Soul of a Nation shines a bright light on the vital contribution of Black artists made over two decades, beginning in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. Soul of a Nation explores how social justice movements, as well as stylistic evolutions in visual art (such as Minimalism and abstraction), were powerfully expressed in the work of artists including Romare Bearden, Barkley Hendricks, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, BetyeSaar, Alma Thomas, Charles White, and William T. Williams. Los Angeles-based artists appear throughout Soul of a Nation, and more deeply in three specific galleries, foregrounding the significant role of Los Angeles in the art and history of the civil rights movement and the subsequent activist era, and the critical influence and sustained originality of the city’s artists, many of whom have lacked wider recognition.
Featuring the work of more than 60 influential artists and including vibrant paintings, powerful sculptures, street photography, murals, and more, this landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America.
Three of our committee members offered their perspectives and reactions to the exhibit. Please see photos in the gallery below.
The Broad “Soul of a Nation” took me on a journey of Black America’s (lowercase intentional) frustration and anger of the oppression endured at that time, expressed through various art forms. I was mostly impressed by those who chose to use creatively to heal their souls and document their experience in a personal way – Bearden, Hendricks and Puryear to name a few. New artists emerged, new expressions of art were formed and healing begun. I was touched by the experience.
Regional Marketing Manager, West Region Outfront Media
My favorite piece was a wood sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett titled “Black Unity”. The gesture, the raising of a closed fist, is a widely known symbol of the black power movement. The sculpture showed this famous gesture and on the reverse side showed two faces, in the style of African masks. Two very different images. To me, the fist represented power and strength, while the faces (or people behind the fist) felt confident, in control and calm.
Another great moment was finding a QR code to a ‘Soul of a Nation Playlist’. This was a great compliment to the exhibit that allowed me to also experience some artist’s music who also paved the way.
The entire exhibit was insightful, and really celebrates the age of Black Power. I think it also told a story that is still relevant today.
Sara Hope Owner
Well, I certainly left creatively inspired! It was great to get out of the office, commune with new friends, and get some culture!
I learned more than I ever imagined through art - and in particular the use of symbols and color as statements to express oppression. As a creative and one who deals in symbols for branding often, it peaks my interest and I want to learn more.
We even left with a blank panther pin and some sweet Basquiat cards!
Deloitte DIG Committee Co-Chair A theme that stood out to me was this tension black artists felt, around what it means to be a black artist, and what “black art” should or shouldn’t be. Some believed the black esthetic must be inherently separate from mainstream art, that it must be for activism and politics. Others disregarded any attempt at being defined or contained. In the 1970’s artist Benny Andrews wrote about white mainstream art critics for “not being able to see a black figure done by a black artist without automatically assuming that the work is propagandistic, or politicizing,” and “being unable to look at an all-black art exhibition with the same impartiality that he brings to an all-white exhibition.”
This is still very prevalent in our world today beyond art. We want to put everything in a box. Many people feel this tension in their own personal and professional life. There’s a duality of feeling a responsibility to represent my culture(s) and yet assert my own individual perspectives without it being received as something that belongs in a box because of the color of my skin.
This was such a great experience to go and learn among other advertising pros of all sorts of backgrounds. I find moments like this are a fun and informative way to open the doors, have intimate conversations to enhance our collective cultural competency and to welcome safe spaces to explore and learn about other cultures and perspectives in the future.
We’ll definitely be doing more outings like these, so stay tuned!
Posted By Administration,
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, July 10, 2019
By Monique Hidalgo Associate Community Manager RPA
On June 4, ThinkLA hosted an event which gave people the opportunity to learn and meet some of L.A.’s top executive women who are dominating the marketing and advertising industry. All who attended the event had the pleasure of learning from Kim Getty, President of Deutsch; Laura Jones Joukovski, Chief Media Officer at TechStyle Fashion Group; Paula Madison, Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC; and former President and General Manager of NBC4 Los Angeles, and Denise Wong, President of Midnight Oil.
The event was moderated by Caitlin Bruno, Strategic Partner Manager at Snap Inc., who started the discussion by asking the panelists about some of the experiences they faced early in their careers. The audience quickly learned that the main driver of success for most of the panelists came from the motivation they received from their families. Kim shared a story, that personally resonated with me, about how losing her father at a young age ultimately became her main driver of her success. Watching her mother struggle as she had to join the workforce for the first time, motivated Kim to never put herself in that situation, and encouraged her to work to get to where she is today.
The panelists were then asked if they had faced any sponsors or antagonists that have impacted their career. Though most of the panel focused on the sponsors who motivated them, Paula shared an example of an antagonizing superior that she once dealt with. His demeaning approach became her motivator for achieving success. Paula made it so that her company recognized how essential she was to it, which even ended up with this particular person being forced to deliver her a promotion, himself.
Another topic Caitlin brought up, which led into an interesting discussion, was if the concept of “work-life balance” actually existed. I was particularly fascinated to learn that all of the panelists do not believe that “work-life balance” is even possible. Kim even stated that she thinks this term should stop being used by companies. Since all of the panelists are also mothers, they agreed that there is no such thing as “work-life balance” when you have to juggle kids, marriage, and a career. Some advice given by Laura was to find a great partner that can help you juggle all of these different aspects of life. Not that it can’t be done alone, but some help makes it a little less difficult.
