• Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020
mcgarrybowen promotes Lucia Grillo to U.S. chief operating officer
Lucia Grillo
NEW YORK -- 

Lucia Grillo has been promoted to U.S. chief operating officer for mcgarrybowen. Grillo joined the agency as head of operations only a year ago to oversee operations across the agency’s three U.S.-based offices: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. In her elevated role, she will take on responsibilities for resource and project management, finance, and process in support of developing a world-class creative product for clients. 

Grillo will report to Jon Dupuis, who was recently installed as mcgarrybowen’s first global president, and where he is running the global American Express account since the agency won the business two years ago.

Dupuis said. “In only a year, Lucia made a tremendous impact on bringing efficiency to our operations. Her approach was never about doing more with less, rather in finding the best ways to champion great work for our clients. She has brought value in creating excellence in how we work to drive excellence in what we create.”

Grillo joined mcgarrybowen last year from Droga5 where she was the production development director, working to create new process and working models across departments at the agency. Prior to that, she worked for sibling Dentsu agency 360i, where she was head of integrated production. Earlier, Grillo worked at VICE Media, spent 10 years as managing director of Psyop in NY, and got her start in the production department of McCann.

Grillo said, “Our clients come to mcgarrybowen for our strategic thinking and creative excellence, so everything we do, whether it’s process, workflow, etc. should serve that goal and that goal alone.  For the past year, we’ve looked at what we do best across offices, and we’ve worked to optimize that, and now we look forward to taking the effort to the next level.”

  • Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020
Deutsch LA names Kelsey Karson SVP, group strategy director on Taco Bell
Kelsey Karson
LOS ANGELES -- 

Deutsch LA has hired Kelsey Karson as SVP, group strategy director, to lead all strategy efforts for Taco Bell. Karson joins Deutsch from R/GA, where she was the architect behind many of the agency’s most disruptive and culture-impacting campaigns. She will report directly to Kelsey Hodgkin, Deutsch LA’s EVP, head of strategy.

Karson will be tasked with continuing to develop innovative strategies that connect Taco Bell with its fans. With the recent expansion of the agency’s scope to include social efforts, Karson will oversee all brand efforts, including upcoming campaigns for Taco Bell’s loyalty program, new product launches and platform work.

Karson is a Texan who made her way to Los Angeles to work on the Beats by Dre brand at HUSTLE, R/GA’s conflict shop. There she created campaigns that reacted to culture in real time, including LeBron’s return to Cleveland, the NFL draft, and leading the strategy for the infamous “Straight Outta Somewhere” campaign, which was the first campaign to trend simultaneously on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Karson then spent time at R/GA’s LA office, where she led strategy for brands such as Barbie, Amazon, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Amazon, to name a few. Throughout her career, she has collected top industry accolades including numerous Cannes Lions, CLIO, D&AD, Webby, Shorty, and Jay Chiat awards.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020
Tara Maloney joins Framestore as head of production in NY
Tara Maloney
NEW YORK -- 

Oscar-winning creative studio Framestore has appointed Tara Maloney as its head of production in New York. She joins a leadership team under the aegis of managing director Charles Howell.

In her role, Maloney will oversee the production team and maintain the high standard of client and project management for which Framestore is known. 

Maloney joins from Taylor James (formerly Smoke & Mirrors after the two companies merged in the U.S. and Mexico) where she rose from sr. producer to head of production over her six-year tenure, supervising the successful integration of the two companies in the U.S. She also played a key role in managing operations, finances and production output across multiple offices.

Maloney has worked with a host of big name brands and their products, including Coca-Cola, Fanta, American Express, and Heineken, as well as across episodic content for Netflix and A&E Networks. Her postproduction experience ranges across print, design, animation, live action, VFX and 3D.

Prior to Taylor James, Maloney ran the graphics division at A&E Networks where she was responsible for scheduling, supervision and execution of all promotional graphics for A&E, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, History, H2 and Biography Channels.

  • Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020
Katie Hooten named head of studio at Technicolor Pre-Pro Studio
Katie Hooten
LOS ANGELES -- 

Technicolor has named Katie Hooten as head of studio at its Pre-Production Studio in Los Angeles.

