Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018 Mid Year Report Card - Craig Allen

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?

Craig Allen
Head of Integrated Production
Venables Bell + Partners

1) 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.

2) I’ve been moved by various long-form videos that do a remarkable job of combining film craft with emotional storytelling, like The Red Cross spot “Hope,” P&G’s “Love Over Bias” and “The Talk,” which all deliver valuable messages. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve enjoyed spots that are entertaining due to their sense of humor, like “It’s a Tide Ad,” or the exceptional technique of Dougal Wilson’s or Spike Jonze’s Apple spots. I was also extremely impressed with the level of production design and effects work in recent Adidas creative.

3) In today’s political and social climate, and with midterm elections approaching, I think many clients will proceed with increasing caution with their marketing and advertising spends. Also, there will be continued pressure to not only have an active voice in culture but to also take actions that instill positive change and resonate with consumers in meaningful ways.

4) Brand messaging that makes a social statement or inspires positive change is one direction of work that’s rising to the top at recent awards shows. More “conventional” ads that employ outstanding creativity, innovation and craft will certainly continue to be honored too, but the bar is being raised with work that’s doing it all.

5) We are constantly searching out state of the art technology and upgrading the capabilities of our in-house post-production division, Lumberyard. We’ve upgraded our messaging and conferencing systems to an integrated collaboration platform with best in class, end-to-end 256bit encryption. Additionally, we’ve recently upgraded to a next generation firewall that supports 10Gb/s internet connections allowing us to move more data faster to our clients and vendors when needed.

6) Diversity, inclusivity and equal representation are hugely important to us, and we’re doing a number of things to ensure we’re always getting stronger in these areas as an agency, from developing training programs, community outreach initiatives and partnerships with organizations like MAIP to bring new talent into the industry and developing a returnship program to reintegrate women that have taken time off to raise children. Additionally, we’re actively implementing a pledge that ½ of all of the vendors that we use (including those that offer office supplies, food, etc.) are minority or women-owned businesses.

In the production realm, specifically, we applaud organizations like Streetlights Production Assistant Program, whose mission is to create careers for poverty level and socially disadvantaged minorities, while promoting ethnic diversity in the entertainment industry workforce. Additionally, we’re looking to work and partner with production companies that integrate their services.

In terms of mentoring, one of our philosophies is to challenge our employees to work outside their comfort zones, which at times translates into working on projects beyond their experience level. This provides an opportunity for our employees to elevate their skills and confidence while knowing they have a support system along the way.

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