Caitlin concluded the event by asking the panelists about their takes on the future of marketing and advertising industries. Though they unanimously agreed that since the start of their careers, there has been much improvement from companies being more accepting of diversity and change, they all believe that there is still a long way to go. The industry is evolving, but it’s our job as marketers and advertisers to help clients, companies, or even people to become more accepting of change by normalizing diversity.
One of my main takeaways from this event was to work for somebody that you want to work with, someone that you want to learn and grow from. The panelists were strong advocates about making sure that you put yourself first and are constantly looking out for your best interest. If you’re unhappy with a situation, whether that be because of a superior, your company, your clients, etc., do something about it. Find a somebody you want to work for, a company you want to grow in. Be proactive, “trailblaze your career.”
Path to the She Suite was stocked with some really inspirational women. Though they all have had different upbringings and experiences which lead them to where they are at now, they all shared one common entity – Kim, Laura, Paula, and Denise are all examples of women who are changing the narrative of women in marketing and advertising industries. Their resilience and perseverance are helping to pave the way for future women in the industry.
Posted By Claire Thompson,
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
By Claire Thompson Client Partner Vice Media
I feel compelled to outwardly reflect on yesterday’s event, the culmination of many small but significant moments.
Early last year, when we were re-launching this series as ELC Live!, Susan Franceschini, ThinkLA Executive Director, sat down with me and the former co-chair and urged us to think bigger. So we popped a bottle of rosé, challenged ourselves on weak spots, identified learnings and honed our intentions for future work.
Path to the SheSuite emerged as a key focus from those conversations. And when our first event sold out, it validated our sneaking suspicion that value of this idea extended well beyond a spirited brainstorm.
For several reasons, last night feels like our best work yet.
Our speakers absolutely tore it up (and made us laugh while doing it).
Caitlin Bruno, a fellow cultivator of community in our industry, achieved a personal first in moderating last night’s discussion (and what a natural she was).
We had a fuller, more engaged, more diverse audience than we did at our inaugural event (+500% more men!).
And, we were served up some serious wisdom (plus content recommendations from the baddies themselves, recapped below). Kim told us that the whole “work/life balance” thing probably doesn’t exist. Paula taught us the disarming power of a smile when you’re trying to get promoted. Laura quoted T.Swift and it was good. Denise cleared things up for us: everybody poops.
Most meaningful of all, last night felt like a beginning.
We all scurried off to capture fragments of inspiration buzzing around our heads. And we’re real excited about the ways we can build.
So, please receive this note as our thanks but also as a call to action. We want to brainstorm with you. We want to hear your ideas, outlandish and bland. We want to incubate spin-off events and initiatives.
We’re only as good as the team behind us and last night felt like a radical team effort. And I’m super jazzed about that.
By Frances Rubio, MS Associate Director of Multicultural Marketing Analytics GroupM
On May 23, the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF) held its annual 3AF 2019 Asian Marketing Summit. Held at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, the summit is the only multicultural conference focused solely on the Asian American marketing and advertising industry.
Top brands, industry experts, researchers, content creators, advertising executives, media and other vendors and partners converged in an insightful discussion on business implications of the Asian American consumer. This year, the 3AF celebrated its twentieth anniversary with the theme, “Honoring Our Past, Celebrating the Present, Empowering Our Future.”
Throughout the summit, events and panels spanned multiple verticals and industries:
- From a brand perspective, Scott Wracher, General Manager of Brand/Cross Vehicle/Toyota Dealer Association/Education, Vehicle Marketing and Communications, Toyota Motor North America and Matthew Choy, Account Director, InterTrend discussed Toyota’s branding within the Asian American community, this year focusing on the hybrid brand.
- Canadian Multicultural Marketing veteran Bobby Sahni shared key insights and opportunities relevant for the U.S. market, along with examples and learnings gained by marketing to Asian consumers in Canada.
- Iris Yim, 3AF Vice President and President, Sparkle Insights, shared results from the 3AF’s second media consumption study.
- HL Gan moderated a panel on the power of Asian media with Danny Wong, Skylink TV; Susan de los Santos, The Filipino Press; Jaideep Janakiram, Sony Pictures Networks; and Brian Jun, The Korea Times. This panel discussed the power of Asian media and how it plays a significant role for business that focus on local audiences.
- Panelists Roslynn Alba Cobarrubias, ABS-CBN Head of Music & Talent, Global, Eljay Feuerman, Director of reDEFINE, an IW Group Initiative, and influencer Tiffanie Marie discussed what it takes to reach young Gen Z and Millennials with meaningful content and effective culture-first activations
- Melissa Flores, Director of Power Rangers Development & Production at Allspark Pictures, a Hasbro Company and Malika Lim Eubank, CEO of Hyper Rabbit Media discussed the opportunities, potential pitfalls and intricacies that come with adapting and marketing new Asian kids’ entertainment to the United States.
