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?

Hilary Coate
Head of Integrated Production
Venables Bell & Partners

1) This year, we’ve seen the continued rise of AI, which is affecting the way in which brands communicate and advertise. Given it analyzes data and targets consumers in real-time, this streamlined approach not only optimizes brands’ ad spend, but also creates ads specifically targeting and speaking to individual consumer’s needs.  The opportunities with AI are huge, and have many people wondering whether it will replace real human creativity and connections. We believe the brands that do both well--harness technology while also infusing real humanity in their communications--will ultimately win ahead. 

2) As an independent shop, we have the benefit of constantly evolving our services to best meet our clients’ changing needs. Additionally, we’re able to invest in industry and cultural initiatives that really matter to us. In addition to pledging to Free the Bid/Work this year, we also recently launched Fellow, an app-based professional community for women in advertising. The idea was conceived by our Senior Art Director, Aisha Hakim, and former colleague, Christoph von Ruexleben, and was designed to facilitate mentorship connections amongst women across the industry – not merely within an individual agency’s walls. Fellow offers a safe place for women to discuss key issues such as navigating maternity leave, asking for salary increases and breaking the glass ceiling. VB&P fully funded the development of Fellow, as we see it as an exciting tool in helping women in advertising unlock their full potential.

3) I’m most proud of the work we did for Reebok this year. Our clients challenged us to come up with a creative concept that combines fashion and sport, which strayed from their traditionally fitness-focused marketing, and appealed to a younger audience. The integrated campaign, called “Sport the Unexpected,” embraced the idea of being different, and launched with a film called Storm the Court, which went on to earn numerous accolades, including Silver and Bronze Lions at Cannes. Two additional films followed in the campaign, including one which memorably featured Cardi B and her epic nails. I’m very proud of how our team came together to complete this complex production within a tight timeline, and the final work which redefined the brand, and drove amazing results for Reebok. 

4) This year, Generation Z will become the largest single population in the world. Research shows that this group watches an average of almost 70 videos each day. With the surge of apps like TikTok, Gen Z’ers have the opportunity to create their own content. Clients realize that their brands need to be entertaining, but have also come to understand the importance of creatively engaging these consumers in the process too. I’m seeing our clients placing greater emphasis on experiential marketing and activations in their plans because they understand that memorable experiences help forge emotional connections with their brands. Though they also recognize that this must be balanced with thoughtful integrated communications which make the most of these connections and relationships over time.

5) In this oversaturated market of endless communications channels, consumers are craving authenticity from brands, and meaningful connections that evoke emotional responses. AR will continue to be a big opportunity for brands given it enables people to interact with content rather than simply viewing it. This type of engagement with the work and brand has great potential to turn passive viewers into active participants – and ultimately, when used effectively, the potential to forge tighter bonds between audiences and the brands vying for their attention. 

6) Not a resolution per se, though in 2020, we’ll look to continue to partner with like-minded clients and brands that we believe in, and with whom we can make a real impact on their business and in culture. We’ll also continue to look for opportunities to use our creativity for good in the world, and beyond branded work. And ultimately, be a place where our team enjoys working each day, and can stretch and grow both personally and professionally.

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