The Technicolor Pre-Production Studio was launched last year as a resource for filmmakers, creating a seamless pipeline for feature projects--from concept art, visualization and real-time production, through to final VFX. This ensures that a storyteller’s vision carries through to the end exactly as intended, while saving time and resources along the way for a more efficient, in-control filmmaking process.

An industry veteran with 20 plus years of feature film experience in live-action, animation, VFX, and immersive entertainment, Hooten first joined Technicolor’s MPC Art Department as creative producer after appointments at Blur Studio, The Third Floor, and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Her recent producing work includes Love, Death + Robots with director Tim Miller as well as visualization for some of the largest franchises in the feature space. She partnered with creatives on the breakout hit Hoodwinked which challenged the model of traditional animated filmmaking and kicked off a wave of indie animation that continues today.

In her role as head of studio, Hooten will manage the LA team at the Pre-Production Studio, providing top talent, tools, and workflows for Art Department and Visualization services, as well as real-time production and VFX.

Reporting to Hooten are: 

  • The Art Department, which works closely with clients to understand their vision, creating artwork--including characters, creatures, props, and environments--that reflects that vision and sets the tone for the project.
  • And Visualization and Real-Time Production, which also works closely with clients to digitally perfect their visions before they hit the set by leveraging the latest visualization tools and techniques; then seamlessly transitioning to collaborative workflows that provide real-time creative control over every aspect of a project.

Also based at the L.A. studio are: VFX supervisors, who offer award-caliber creative leadership across all aspects of VFX on a project, whether delivered by Technicolor’s industry-leading studios or third-party vendors; and Business Development, which partners with clients, from project budgeting to consulting on VFX methodologies, to help plan and prepare projects for a smooth transition into VFX--while supporting Technicolor’s VFX studios; MPC, Mill Film, MR. X and Mikros VFX.

Working closely with Hooten in this latter department is Jazz Flood, global business development. Flood has been a key member of the team for nearly 10 years, recently moving from London to Los Angeles to head up Business Development, and instrumental in securing projects such as Blade Runner 2049, Dumbo, and Call of the Wild.

The Pre-Production Studio is standalone from Technicolor’s visual effects brands--MPC, Mill Film, MR. X and Technicolor VFX--yet can work cooperatively with one or any combination of them to design an individualized production plan, regardless of project size, budget, format or creative aesthetic.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020
The Colonie launches color grading division, hires Jennifer Gaida
Jennifer Gaida
CHICAGO -- 

The Colonie has added colorist Jennifer Gaida to its team. Her hiring marks the launch of the Chicago-based company’s color grading division, rounding out the one-stop editing, design, and postproduction boutique’s full-roster of high-end services and talent.

Gaida exited Energy BBDO’s Flare and officially joined The Colonie staff at the beginning of the year. A previous three-year stint at Utopic honed her skills as both a colorist and editor. Her addition to The Colonie’s team of editors, designers, creative directors, animators, producers, visual effects artists and finishers provides clients with an accessible collective of top-tier talent--all under one roof.

Her credits include color grading broadcast commercials and social media campaigns for a mix of national brands, such as Starbucks, Porsche, Revlon, and Pantene. Gaida has also been called on to color grade a variety of independent projects, including the short films Milk Shake and Networking Lunch, as well as several music videos, such as the recently released “Stayed Down” featuring Twista.

Gaida has settled into The Colonie’s new Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve suite and hit the ground running, completing projects for Perrier, Cresco, La Mer, Walmart, HP, and a Toyota campaign out of Burrell Communications. 

“In 2020, we plan to continue building The Colonie’s team of out-of-the-box creative thinkers and providing innovative solutions for every size screen while getting the most out of each budget. Our goal is to keep raising the bar and bringing exceptional talent on board. The addition of Jennifer does just that,” said company partner and sr. editor Brian Sepanik.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020
BaconX adds Eliana Carranza-Pitcher as COO and EP
Eliana Carranza-Pitcher
COPENHAGEN -- 

Danish VFX, post and color studio BaconX has brought Eliana Carranza-Pitcher on board as executive producer and chief operating officer. She comes over from The Mill in New York where she served as EP, working for clients such as Sony PlayStation, Samsung and Macy’s during the past 10 years.

BaconX’s credits range from notable commercials such as Volkswagen’s “Horses” to feature films like Valhalla. The company regularly works with leading directors including Andreas Nilsson, Martin Werner and Martin de Thurah. 

