Sean Frank and garnered an official selection at the Brooklyn Film Festival, as well as A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, which won the Best Documentary (Short Subject) Oscar in 2016. Pirrone was an associate editor on A Girl in the River, which was directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, with Geof Bartz serving as editor.

WAX founder and executive producer Toni Lipari described Pirrone as “an incredibly talented editor whose creative ability is evident in everything he cuts. What ultimately separates him from most in the editing community, and makes him a perfect fit at WAX, is that he’s deeply involved during the ideation stage, which allows him to get wholly immersed in a production before anything’s even filmed. He’s an amazing cultural fit to our team as we continue to strengthen our capabilities.”

  • Monday, Mar. 1, 2021
Amy Armstrong promoted to global CEO for IPG's Initiative
Amy Armstrong

Amy Armstrong has been named CEO of global media agency Initiative, part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) family of shops. She succeeds Mat Baxter, who will take on the role of global chairman at Initiative through 2021. Baxter has served as Initiative’s CEO since 2016, and will stay within IPG in a new leadership role that the company plans to announce in the coming months.

Armstrong has held leadership roles at various IPG agencies for over 20 years, most recently as U.S. CEO for Initiative. Since joining Initiative in 2016, she has transformed the company’s U.S. operations, including driving business results for her clients and substantial revenue growth for the agency. Initiative’s U.S. operations also won significant new business under her leadership, including Liberty Mutual, Nintendo, Gilead, and T-Mobile, creating one of the strongest new business track records in the media sector. 

Armstrong has also been a steadfast champion for diversity and inclusion for the agency. Unhappy with the role biases play in conventional hiring approaches, she overhauled Initiative’s recruiting process to one that achieves bias neutrality. Her work is helping the agency build more fair and equitable representation of BIPOC within the company. Under Armstrong’s leadership, diversity has increased throughout the U.S. operations, although much work still remains to be done.

“During his tenure as CEO, Mat has brought a strategic lens, as well as a focus on culture and creativity as the key drivers of consumer media engagement. This has led to a transformation at Initiative, making it one of our fastest-growing businesses and the top media agency network in terms of global new business momentum,” commented Philippe Krakowsky, CEO of IPG. “Mat has the ability to attract and develop top talent, and under his leadership the Initiative team has seen significant evolution, with clients turning to the network for advice and solutions across a broader range of marketing challenges. We’re excited to have him look at other areas of our portfolio that he can help transform and elevate. We are also fortunate that his long-time partner, Amy, who has played a key role in Initiative’s strong record of success in recent years, will be stepping into the global CEO role, which ensures that the positive trajectory for Initiative and its clients can continue.”

Prior to her role at Initiative, Armstrong ran BPN Worldwide and served as president of ID Media. She began her career with IPG at FCB, where she worked in their media practice area. Active in charity causes, Armstrong has spearheaded fundraising for gastric and esophageal cancer organizations, including the DeGregorio Foundation.

  • Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
DNEG Feature Animation bolsters senior creative team with Ted Ty, Archie Donato
Ted Ty

DNEG Feature Animation has appointed two new senior creative hires to bolster its leadership team. Ted Ty joins as global head of character animation based in Montreal, while Archie Donato relocates from Los Angeles to join the team as VFX supervisor on a major new project in London.

DNEG Feature Animation is currently in production on a number of high-profile animated projects, including animated musical feature Under the Boardwalk for Paramount Animation, and is in development on the very first animated adaptation of The Great Gatsby with Oscar-winning director William Joyce.

These new hires follow the appointment of former Skydance executive David Prescott, who joined the team last year as sr. VP of creative production.

Ty joins DNEG Feature Animation with over 25 years of experience and a deep understanding of both 2D and 3D animation. Ty started his career at Walt Disney Animation where he worked as a 2D animator under the mentorship of animation legends such as Mark Henn, Ruben Aquino and James Baxter on animated features such as Mulan and Lilo & Stitch. Following a move to DreamWorks, he contributed to major 3D animated features such as Puss in Boots, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Rise of the Guardians.

Ty is a noted and prolific animation instructor, having taught animation masterclasses at CalArts, CTNX Expo, DreamWorks, SCAD, Pixel Quebec and iAnimate.net. He is also a master teacher at YoungArts Foundation. His most recent work was as head of animation and co-director of animated action-comedy feature Fireheart.

VFX supervisor Donato brings a cinematic perspective and a background in live action filmmaking to his new role for DNEG Feature Animation, as well as experience at ILM, Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues and 17 years at DreamWorks Animation. During his time at DreamWorks, Donato contributed to many of the studio’s biggest films, most notably as CG Lead on Kung Fu Panda, Megamind, Monsters vs Aliens and Shrek Forever After, lighting supervisor on Rise of the Guardians and CG supervisor on Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Most recently, Donato has turned his talents to VFX supervision for episodic content on shows like Home Before Dark for Apple TV+, Messiah for Netflix and The Loudest Voice for Showtime.

  • Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
Eleven hires creative director Michael de Wit, sr. designer Ruben Martinez
Michael de Wit

Creative agency Eleven, which maintains locations in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, has hired Michael de Wit and Ruben Martinez as, respectively, creative director and sr. designer. 

“Michael and Ruben bring a wealth of international experience to Eleven,” said Mike McKay, chief creative officer at Eleven. “Having worked on global brands like adidas, Vans, Coca-Cola and The North Face, they’ll
help us creatively tap into cultures around the world for Samsung, CommonSpirit Health and many other clients.”

With more than 20 years of experience in creative/art directing, de Wit will leverage his international experience working with lifestyle brands like Vans, adidas, Oakley and Converse, to drive Eleven’s creative and new business approach in 2021. De Wit directed various campaigns and activations throughout his career in Amsterdam, Boston, New York and more, including Converse’s ‘Made by you’ and adidas’ “adidas Running x ISS.” De Wit most recently served as creative director at Unlisted Brand Lab.

Martinez will build on Eleven’s design-focused foundation, bringing to the agency decades of design expertise from working with brands such as Coca-Cola, Amazon and adidas. Today, Eleven is blending design, marketing and brand innovation, and Martinez has been tapped to support those capabilities with his campaign design experience. Martinez will be working with clients such as Casper, Cadre, The Kraken Rum, Samsung, Pella and Electrify America. Prior to joining Eleven, Martinez had been freelancing; earlier he had been at Starch Creative.

De Wit will join McKay and five other creative directors immediately assuming responsibilities for Samsung and CommonSpirit Health while Martinez will work across a range of agency assignments. Additionally, de Wit will play a role in new business development, further extending Eleven’s reach and scope across verticals.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
Annette Sally named EVP at Blue Sky Agency
Annette Sally

Annette Sally has been named executive VP at Atlanta-based independent agency Blue Sky. Sally will be responsible for overseeing the agency’s client relations and new business development.

She comes to Blue Sky most recently from 22squared, where she was executive director of client services. In that role, Sally oversaw clients including The Home Depot, Publix, SunTrust, Baskin-Robbins, and Southeast Toyota. Previously, she was an EVP at Leo Burnett Worldwide, Arnold NYC, and Grey Group, where she managed global brand portfolios such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Edgewell Personal Care.

At Leo Burnett Sally was account lead on the critically acclaimed and culture-changing campaign Always #LikeaGirl, which swept the awards circuit, winning an Emmy, Global Gold Effie, Black Pencil, Grand Clio, Titanium Lion, Glass Lion, and the Grand Prix at Cannes.

“Annette’s track record speaks for itself and is a true testament to her comprehensive experience working with clients to produce exceptional work,” said Blue Sky CEO Rob Farinella. “She’s a courageous leader who’s not afraid to challenge industry standards. Annette’s ability to impact our client’s brands and businesses in a more entrepreneurial agency environment is truly exciting. She’s a team player whose intuitive strategic acumen is matched only by her friendly and caring personality.”

Sally’s new role, paired with the 2020 hiring of executive creative director Mariana Costa, brings together two powerhouse women from large holding company agencies. “I’m very excited to be joining an independent agency that consistently elevates client partners to new heights,” said Sally. “I’m especially thrilled to be working alongside Mariana Costa to grow client business to its greatest potential.”

  • Monday, Feb. 22, 2021
Preymaker expands production team, adds Zachary Fortin, Bridgette Doran
Zachary Fortin (l) and Bridgette Doran

Creative and technology studio Preymaker has added Zachary Fortin in production and Bridgette Doran in operations. Utilizing an advanced custom cloud-based platform, Preymaker is one of the first 100% cloud native creative studios that creates content entirely in the cloud. Fortin will focus on Preymaker’s clients and running projects, while Doran will be responsible for resourcing and talent management. 

Fortin, who worked most recently as a VFX producer at The Mill and prior to that at Imaginary Forces, said the decision to join Preymaker came down largely to his respect for the people there. The entirely cloud-based pipeline and extensive capabilities that go beyond traditional visual effects were also a draw. Fortin said, “I think it’s evident that the technology landscape is converging the games industry, the VFX industry and the immersive industry. With the way Preymaker has established its infrastructure which makes us limitless in terms of scalability, and with the talent we are seeking, I think it’s pretty safe to say you will see some genre-bending projects.”
Doran brings a holistic production industry background to Preymaker, having worked previously in the entertainment industry at Viacom and Marvel Entertainment on everything from large-scale, live tentpole events to episodic and digital content. Joining Preymaker, Doran said, was an opportunity to be hands-on creating something new. “There are no hoops to jump through or red tape to cut back,” she said. “If you have an idea then you are free to voice it and empowered to action it. I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve been with Preymaker; it’s a real testament to just how innovative the work is this team is doing.” 
“Zach and Bridgette excel at logistics, multi-tasking and creative collaboration, and they keep their cool with the challenges that can arise on a job or operationally. Their respective expertise and support will make it possible for our team to do the best creative work possible,” said Verity Grantham, who serves as executive producer at Preymaker along with Melanie Wickham. Chief creative at Preymaker is Angus Kneale. 

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