How did your agency adjust/adapt to the marketplace in 2021 (new strategies, resources, technology, health/safety expertise) and what is the most relevant business and/or creative lesson you learned in 2021 and how will you apply it to 2022?
Our biggest lesson of 2021 was learning just how vital collaboration is for creativity and innovation. Every action we took was an effort to foster more connection via digital tools that improved remote work, remote shoots, and brainstorms. We knew we needed to keep people safe, but we also know the best ideas—or the best shots—happen when you remain open and flexible to different perspectives. People don’t learn or grow in isolation, so retaining creative talent meant finding ways to connect people to a path for growth.
Our shoots were small and nimble this past year with many people zooming into the shoot or voice-over sessions. Upfront collaboration was key to making sure all voices were heard. We honored real stories, in the voices of real people, and allowed more time for review by everyone involved to make sure we got it right.
With circumstances ever-changing, we needed to be flexible, as well. Gone are the days when you can be overly precious about your creative projects. We are much more renegade and adaptive now, which tends to yield more honest and authentic results. Perfection stifles possibilities, and our approach continues to lean more into the possible versus the limited.
How are the events of 2021--from the pandemic to the call for diversity, equity and inclusion--impacting the content you create and/or the way you work?
Our agency and our clients are fully committed to amplifying diverse voices in our content and campaigns. This is reflected not only in the talent in front of the camera, but the talent behind the camera, as well. We’ve moved from crafting stories to letting real stories unfold. The pandemic has affected people in different ways—there isn’t one story to tell, there are many, and we’ve strived to inspire with different people, places, and perspectives that may have been overlooked.
Some of our clients are travel brands, which were heavily impacted by the pandemic. We knew that international travel was on hold for many people, so we leaned into domestic discovery and ways people could connect to different cultures right here in the United States. It was a way to celebrate diversity locally and champion people’s passions. We featured small businesses and shared ways people could support people in their own communities or in the communities they may visit.
We wanted our productions to support communities, tell real stories, and feature people who are making a positive impact.
What are your goals or New Year’s resolution, creatively speaking or from a business standpoint, for your agency or department in 2022?
Our New Year’s goal is to retain and collaborate with diverse and imaginative creative talent and make campaigns that have a positive impact. This is always our goal, but the pandemic—and mass resignations—have made it clear that who you work with is extremely important and we strive to be a team that appreciates our people and values everyone’s voice. We know that representation matters, but even more, people need to feel welcomed and supported. That matters more than ever right now—from mental health to a clear path for growth, we can’t create great work if people aren’t thriving.
Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you envision for the advertising and/or entertainment industry--creatively speaking or from a business standpoint--in 2022?
My hope for the future of advertising is a true reckoning with the ways we impact culture. The brands that will succeed are the ones that foster community and look for ways to give back and support both their customers and their internal teams. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, some more than others, and people are craving real, human connection now more than ever. Empathy in all facets of interaction will be extremely important. We need to drive hope and foster real relationships. Things like travel will no longer be taken for granted—or skipped altogether. There is an immediacy where we will want to live and experience life, not just for “the gram” but for our own wellbeing.
Tell us about one current commercial or branded entertainment project you are working on for early 2022.
We’ve had an ongoing, series in partnership with Insider, called “Travel Dares,” which has taken us all over the world, and more recently, uncovered hidden gems at home. This series challenges viewers to get off the beaten path and discover cultures, cuisines, and daring activities to get people out of their comfort zones and immersed in a visceral experience. Our latest “Season US” reveals a unique road trip through the United States that supports artisans and small businesses along the way. Our production footprint has been small, and many schedules had to shift, due to COVID, but we’ve created something really inspiring that gives back to the communities we feature.