Jonas Drehn, BaconX co-founder, said of Carranza-Pitcher’s arrival, “As we are already doing international projects and are experiencing a growing interest from abroad, it is the perfect time to bring on a person who can help scale our business.” 

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Stephanie Nerlich named global chief client officer at Havas Creative Group
Stephanie Nerlich
NEW YORK -- 

Havas Creative Group has named Stephanie Nerlich its global chief client officer. Nerlich brings significant expertise in general management, marketing communications and transforming corporate culture to the newly created role after nearly four years at MDC Partners, where she most recently served as EVP partner development and talent (and interim office of the CEO). With a proven track record of building brands and delivering growth, Nerlich will work alongside Tracey Barber, global CMO of Havas Creative Group, and will report into Chris Hirst, global CEO, Havas Creative Group.

While at MDC Partners, Nerlich was responsible for supporting agencies across the broad spectrum of communications services including innovation, advanced analytics, customer experience and digital design, in addition to media, PR, experiential and traditional creative functions. Her role was designed to aid agency CEOs and champion key partner initiatives, drive talent—including recruitment—and evolve platforms for scale. Nerlich collaborated with executive teams to drive organizational structure change, while also fueling creative and operations initiatives. Prior to MDC Partners, Nerlich served as president and CEO of Grey Canada.

As part of Havas Creative Group global CEO Hirst’s global leadership team, Nerlich will be responsible for global client relationship development and best practice. She will work with agency CEOs to support Havas’ portfolio of global and large regional clients, driving integration and ensuring client-centricity is at the core of the group’s growth strategy.

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Merritt Duff joins Union as partner/editor
Merritt Duff
NEW YORK -- 

Merritt Duff, an award-winner well-known for his Progressive campaigns via Arnold Boston with director Brendan Gibbons (including last month’s acclaimed “Progressive Halftime Show”), has joined bicoastal Union as partner/editor. His recent work includes Frontier (Hill Holliday), directed by The Perlorian Brothers, and a Gibbons-directed Mastercard project with PGA Tour golfers Justin Rose and Tom Watson (McCann NY). Duff has earned considerable acclaim for his work, including One Show Pencils, a Cannes Lion, multiple AICE Award nominations, numerous Hatch Awards, a Clio, and the 2016 Super Clio for the Jeep spot, “Portraits.” He has twice been honored by the Primetime Emmy Awards for his contributions to NBC’s Saturday Night Live, on which he served as an associate producer. Duff comes over from Beast. 

Duff’s collaborations with the likes of directors Gibbons, The Perlorians, Steve Miller, Randy Krallman, Tim Godsall, Eric Wareheim and others have their roots in a six-year stint at SNL, where the Colby College grad was immersed in every aspect of his craft, from pre-production through postproduction, working primarily on the series’ much-lauded commercial parodies. Turning his focus to editing, Duff joined the newly launched boutique editing house Cutting Room in 2005, where his gift for comedic storytelling was quickly recognized, precipitating his rise to a senior editorial position. After 11 years working with clients such as ESPN, FedEx, Adidas, Lowes, and Progressive, Duff joined Beast’s New York office in 2016, focusing on commercial projects for additional high-profile brands such as BMW, GE, Mastercard, Toyota, AT&T, and Bank of America, while also taking enormous satisfaction in mentoring younger staff members and nurturing their talent.

Duff has additionally cut national spots for Subway, E-trade, Verizon, Tide, Band-Aid, Johnnie Walker, Smart Car, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Arby’s, Comcast, Campbell’s Soup, Progresso, Dole, Nestle, Newcastle, Crest, Mucinex, Planet Fitness, USTA, NBA, New York Lottery, Match.com, Avis, HBO, and Footlocker, among others.

“I’m so thankful every day that I found my way to commercial editing,” said Duff. “It’s a special niche that we’re in, so I strive to provide a suitably special environment for creatives and producers who walk through the door – one in which every detail is attended to with an earnest and open mind as well as a healthy dose of humor.”

Union is under the aegis of partner/managing director Michael Raimondi and partner/executive producer Caryn Maclean.

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Hornet promotes Labriola, Kwan, Geren, Stavracos
Kristin Labriola
NEW YORK -- 

Multidisciplinary production studio Hornet has promoted four staffers who collectively have worked with the company for more than 30 years.

