What trends, developments or issues would you point to thus far in 2022 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of this year and beyond?
One big trend is that “hacking” is a conscious effort for every project now. To stand out in our industry, it’s not enough to make beautiful films anymore. I’m exaggerating a bit, but the work that adds that extra layer of “how’d they get away with that” or “that took some guts to do” is the stuff that gets the most buzz. Spots become brand actions and not just commercials anymore. Thanks to actions like Coinbase’s SB spot, hacking is an ask in every client brief.
How have any societal issues--such as the pandemic, the Supreme court decision on abortion, calls for equity, inclusion, diversity, racial and social justice--impacted the way you do business, company policies and/or selection of projects/creative content?
I think we have to be more thorough than ever in vetting our ideas. Gone are the days where we shoot from the hip with ideas and then run with them. (Kudos to you if you have enough of an up-to-date sensitivity filter where you can.) For most of us, it calls for sharing ideas more, not just with our usual inner circle but with others. I’m definitely sharing more with Business Affairs and different ERGs (like our Asiancy or Blagency groups) to make sure I’m not leaning into clichés or representing anyone negatively. Also, to ensure that diversity is present in a way that doesn’t feel too forced. At first, you can feel a little gun shy in the idea process, but once you implement sharing more and more, it becomes a little more natural. After all, the agency is a safe space to think and be schooled respectfully.
What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in this year?
One key takeaway in recent months is that comedy is hard - and developing comedy that resonates with a general, mass audience is even tougher. Maybe that’s because someone typically has to be the butt of the joke, and someone has to be slightly offended for a laugh. While in today’s culture, marketers need to be more sensitive and careful than ever for fear of being irrelevant or canceled. As a result, it’s challenging to concept things with a humorous tone. We must ask ourselves whether certain references, terms, images, etc., might be offensive to certain people and avoid potential landmines along the way. Ultimately, it’s clear that comedy is reinventing itself, and there will be a lot of swings and misses in the development process.
Has the first half of 2022 caused you to redefine or fine tune the goals of your company, division, studio or network--and if so, in what way(s)?
Now that we’re all comfortable working remotely and collaborating online, it’s no longer a barrier to getting something done. Interestingly, this setup has given the impression that we can be faster and more efficient in our process and somehow prompted many clients to shorten timelines and put more pressure on agencies to develop big, comprehensive ideas faster. On top of this, we’re presenting significant efforts and ideas on shared screens with faces as big as thumbnails, making individuals and their ideas much more dismissible.
With these dynamics in play, my team and I are especially focused on managing expectations these days. We’re putting much more emphasis on the timeline of projects. A reasonable timeline ensures that we can deliver not only on our goals but the clients’ goals. That’s something both sides need to understand and hold hands on. With outside pressures constantly shifting in marketing today, we must keep reteaching the principle of time as it’s so key to getting to the best, most effective work