December 17, 2008
I started this new blog site so that I would be able to speak directly to a very special group of people.
The Interactive Producer is what I consider a new breed of media producer.
A hybrid of many talents.
Today's Interactive Producer is a maniacal cross between between Don Draper, Malcolm Gladwell, David Ogilvy, Sigmund Freud, Douglas Merrill, Adam Sandler and Mel Brooks.
In the film industry the producer is usually an executive of the studio often overseeing the financial, administrative and creative aspects of the production, though not technical aspects.
The role of Producer in the interactive industry is a true convergence of the creative and technical worlds, just like the industry itself is a convergence of so many different medias.
Many people confuse the role of Project Manager with Producer.
I will set the record straight right now, Producers are NOT project managers.
So what is an Interactive Producer?
The producer is the spark, he or she initiates, co-ordinates, supervises and manages schedules, budgets, hiring talent and overseeing deployment and PR. The producer is involved in all phases of the interactive process from idea, to design to development and on to completion of a project.
Being a Interactive Producer requires so much more understanding of so many different things.
The industry as a whole has witnessed the accelerated evolution of its talent. In less than ten years the one dimensional designer who lived in Photoshop now is required to have skills in Flash, 3D applications, some coding and video skills as well.
Legendary creative directors now wake up in a cold sweat just knowing that kids are coming out of school with a mastery of a number of disciplines that they themselves would never be able to catch up to.
The torch is definitely being passed in all realms of our industry.
The role of Interactive Producer has taken on its own evolution. It is being a business development specialist, a project manager, a team leader, clergy, friend, advocate, evangelist and mentor.
The voice of reason within the chaotic tumultuous and emotional process of hyper-creativity.
Someone who can weather the storm of a highly creative, super technical, below budgeted, ridiculously dead-lined, fast paced, ever changing, always evolving, super charged, late night... OK, I need not go on because if you are one of these people you already know what the hell I am talking about.
So on that note I will say welcome and thanks for joining me in this new endeavor, I hope to be a good resource and sounding board for our kind. I promise to keep each post relevant and insightful and I hope to make this blog as meaningful and insightful as I possibly can.
Check it out here <---
December 16, 2008
There is a custom that defies tradition, location, culture or religion.
It binds us as intelligent beings.
A custom that is not only a unifying thread but one that seems to be deeply ingrained in each and every one of us.
A custom that is totally instinctual, it permeates our character like the very cells that make up our physical bodies. Like migrant birds we naturally think of change every time our calendars reset.
This custom is a component of our primitive aptitude for survival and has been refined over many generations as our society has become more exacting and complex.
It is an impulse, a predisposed tendency that starts to ferment around the holiday season and it finally reaches its anaerobic conversion by New Years.
No matter what calendar you follow, be it the simplest of lunar positions or the most complex distinct interlocking Mayan calendric systems, you still have a start and an end to every year.
As we all take a huge collective deep breath and start our decline out of what seemed like a very long and tumultuous 2008 and head into the incline of what is a hopeful 2009 we should all tap into this custom and think about how we can all make the new year one of positive change.
The economy has always been a great catalyst for change. From the times of the famines of the bible to the Great Depression, the economy has always been a reliable agent of change regardless of how it swings.
In 2008 we were stung with some harsh realities about our perceived notions of social, political, environmental and economic sustainability and their ability to weather even the most bizarre of adversities.
It was the year that the threshold had finally given in, the world was thrown into economic uncertainty.
Politics and economics were the reality show of the year and history was made while the world watched it unfold, online.
One by one the largest financial institutions fell, the auto industry crashed and the curtain was called on the political stage. The rich were getting bailed out by the poor and the playing field was once again leveled for emerging ideas to take root.
Every single move was documented on the web by literally thousands of websites following every angle of the climate changes that took place in 2008.
In 2008 the combination of the environment, politics and the economy all played a huge role in how the web is now perceived and ultimately was more embraced as the preeminent platform in today's social and business worlds.
History is a rerun and you learn something new every time you watch.
The Great Depression was a time that can offer us some unique insight into the power of brand advertising during times of economic crisis. It represents the plowing of the field where the soil is turned for new seeds to grow.
