1) What trends, developments or issues would you point to so far in 2016 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

2) What work (advertising or entertainment)—your own or others’—has struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?

3) What work (advertising or entertainment)—your own or others’—has struck you as being the most effective strategically and/or creatively in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?

4) Though gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2016 and beyond.

5) What do recent honors on the awards show circuit (Cannes Lions, AICP Show/AICP Next Awards, AICE winners or Emmy nominations spanning comedy, drama, documentary, etc.) tell us in terms of creative and/or strategic themes and trends in the industry at large?

6) What new technology, equipment or software will you be investing in later this year or next year for your company or for yourself personally, and why? Or, tell us about what new technology investment you’ve made this year and why it was a good decision—or not?

Matt Bijarchi

1) Quality video content and increased brand “experience” engagement.
Marketing clients continue to increase spending on video content for mobile, social and digital consumption. With that increased spend comes a corresponding desire for increasing the quality and production value. While mobile content will never have the production values or budgets of TV work, it is a worthy investment as brands look to differentiate themselves from the plethora of content out there.

2) Pokemon Go. We’ve been living with augmented reality for quite some time, but until now, no one had really successfully blended AR with a physical experience. Niantic did an amazing job integrating the physical and mobile experience. The possibilities here are endless and more exciting to me than even Virtual Reality. We’ve already read that McDonald’s has begun a partnership and that small retailers nationwide have seen an uptick in sales if they’re lucky enough to be in the Pokemon path.

3) Increasingly, brands are realizing that they are really publishers themselves. They have a built-in audience and that audience has a nearly insatiable taste for content. The best way to service that consumer desire is to publish. Take for instance what Dollar Shave Club did with MEL. They created their own online magazine/blog and filled it with interesting content that their consumers yearn for. They essentially had already cracked the code with video content and they’ve now taken it one step further and became their own publisher. Very smart.

4) I think we’re going to see some interesting developments with Facebook Live. If you look at the incredible success of the Chewbacca Mom FB live content—and the significant corresponding lift in sales it gave Kohl’s—it’s hard to imagine it not being a channel that marketers and their agency partners invest in heavily.

5) “The Field Trip to Mars” by McCann for Lockheed Martin. This was an amazing feat. They took VR and combined it with a truly original physical experience, allowing school children to “experience Mars while taking a ride on a school bus. They successfully blended VR with physical experience and left everyone amazed. They deserve every award they’ve garnered—and they won a lot (19 at Cannes alone in 11 different categories). It was fully integrated and completely original.

6) We’ve invested in our own bespoke Content Management System at Blend. I think a lot of brand studios, production companies and agencies are doing or will do the same. So much of the work we do on video production or web or mobile development can be automated, increasing efficiencies in the long run and allowing us to focus more time on creativity and brand messaging.

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