Mid-year Report Card Survey: Lessons Learned From The Pandemic, Social Injustice
A cross-section of the industry assesses the state of the business, the need for positivity, inclusion, diversity

Is the glass half full or half empty? Or should we instead just look through the glass to see a better world and then reflect on what each of us can do in order to move that vision closer to reality?

In its Midyear Report Card Survey, SHOOT sought feedback from a cross-section of the industry and found a sense of purpose, a need for positivity in the face of adversity, and a willingness to take on responsibility--and to take action--to help attain the greater good for our society. 

The need to be accountable and proactive has seemingly sprung out of extraordinary times which have seen us struggle with not only a pandemic but another epidemic in the form of systemic racism that has shaken us to the core. While we seem more divided than ever--not even able to fully unite against a virus that has claimed upwards of 600,000 lives in the U.S.--there’s a burning need for us to somehow come out of all this whole again. Towards that end, an increasing number of brands are taking a stand for social justice, and in both the entertainment and ad industry sectors storytelling has become essential to promoting empathy and concern for others.

Hope springs eternal, though, as there’s evidence of communities coming together, including in the business world. Ali Brown, president/EP of PRETTYBIRD, related, “I don’t think we’ll ever forget the impact of the pandemic. I think despite the incredible stress and fear we all felt, it also forged partnerships and trust between agencies, clients, and production companies that I hope will remain. It was a moment in time where you had to join hands and take a leap together, and even as we start to be able to return very cautiously back to filming more traditionally, there are certain hands I hope to never let go of.”

On the agency side, Nicole Ellingson, creative director at Quigley-Simpson, observed, “The pandemic made clear the fundamental need for human connection. The barriers of isolation meant that connection needed to be more active, creative, and intentional. This had an important impact on me as I had to be more proactive in reaching out to people, connecting with my team, and being more thoughtful about how we connect to people through our work. During the pandemic, our clients tasked us with bringing people joy, and that is something I want to see continue. If that is not our compass, what is?

“We created virtual events, at home meal kits, road trip itineraries, and rewards that did just that,” she continued. “Moving forward, I hope this ethos continues to guide us. Whatever the circumstances, whether personal, professional or through a campaign, we need to meet people where they are with a positive intention. Modern advertising is about building community and how you impact that community matters. That shift was certainly accelerated during the pandemic.”

And community building has to be shaped by diversity and inclusion. Chris Graves, chief creative officer at Team One, shared, “The industry had a stark wake-up call to say the very least. We all looked in the mirror and realized that we had a lot of work to do. Our team realized there were a couple areas we have the most control over. Internally, we’re focused on increasing the diversity and representation of our team. Externally, we’re taking a hard look at the actual messaging our brands put out into the world. We speak to an incredibly diverse market, and the focus on diversity is no longer simply a casting question. We’ve built it into our process to specifically review work to ensure under-represented communities are not just well represented, but in a positive and culturally relevant way. And to do that well we need to build a team with diverse backgrounds and experiences, including the talent we have behind the camera and across the production community. Modern consumers are looking to do business with brands that actively promote diversity and inclusion, and they connect with brands they can identify with. If our work is going to have an impact in culture, we need to find additional levels of cultural understanding that we may have been missing. In the end, the goal for us is to make our work more impactful in the real world. Not just blindly mirroring society, but remembering we are part of shaping it.”

Brown, Ellingson and Graves were among 30-plus industry professionals who were surveyed to gain their takes on the industry a little more than halfway through 2021.

SHOOT posed the following questions:

  1. What’s the impact of the pandemic on you, your company, your approach to doing business in the future? What practices emerged that you will continue even as restrictions are loosening?
  2. How has the call for equity, racial and social justice affected, honed or influenced your sense of responsibility as a company in terms of the content you create and/or your commitment to opening up opportunities for filmmaking talent from underrepresented backgrounds?
  3. What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in that was or is in the running for current awards season consideration (i.e., Emmys, Cannes Lions, etc.)
  4. While gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2021 and beyond.
  5. What are your goals, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your company, division, studio or network in 2021?
  6. What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2021 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?
  7. What work (advertising, entertainment)--your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you and/or was the most effective creatively and/or strategically so far this year? Does any work stand out to you in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?
What follows is the feedback we received from a wide range of respondents... CLICK HERE to page through the survey responses, or click on the NAME or HEADSHOT below (shown in alphabetical order by last name).
Name Title Company
Vedia Ayvaz SVP, Entertainment Marketing & Design Known
Jesse Brihn Director of Film and Content Production Droga5
Ali Brown President/Executive Producer PRETTYBIRD
Dalia Burde Founder/Executive Producer Avocados and Coconuts
Joe Calabrese EVP, Director of Integrated Production Deutsch NY
Hillary Coate Head of Integrated Production Venables Bell + Partners
Tasha Dean EVP, Head of Production The Martin Agency
Jesse Dylan CEO & Founder Wondros
Lisa Effress Managing Partner 11 Dollar Bill
Nicole Ellingson Creative Director Quigley-Simpson
Thibaut Estellon Founder/Executive Producer REVERSE
Jason Gaboriau Chief Creative Officer Doner
Bonnie Goldfarb Co-Founder/Executive Producer harvest films
Chris Graves Chief Creative Officer Team One
Gabe Hajiani Head of Creation and Content DNA
Suzanne Keen Creative Director Zambezi
Andrew Loevenguth Head of Integrated Production Cartwright
Lola Lott Principal/CEO charlieuniformtango
Lisa Mehling President/Owner Chelsea Pictures
Nicole Michels McDonagh Group Creative Director Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP)
Josh Mandel CEO The Mill
John McKelvey Founder & Chief Creative Officer Mirimar
Tim Pries Co-Founder/Executive Producer Where the Buffalo Roam
Steve Red President & Co-Chief Creative Officer Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners
Elena Robinson Head of Production OKRP
Mel Senecal Director of Integrated Production Mojo Supermarket
Lisa Setten SVP, Executive Director of Integrated Production MullenLowe U.S.
Liz Silver CEO/Executive Producer Believe Media
Matt Steinwald SVP/ECD ENGINE
Danielle Tarris Head of Production CPB
Hughes William Thompson Founder/Director PANOPTICA
Andrew Watts Partner/Executive Creative Director Watts Media
Todd Wiseman Jr Co-Founder/Creative Director Hayden5


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