Our own recent history has proven that during times of economic uncertainty, brands that maintain creativity and innovation in advertising during these hard times actually help to maintain the morale of the nation and come out even stronger on the upswing due to "hangin in there" and sticking with their consumers through good times and bad.
What I find personally fascinating is that the very nature of this kind of dedicated and innovative advertising during the Great Depression actually accelerated the growth of radio broadcasting and print media, today we are seeing a similar effect where the web has now been thrust into the spotlight and is the new field of advertising innovation.
The impact of the economy on our industry is more relevant than ever and we are seeing the absolute accelerated shift of both advertising and entertainment making their primary homes online.
Its difficult for me to look at things in such a negative light when so much good is coming out of these hard times. There is a concept in mysticism where the current good must be destroyed in order for a better new good to emerge.
2009 is going to be the year of that emergence.
So for 2009 my own personal business resolutions are to keep evangelizing our wonderful medium, to help educate and inform our clients as to how to best understand and use the medium to its fullest potential.
To help brands understand the value of a smaller agency that will think digitally and provide more bang for the already tight buck. To continue to help to bring innovative ideas and to push the limits of the web.
To help build better relationships and help to establish our industry as a cohesive unit and a powerful social voice that is more intelligent, responsive and community driven.
To be part of something big and help contribute to that on my own small level.
My main resolution for 2009 is to really embrace and appreciate the times I live in and acknowledge the fact that I am lucky to be a contributor to an industry that is emerging as the global social media platform.
In the words of my favorite writer Henry Miller,
“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”
Happy New Year!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARIAN GROUP!
You guys are the leaders of the pack and a true example of success. Our industry is so convoluted in terms of proper definition and roles but you guys embody what this industry is all about.
The perfect hybrid between ad agency and digital shop, creative genius and technological minds, social visionaries and digital dynamos!
TBG is all of that and then some.
TBG has redefined what advertising is all about. You have helped reshape communications for the new digital age and has helped all of us achieve what we all are so passionate about.
A Barbarian is a pejorative term for an uncivilized person, either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage.
In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.
Take all of those attributes and focus them towards the absolute positive and passion for everything digital and what your left with is the ideal "noble savage" for the industry.
What better way to celebrate than to be named Creativity's Digital Company of The Year!
December 12, 2008
Digital production shops Big Spaceship and Firstborn unveiled some healthy competitive spirit today with a very funny takeover of the Big Spaceship site by Firstborn.
The two shops engaged in some foosball, basketball and ping pong to celebrate the holiday cheer that is permeating the air.
Putting design and development prowess aside they competed in some physical competition that gave Firstborn the bragging rights to the phrase "We Sank The Ship".
The result is a rather hilarious depiction of the top dawgs at Big Spaceship in caricature shooting out some comic lines that I thought was pretty funny.
Its nice to see some inter-industry camaraderie amongst competing shops to liven things up a bit. Healthy competition creates a good feeling all around.
December 11, 2008
Change is the moniker of our generation. We no longer classify our times with the single letter X or Y.
We have grown past the one dimensional descriptions that limits us to a single marketing demographic.
We are now about change. Change is good. Change is a modification, an adjustment and in some cases even a revolution.
Today, one of the the oldest ad agencies still lingering, a throwback to the days of scotch and cigarettes, JWT (founded in 1864), has made an announcement.
Typically when ad agencies make an announcement its heard "round the world" because ad agencies are designed to be the loudest voice in the room.
Its what they do, they advertise. So when a directorship position is announced, especially one that oversees a world wide operation, its pretty big news.
These announcements are typically saved for creative directors or the traditional roles that have made up ad agencies since that founding year of 1864.
However today marks a notch in the belt of a new age. It signifies the recognition of the tectonic shift that has been taking place in the ad industry over the last few years and it has also signified the rapid change that is taking place everywhere.
The Digital Revolution.
Joe Mandese over at Online Media Daily writes:
"With the pomp and circumstance that it might have announced a new creative director in days of old, one of Madison Avenue's best known full-service ad agencies, WPP Group's JWT, this morning announced that David Eastman has been named its worldwide digital director, responsible for the strategic oversight and management of digital advertising campaigns within the agency, and all its subsidiary companies. "
This paragraph so succinctly states that what "was", now isn't, and what "is", is.
