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?
I’ve been asking myself whether comedy is here to stay. It made a huge surge last year (see Super Bowl) but will it last given it’s an election year? I think so, because people need that escape. That’s what comedy-focused spots do well - they take you to another place and make you laugh. Brands that are bold will win with comedy as they’ll break through the more conservative work come September. Beyond that, who knows?
Also, we’ve seen AR and VR for a while but I’m still not sold on whatever the metaverse is and neither are most people. To me, the next evolutionary step in tech is mixed reality (AR on ‘roids). It takes the fun and functional bits of VR but applies them to the real world. I see a much bigger investment in that.
Another big trend I’m seeing is the expansion of ads on streaming platforms. There will be huge opportunities to create interesting content beyond a traditional TV spot. I’m excited for the potential creativity, especially when you can partner with that one platform or show (see Netflix’s Stranger Things).
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 mean, it’s impacted everyone and everything, but we’re taking tangible steps when it comes to tackling the industry-wide conundrum: how do you find the best talent but also meet diversity/inclusion goals? We’ve decided that we need to look harder. That means not just going to the same talent pools we’ve all been pulling from, but searching outside the ad/art schools we know and love. Taking more chances on people who don’t come from traditional institutions. Empowering and mentoring interns. What’s great about a small agency like Erich and Kallman is that we can invest in that in a much more meaningful way. And out of that we hope to have an agency that is a truer representation of our national makeup. When it comes to projects, we’re always looking at productions with an eye to new and diverse voices. That means having screenings showcasing directors of color, building relationships with companies that are led by women and/or people of color, and most importantly, making it a priority for our clients as well.
What’s the biggest takeaway or lessons learned from work (please identify the project) you were involved in this year?
Even though I’m fairly new to Erich and Kallman, the biggest takeaway I’ve found is that our clients are as ambitious as we are. When they have a high level of taste and a penchant for well-crafted stories, the groundwork is laid for amazing creativity. We found that in Great Wolf Lodge as we developed the “Strengthen The Pack” work. It’s refreshing to have clients that want to create a big cinematic body of work and are willing to go with us on that epic journey. It was a big proving ground for our collective ambition, I mean we’ve got families riding oversized wolves! Rarely do you find that in a client and I consider it a testament to how we work as an agency.
What work (advertising, entertainment, documentary) -- your own or others--struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?
I’m going to answer this one outside of my industry and go with an amazing film by The Daniels called Everything Everywhere All At Once. Even though it’s billed as a sci-fi romp, it’s really a movie about family. There’s no other movie out there that captures what we’re all feeling today. I’m not going to spoil the plot, but it’s original, confounding and ridiculous in the best way; it reinvigorated my spirit as a creative. Haven’t seen anything like it.
While gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to content creation and/or the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2022 and beyond.
We know that clients are tightening their budgets given the economy. That can scare a lot of us but I like to think of it as a challenge. How do we create more amazing work but with a fraction of the old budget? We’ve got to change our understanding of what being “creative” means in 2022. Is it the format? The platform? The story itself? We’re going to see a lot of new ideas come on to the scene, new ways to think, new stories to tell, and new places to tell them. We’ll get resourceful like we always do, but agencies also want creative partners that are just as nimble as they are, ones that can pivot quickly as we do. That’s where I see a lot smaller, independent production companies winning out.
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)?
Despite everything happening in the world, we’ve managed to weather it quite well. In fact, this first half has served us well in terms of launching new campaigns like “Strengthen The Pack” for Great Wolf Lodge, “Situation Roomb” for iRobot, and “Faster Than You Think” for Take 5 Oil Change. The creative bets we’ve made earlier this year (and last) are finally paying off and our creative ambition is becoming stronger. We want to make work that people not only remember but also love. And that’s happening. If there’s any fine tuning, it’s really sticking to that philosophy and holding everyone to it.