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From Halftime To Prime Time, TheBridge.Co - The Masters of Mixing Music & Brands - Sets Its Sights Higher
- Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020
The creative and production collective is lining up its next opportunities to harness the power of music and social media for brand engagement.
Quick, who won Super Bowl LIV? If it took you a moment to remember who played – much less who won – it certainly won't take you long to remember who performed at Halftime: it was J. Lo and Shakira who split the uprights during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and generated more buzz, chatter, opinions, and engagement than you could squeeze into the Hard Rock Stadium.
This reality is not lost on Mike Jurkovac, Igor Kovalik and Bill Boyd, the Founders and Partners at TheBridge.Co (www.thebridge.co), the New York, LA and London-based production and content company. More than two years ago, they that took the pervasive sizzle and broad demographic appeal of the Super Bowl’s Halftime Show and transformed it into a weekly, prime-time extravaganza for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and the luxury automotive brand Genesis.
Launched in time for the 2018 season and running through the midpoint of the 2019 season, the MNF Halftime Show featured standalone performances by an eclectic, genre-busting roster of musical artists, all with ties to the home city for each broadcast. The events helped drive awareness and social media engagement around the Korean nameplate to unheard-of levels since it was first introduced in the US, dramatically increasing dealer inquiries and web site traffic with each airing – and, as an added bonus, the Halftime shows propelled four of the first seven featured artists into the number 1 position on the charts the very next day.
Now in 2020, TheBridge.Co and its team of directors, producers, and strategists are busy setting in motion a series of projects that promise to deliver even more impressive metrics and monetization for its partners on the agency, client, and media side.
Genesis isn’t the only category-defying brand integration that bore the distinctive stamp of TheBridge.Co. Last year they partnered with Condé Nast and The Related Companies to launch the first-ever “Fashion Show x Auto Show” for the Mint, the Genesis EV concept car, which was unveiled at The Vessel, the hottest destination in New York, right in the center of Hudson Yards.
For Hearst, TheBridge.Co tapped its deep connections in the fashion and music industry to provide content for its high-profile, highly-attended Harper’s BAZAAR “ICONS” by Carine Roitfeld event, held during New York Fashion Week. A documentary of the event, directed and edited by Kovalik and streamed on the Genesis social media channels, featured a performance by Christina Aguilera and an After Party DJ’d by Questlove of The Roots.
Much of TheBridge.Co work has been directed by Jurkovac or Kovalik, with other noted talents brought into the mix. The company often tag teams on projects, with various members (and guest artists) trading off different roles, much like a jazz sextet playing a late-night gig at the Vanguard. While their work defies any stylistic pigeonhole, it always represents visual storytelling that’s beautifully shot, framed, paced, and lit. Not a surprise, since Jurkovac spent ten years producing for the legendary still photographer and director Albert Watson before he stepped behind the lens himself, and Kovalik is an award-winning editor (and co-founder of Beast) who also directs.
More than just a production company, TheBridge.Co has been helping agencies and brands connect with artists via proprietary content, experiential events and strategic brand extensions since its founding in 2012. It’s a collective of directors, producers, writers, editors, image-makers and new media specialists with extensive experience in strategy, media, technology, storytelling and business development. Together, they do more than conceive of and produce high-level, prestigious projects for brands; they put the deals together behind the scenes to make them all come together.
Just ask Manfred Fitzgerald, the former Global Brand Chief of Genesis, who partnered with TheBridge.Co, along with the Genesis agency INNOCEAN, on a number of ambitious integrated projects. “The Monday Night Football Halftime Show would have never happened without Mike and TheBridge.Co,” he remarks. “Mike is able to connect the dots of complex projects like this in ways most people wouldn’t even have thought of. The role he and his company played in bringing good people together to work on Genesis was essential to our success.”
“The packaging of talent and the bundling of deliverables is a key to what we do, and it’s been that way since day one,” says Jurkovac. “It’s all about real integration and the ability to overdeliver. If an agency or a brand is talking about a TV campaign, we can give them the commercials, along with social content, a BTS mini-documentary, a print and out-of-home campaign, everything.”
“We’re a problem-solving collective; that’s when we’re at our best,” adds Executive Producer Ernest Lupinacci, whose creative and strategic insights were behind the original MNF Halftime concept. “We’ve been hired not just as the production company on some assignments, but also to handle talent negotiations, deal structures, artist relations, music, edit, right through to finish and delivery.”
In many instances, TheBridge.Co taps its network of collaborators to provide a level of creative and strategic thinking that complements their ability to literally bridge industries, categories, disciplines, and media channels. “My relationship with Mike revolves around partnership and collaboration,” says Joe Sciarrotta, Deputy Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Worldwide. “We talk about brand and business problems together, and Mike is honest about what he can deliver. I don’t think there’s anyone who can do what he does. Pulling off the MNF Halftime Shows was like pulling a 300-pound rabbit out of a hat every single week of the season.”
Its strength in tackling highly complex projects is just part of TheBridge.Co’s appeal, Sciarrotta adds. “They’re not looking at the past over there, they’re looking at new ways of working and new kinds of relationships,” he observes. “Today, to be effective, you need to have the right kinds of partners, and that’s what TheBridge.Co represents for me. I value their contributions and I value their talent.”
TheBridge.Co’s ability to straddle traditional ad genres as well as the worlds of pop music tie-ins, sponsorships, social content and live events, has been proven repeatedly – whether that’s working with artists like Gwen Stefani and Andra Day and their teams to stage a live concert in Seoul attended by over 20,000 VIPs, or connecting Justin Timberlake’s band, the Tennessee Kids, with the Ram Trucks brand to generate over 20 million online views almost overnight.
Chuck McBride, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the San Francisco independent agency Cutwater, has worked with Jurkovac for years, going back to their days at TBWA\Chiat\Day on Levi’s, and he sees it this way: “Mike brings an altogether different level of resourcefulness and resources to whatever he does.”
McBride sees Jurkovac operating more like a music producer than a film producer, which has a multitude of benefits. “He’s always saying, ‘Hey, we can get this guy or that guy,’ and it’s like the music hustle – who can you get into the studio with you? What happens is that your project organically grows, and you end up building content around all these pieces, yet it’s still part of the same idea and the same strategy. It’s looking at cross-pollination in a totally different way.”
As the company maps out its planning for the coming year, its digital media arm, VAST, is busy putting into place a series of high-profile projects linked to its work for a variety of brands and agencies. Years in development, VAST is a propriety BrandTech platform that has to date delivered over 4.2 billion audited media impressions for its advertisers, media partners and buying agencies.
One of a number of properties under TheBridge.Co banner set to roll out this year, VAST represents yet another way this quiet company is re-writing the rules of just what a production company could and should be producing.