The words World Wide Digital Director reads like music to my ears.
Its a recognition that digital has fully arrived and is here to stay.
That the digital revolution has overcome the traditional resistance and assisted by a faltering economy and the rapid advancement of technology, is becoming the main cog in the advertising and entertainment machine.
Upon anointing this new royal appointment, Sir Martin was quoted, saying:
"I think there is a little bit of a misunderstanding over our digital businesses," Sorrell told analysts, investors and journalists attending UBS' Media Week conference in New York this week. He said that digital marketing services now account for about $2.8 billion of WPP's revenues, or about "23% of group revenues," and said that WPP currently is about "three times the size" of its next closest agency competitor - Publicis - in terms of "digital prowess."
This is going to really change the landscape in terms of who will be left holding the reigns.
Bravo Sir Martin, Bravo!
December 8, 2008
This new post is a response to a recent New York Times article penned by Virginia Heffernan describing why traditional media (content) must evolve along with new forms of digital expression and technologies.
In her aptly titled piece, Content and Its Discontents, Virginia delves into the subject of how traditional content and the new media landscape are quite different and how it is the old that must now change for the new.
You can read the article here <--
My response is as follows:
The medium in and of itself is a new frontier in both expression and a more complex means of communication. Traditional “storytellers” have been shoving their round pegs into our square holes for ten years now and have completely missed the point of how powerful the new media landscape truly is.
Traditional agencies have been blindfolding their clients into believing that they can translate their brands online and have been grossly misguiding them into a realm entirely unknown by the agency and employing professionals who have been trained to simply copy whatever the latest template is.
This is not entirely the fault of the agencies themselves rather the brutal reality of immediate transition to a new medium that has quickly emerged due to the speed of technology, the veraciousness of the web and a struggling economy looking for more bang for its advertising and entertainment buck.
Over the past ten years, smaller digital agencies (sometimes referred to as vendors) have been carrying the workload in developing these new expressions for a fraction of the cost that the clients are paying their traditional agencies for. These smaller digital shops have been the primary source for the growth of this medium in both design and development and have been the ones to set the bar for standards of excellence.
The online experience is a much more concentrated and intimate one that, if executed properly, will not only completely immerse the end user with the content but deliver to them a message that is so much more powerful than any we have known in the past.
Snippets have replaced pages, animation has surpassed the static image and video accompanying text has become the norm in storytelling. The traditional static and its partner in crime, the analog, ways of story telling and brand building of the past are now lingering like a defunct eon waiting for its evolutionary replacement.
Traditional content simply doesn’t fit the digital mold and its forceful application only makes it even more clumsy and undecipherable.
Both the advertising and entertainment industries need to realize that a new breed of creative professionals who are both equally creative and technologically savvy are needed to properly codify their messages in a way that live harmoniously within the pixelated world we now live in.
The smaller screen calls for more intelligent and visceral executions of the tale being told. Rebroadcasting traditional content online is a futile attempt to monetize on a medium that screams for original content created specifically for its voice.
We need to all take a collective step forward and hand the baton over to those professionals who have been reared online, we are no longer vendors, computer geeks or web designers.
We are artisans who have trained ourselves to tell more compelling stores.
We are craftsmen who have been imbued with the ability to live in a world where multiple forms of media converge and are retold as a single and powerful digital voice that reverberates through to billions of small screens all over the world.
We transcend the demographics and local markets, we think globally, we are both localized and global at the same time. We think in more concentrated one by one pixels that are in tune with physics and precision all driven by exacting and in many cases user generated data that is endless.
We are NOT nephews or babysitters, we are NOT hermits and introverts. We are the new face of both entertainment, advertising, journalism and art.
We are both the voice and the originators of these new ideas, we think in pixels, in technology and in innovation, our ideas expand themselves across an almost infinite network and remain strong enough to ring true in the hearts of people in the most sacred and intimate corners of their existences.
Our audiences choose us, we don’t force ourselves onto our audiences like the finite selection of channels that all seem to be saying the same thing. We are unique in every way and our uniqueness forces us to find more and more ways to remain that way day in and day out.
Everything can be translated into this new language called digital, you just need the right people to do it.