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?

Ned Crowley
Chief Creative Officer, U.S.

1) Technology is king. Pairing creativity with tech and data seems to be where the business has moved and is moving right now. Clients and agencies are also pushing to get out into the world and live the brand. We are doing this across all our brands now. A combination of traditional air cover is still needed for many brands. Even with TV, which, contrary to popular opinion, is not dead.

2) We had two things going on this year for Oscar Mayer that straddle the line between marketing and entertainment. One was “Bacoin”. We created an actual crypto currency that was backed by bacon. It was a “joke” for entertainment but did very well for the brand and thousands of people actually rode the market.

Another effort that got a lot of attention was the “Weiner Drone.” Oscar Mayer changed all their hot dogs by removing all the nitrates and such. It was a big deal for the brand and they went on a mission to “get a hot dog in every hand.” We took the idea to a whole other level, and even built new vehicles to get the dogs out to the world. Scooters. Minis, and the Drone. Jimmy Fallon even picked it up, as did many other entertainment outlets. The is a great example of entertainment with a smart marketing purpose. Not just for the sake of entertainment.

3) The content that clients will push out will continue to improve in quality while the TV market declines.

Brand actions in the world will only continue to rise. The biggest thing we will continue to see is from big behemoth companies who realize they cannot continue to compete in a world without a POV. They need to make their purpose clear and put a huge social engagement behind it. The new consumer demands it or they will leave.

It’s what we have been preaching to clients for years. “If you know what you believe you know how to behave.” You’d be surprised at how many clients don’t know what they believe.

4) They tell us that the era of doing “commercials” is over. Sure. There is still attention on craft but it has all mostly moved to brands doing things in the world in the name of their brand. A lot of it is work that leads to a connecting with a social cause. If a brand is just out there trying to creatively market, and not tied to a social cause, they can be overlooked.

Brand actions and creativity paired with new tech and media is where the trend is heading.

5) We’re looking into building and acquiring more content production. Studios. Creators. Social listening systems. The works.

6) We are wrestling with that. It’s one thing to sign pledges and make speeches. I’m seeing a lot of that. But it’s another thing to implement change in your company. We’re doing that as we speak. We are a very female led agency with about 67% of our workforce being female. Two of our U.S. presidents are female, our CSO and US CSO in NY and SF are female, and top strategic leadership in Chicago is also female. We still need to work on better female leadership in creative but we are getting closer to the right balance.

On the director and production side we are well above the industry average which is about 11%. Last year about 30% of our jobs were produced by women. Let alone just “Bid.” We will continue that push.

A huge push for us is also ethnic diversity. We need to do better searching for and attracting people of all color, especially African American.

But we feel very strongly about doing what’s right for our company and culture. Not just doing what’s popular in the Industry.

We made a decision to just do it and not just talk about it.

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