Mid-year Report Card: A Sense of Purpose, The Need For Inclusion
Agency creatives, execs provide food for thought, reflections, predictions, assessments of the industry’s journey thus far in 2018

Craig Allen, head of integrated production, Venables Bell + Partners, observed, “It’s impossible to ignore today’s polarized society and the current state of distrust and uncertainty in the US, which affects who we look to for information and inspiration, and how we process messages too. Consequently, this is shifting the role that brands play in our culture and what consumers need from them nowadays, which extends far beyond the products that they sell. It’s been great to see many brands rise to the occasion, take a stand on key issues that reflect their values, and do their part to create positive change. It seems that the brands that don’t take an active role will quickly become irrelevant.”

Allen’s comments were made in response to SHOOT’s Mid-year Survey of ad agency creatives and producers. And they underscore a prevalent notion in feedback we received—that brands need to stand for something, that there’s a greater sense of purpose involved in brands determining and then conveying who they are.

Kim Jose, director of content production, KBS, noted, “It’s hard to ignore or not feel affected by the erosion of truth that’s caused push back against social media. Our current state of (political) affairs is inspiring content makers to find ways to tell truthful stories now that we are living in a time when it takes digging and persistence to find what’s real. Risks are being taken and audiences are craving and supporting stories of inclusion and human connection. From the LinkedIn campaign ‘In It Together’ directed by Stacy Peralta to Indie Film Audience Award winners like Burden by Andrew Heckler and The Sentence by Rudy Valdez, there is proof that there is an audience for independent voices to tell personal, diverse stories. Representation and inclusion is what the people want and brands to big box office film franchises are responding. The hope is we keep seeing more of this.”

Christine Lane, SVP, executive producer-Innovation at McCann NY, related, “It’s inspiring to see more purpose and authenticity in work and for these campaigns to be celebrated beyond the context of cause marketing. I expect living and communicating a brand’s values in every piece of work will become the norm rather than the one-off and content that documents what a brand is doing will be on the rise.”

Roger Camp, partner and chief creative officer at Camp + King, said, “Between the divisive negativity and the fake news, the creative community will look for, and reward, those who use creativity to solve a client’s problems in ways that add some goodness, and light, back into the world.”

Diversity, inclusion
Beyond addressing the world’s ills, the ad community has issues of its own to deal with. Kevin Botfeld, executive creative director, 22squared, affirmed, “Diversity and inclusion is dominating conversations right now in the industry. As a whole, advertising is embarrassingly behind on all fronts. It’s our duty to reflect the values and perspectives of our consumers – within our work and our workforce. But more importantly, if we give our work a diverse voice, the work will be so much more impactful. And if we don’t change rapidly, as an industry, we’ll start to see brands and companies forcing agencies to change. It’s either that or move on.”

Karen Costello, chief creative officer, The Martin Agency, said, “Many significant things have happened in 2018, but it would be impossible to ignore the #MeToo movement and what it has done to open the eyes of companies and people everywhere to the pervasive culture of sexism, harassment and abuse, and the inequitable power structures that cultivated and perpetuated it. The reckoning that needed to happen for so very long, happened. And although many of us would say change is not happening fast enough, it is indeed happening and the ad industry along with many other industries, will be fundamentally altered. For the better.”

Joe Johnson, executive creative director, Publicis NY, commented, “I love that awards shows are devoting increased attention to making the world a better place with the creation of awards like the Glass Lion and D&AD Impact, etc. But I’m even more interested in solving the problems within our own industry. Organizations like Free the Bid and Time’s Up Advertising are way overdue. I think real change is finally coming.”

Christian Hughes, president of Cutwater, noted, “We always have diversity top of our mind. When we hire we always look for a cross section of talent to interview on many dimensions. Ultimately we hire the best person for the job. The gender balance within our agency is good. This year we are looking to establish an internship program that sources talent from different communities and areas that have more diverse cultures. We want to open the door to our company and industry to talented people who may not know much about it.”

Virtual experience, AI
Immersive experiences are also top of mind for several agency artisans. Nathan Phillips, co-founder/managing partner of Technology Humans and Taste (THAT), shared, “This will be a big year for the virtual space because we are about to go cordless. All the headsets are getting external cameras which means we can have walk-around experiences while our physical bodies are in permanent reality and we are immersed in a virtual experience. So, we’ll be really focused on connecting immersive tech back to human experiences with smell, touch and movement. Our goal is to enhance all content and experience in any way we can. Product-wise I’m psyched about the Leap Motion headset and of course magic Leap. We’ll buy all the toys, but our focus will always start with creating experiences that require technology, not just the toys that make them possible.”

Adam Reeves, director of innovation, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, said, “The explosion of Artificial Intelligence, being applied everywhere from picture recognition to script creation, is astounding. It’s a fun playground for creatives—those who don’t fear the robots especially. Also, standalone VR is hitting a critical mass. Some of the work being done in that space is astounding. like Alien ‘In Utero’ from RSA and FOX Studios.”

For our Mid-year Report Card, SHOOT surveyed a cross-section of agency professionals to gain their observations and assessments of 2018 thus far.

We posed the following questions:

1) What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2018 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

2) What work (advertising or entertainment)—your own or others—struck a responsive chord with you and/or was the most effective strategically and/or creatively? Does any work stand out to you in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?

3) Though gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2018 and beyond.

4) What do recent honors on the awards show circuit (Cannes Lions, AICP Show/Next Awards, AICE winners or Emmy nominations) tell us in terms of creative and/or strategic themes and trends in the industry at large?

5) What new technology, equipment or software will you be investing in later this year or next year for your company or yourself personally, and why? Or, tell us about what new technology investment you’ve made this year and why it was a good decision—or not?

6) What efforts are you making to increase diversity and inclusion in terms of women and ethnic minority filmmakers? How do you go about mentoring new talent?

Here’s a sampling of the feedback we received.

CLICK HERE to page through the survey responses, or click on the NAME or HEADSHOT below.

Name Title Company
Craig Allen Head of Integrated Production Venables Bell + Partners
Kevin Botfeld Executive Creative Director 22squared
Roger Camp Partner & Chief Creative Officer Camp + King
Karen Costello Chief Creative Officer The Martin Agency
Ned Crowley Chief Creative Officer, U.S. mcgarrybowen
Christian Hughes President Cutwater
Joe Johnson Executive Creative Director Publicis New York
Kim Jose Director of Content Production KBS
Katie Keating Creative Director Fancy LLC
Phil Koutsis Executive Creative Director We’re Magnetic
Christine Lane SVP Executive Producer - Innovation McCann NY
Gary Paticoff EVP, Chief Production Officer RPA
Nathan Phillips Co-Founder/Managing Partner Technology Humans And Taste (THAT)
Adam Reeves Director of Innovation Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Pam Scheideler Partner, Chief Digital Officer Deutsch Los Angeles
KT Thayer Creative Director CP+B


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