Kristin Labriola has been promoted to head of creative development, a new role within the Hornet studio. For eight years, Labriola has operated as the development producer at Hornet, where she developed the creative strategy behind Hornet’s commercial pitch process, managed this process logistically and creatively from beginning to end, and helped with director outreach and the continued fostering of Hornet’s director roster. 

Cathy Kwan has been promoted to executive producer. Kwan has been with Hornet for close to a decade. Prior to Hornet, she worked in long-form television production for children’s programming, managing relationships with animation studios and seeing to all phases of production. Her role as sr. producer at Hornet has seen her work with a number of major clients, including ongoing campaigns with Facebook. As she moves into her EP role, Kwan will bid and produce jobs along with a more concentrated emphasis on further developing Hornet’s client relationships at Hornet.

Marty Geren has been promoted to sr. producer. Geren has been with Hornet for the last 10 years, the first half of which was as a CG lead before becoming a producer. As Geren moved into his role as a producer, his extensive background in CG modeling, lighting, texturing, and rendering made him the perfect liaison between art and production at Hornet. For nine years, he has led the McDonald’s campaign with Leo Burnett London, one of Hornet’s longest relationships. 

And Dez Stavracos has been promoted to sr. producer. With a strong background in 2D animation and six years as a producer at Hornet, Stavracos’ journey to sr. producer has been eclectic and interesting. After studying traditional animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York, he worked for three years as a producer for renowned animator and filmmaker Bill Plympton. Stavracos’ experience with long-form 2D animation—his first “true love”—has made him an invaluable contributor to the 2D department at Hornet. Moving forward, he will continue to produce with an added focus on nurturing and developing the 2D team.

Hornet managing partner Michael Feder said the promotions “are really about empowering a group of wonderfully talented team members who’ve been at the core of Hornet’s evolution over the years.”

  • Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020
Digital Domain names Kevin Lau ECD of advertising, games & new media 
Kevin Lau (center) flanked by EPs Nicole Fina (l) and John Canning.
LOS ANGELES -- 

Visual effects studio Digital Domain has named Kevin Lau executive creative director of advertising, games and new media. In this new position, Lau will oversee all short-form projects and act as a creative partner for agencies and brands that want to realize any idea on screen.

Lau brings over 18 years of ad-based visual effects and commercial production experience, honed on campaigns for major brands like Target, Visa and Sprint. Most recently, he was the executive creative director and founding partner at Timber, an L.A.-based studio focused on ads (GMC, Winter Olympics) and music videos (Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”). Prior to that, he held creative director positions at Mirada, Brand New School and Superfad. His work has been honored with multiple awards including Clios, AICP Show honors, MTV VMAs and a Cannes Gold Lion for Sprint’s “Now Network” campaign (Goodby Silverstein & Partners).

“Kevin has a terrific lineage as a storyteller and for shepherding projects that weave stunning design and VFX into the fabric of a short-form narratives,” said John Fragomeni, president of Digital Domain. “He joins EP’s Nicole Fina and John Canning, as they continue to build our growing short-form business. Kevin adds a special dimension to our strong creative team and will have access to our global network of studios and hundreds of world-class artists, helping us to produce the pedigree of work that makes products and experiences stand out.”

Lau will help unify the vision for the advertising & games and new media & experiential groups, promoting a consistent voice across campaigns. His appointment follows a two-year growth streak that has seen Digital Domain partnering with brands like Google, Mountain Dew, BMW, Apple and Nike, along with agencies and directors like Spike Jonze, 72andSunny, HEAT, Partizan, Reset and RSA. Lau joins the team as the new media group prepares to unveil its biggest project yet, TIME’s The March, a groundbreaking virtual reality recreation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Digital Domain’s experience with digital humans will play a major role in the future of both groups, as they continue to build on the photoreal cinematics and in-game characters previously created for Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. 

“As short-form content continues to evolve, having a partner that can adapt with the changing landscape is going to be essential for brands and advertisers,” said Lau. “DD has always distinguished themselves as an innovative creative partner and industry leader in VFX. Beyond that, the studio’s new media group has been doing some groundbreaking work in immersive and experiential projects and I wanted to be a part of that. I look forward to having access to DD’s incredible talent, deep knowledge base and cutting edge technology to help agencies bring amazing stories to life.”

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