1) What industry trends or developments were most significant in 2019? 

2) How did your agency or department adjust/adapt to the marketplace in 2019? (diversification, new resources/talent/technology, new strategies, etc.) You are welcome to cite a specific piece of work which shows how lessons learned in 2019 were applied.

3) What work in 2019 are you most proud of? (Please cite any unique challenges encountered)

4) As the lines between advertising and entertainment continue to blur, are clients asking you to produce more “entertainment”? Please cite an example from this year and/or tell us about a project you’re working on for 2020. 

5) Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you envision for the industry--creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint--in 2020? 

6) What’s your New Year’s resolution, creatively speaking and/or from a business standpoint, for your agency or department? Do you have a personal New Year’s resolution that you can share?

David Rolfe
EVP/Director of Integrated Production
BBDO New York

1) It’s fascinating to watch the blending of iconic and mass-movement advertising, as connected to some mobilizing force or cause—think the marketing-side adoption of Colin Kaepernick—creating enviably scaled experience, along with the everyday-any-moment personalized micro-experience—think the designer-but-discounted (and hopefully enviable!) duvet cover I just purchased on IG—and how the micro and macro co-exist. With possibly less in the middle?

2) We know that we’re capable of, and deserve to be called upon to, solve business problems with experience over comms. For us, collaborating with St.Jude’s and Facebook in the creation of the “Hall of Heroes” experience, with VR at its core but broadening to a plethora of experiences-- for the young patients and their families, for the bold journey of embattling cancer and for those that want to learn of the values at St. Jude’s. With “Heroes” we extend directly from product experience.

3) We’ve had a handful of great outputs this year, in my immodest book, but one that resonates a lot is our breakthrough work with Thinx, with the spot  “MENstruation.” The spot is breakthrough much because it could never be as breakthrough for them as their product and cultural refiguring itself. I think we responded to the task beautifully, with a provocative piece directed by Rachel MacDonald of Biscuit. It upends the taboo of menstruation, by showing us-- humorously, naturally and tenderly-- the world as “what if we all had periods.” It naturally depicts extremity, but then lands us questioning how such a norm is viewed as abnormal. Go Thinx.

4) We might as well earn the attention we get. Though I see “entertainment” as just another form of utility. Thus I do believe brand’s must and will continue to purpose entertainment as a form of its expression, if not product itself. Watch how Netflix and Amazon continue to weave data-strategy into their creation (Netflix, in property dev) or distributional process (Amazon, in proximity to product), and I think there’s huge opportunity for brand-hosted entertainment. I think data-strategy that seemingly results in small-bit stuff could just as well feed into high production-value entertainment.

5) My crystal ball broke when I didn’t see the video revolution coming in 2012 or whenever, so I gave it to my son and he uses it for in-house (literal) baseball. But if I had to dive back in I’d say that as marketers become more independently capable (they will), they will still best flourish in the smart use of dependency. We’re heading in to a very new collaborational phase, with our clients and our partners.

6) If I had to candidly express my next year’s resolution, I’d say that I’d like us to continue to be as creatively great, and groundbreaking as we are, at BBDO—and I’d like us to be expansively so, by volume of greatness—through the pursuit of curation, alongside origination. I want us to flex the remarkable muscle of scale, and further curate in-the-world things and moreover causes, partners, client culture, everyday as well as world’s-best creators, while we also draw upon our own imagination and pursuit of breakthrough origination. Then I want to slam it all together, and attract tons of clients. Done, next question!

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