At the summit, I presented a session entitled, “From All-American Girl to Fresh Off the Boat to Crazy Rich Asians and Beyond: How the Changing American Landscape has Demanded Better Asian American Representation in the Last 25 Years”. In it, I shared insights and the latest research on the social and cultural impact of Asian representation in the big screen and in television and social media and how the rise of Asian representation affects the rest of mainstream America:
- Asian Americans make up 6% of the total population at nearly 19 million people but their wallet sizes are comparable to other multicultural audiences at nearly $1 trillion in buying power
- Asians have historically been whitewashed or misrepresented, often seen as foreign or secondary, underdeveloped characters--only recently have we seen a shift in Asian American representation
- The launch of YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006 had a significant affect in changing the Asian representation in the media:
- YouTube was a vehicle for Asian creators to represent themselves accurately--today, we see these influencers affect the mainstream, such as Michelle Phan, Wong Fu Productions, and Lilly Singh who was recently named to host a Late Night Show on NBC
- Twitter and social media helped the Asian community affect representation in massive ways--from affecting movie box office results of whitewashed films, to influencing reviews, to starting effective social campaigns such as #StarringJohnCho and ensuring a #GoldOpen for Crazy Rich Asians in 2018
Complementary to my session, Michelle Sugihara, Executive Director of CAPE moderated a panel on “Youth Audience and Entertainment – How to Resonate with The Next Generation of Cultural Influencers” with Director/Producer of Faithful and Jane and Emma, Jenn Lee Smith; COO at China Lion Film Distribution, Robert Lundberg; and Indonesian American actor, model and stuntman, Yoshi Sudarso. The panelists discussed the landscape of content production and the changes in the last decade. The demographics of audiences has also shifted so that more than half of younger audiences are multicultural.
About the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF)
The 3AF’s mission is to advance the Asian American marketing and advertising industry for Asian American consumers through education, advocacy, promotion, and increased collaboration of all industry stakeholders including but not limited to marketers, agencies, research partners and media. Additionally, 3AF seeks to promote and encourage high standards of conduct and ethics among our members and our industry.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
-- George R. R. Martin, "A Dance with Dragons"
As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019 closes, we at ThinkLA DIG would like to challenge you to read about our community and support Asian/Pacific writers throughout the remainder of the year and beyond. We’ve compiled a list of ten books to get you started.
As marketers and advertisers, we are storytellers. And as we focus in more on telling diverse stories thoughtfully, there is a risk in delivering them in ways that simply do not land. Perhaps they lack authenticity to the group we claim to represent. Worse, you end up with offensive PR nightmares. Even worse, you don’t even try. We need to do the work and introduce even more diverse narratives into our work as marketers.
To really underline the inclusion in diversity and inclusion initiatives, involve the community. And if you aren’t personally part of a community, be a true ally by appreciating rather than appropriating. We need our allies, and we need them to dig deeper into our histories, our stories, our truths. And that often means doing uncomfortable, hard work.
That means doing your research and being empathetic. It means consuming media and reading stories that will help you visualize what a specific community or individual might see and experience in this world – figuratively walking in someone else’s shoes.
From business books to fiction, non-fiction to poetry, we present 10 recommendations to get you started (or continue) your Asian Pacific story journey. Whether you prefer audio books, your tablet, or you simply want the experience a good, old-fashioned page turning, we hope you learn something. Without further ado and in no specific order:
• "Asian American Dreams" by Helen Zia is a deep dive into twentieth-century, Asian American United States History. This work helps fill in gaps of our own histories within this country. It’s a great anthropological view of immigrant stories and Asian American identities as shaped by our unique histories, cultures, and struggles with racism.
Zia is a journalist and daughter of Chinese immigrants. She captures diverse stories of politics, Asian American activism, and tension between Asian groups and other minority groups. Zia centers this discourse around the Japanese internment camps during World War II. She even takes care to explore other intersections of identity, from issues of same-sex marriage and the refugee experience to adopted Asian Americans and mixed-race folks.
• "Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians" by Jane Hyun helps members of the community navigate the corporate ladder and reach beyond middle management. When our cultural values and upbringing do not always sync up with the corporate politics and unspoken rules of western business culture, Hyun offers insight.
• "Thousand Star Hotel" by Bao Phi is a powerful collection of poetry by a Minnesota-based, Vietnamese American poet and author who has been a performance poet since 1991. This is his second printed collection of poems, which does not shy away from the rawness of racism, the immigrant refugee identity, and the life of the Asian American urban poor. You can also check out his first children’s book, A Different Pond.
• "The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time" by Beau Sia is another fantastic collection of poetry, brought to you by a Tony Award-winning and seasoned slam poet. This book showcases work that spans nearly a decade of real-life learnings, revealing the beauty of creative growth and vulnerability. Sia was born to Chinese immigrants from the Philippines and raised in Oklahoma City. He frequently uses his voice to challenge Asian American stereotypes.
• "Interpreter of Maladies" is the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of Jhumpa Lahiri (she also authored The Namesake.) Lahiri has a true gift for capturing the Indian American immigrant experience through this collection of stories. She paints pictures of that unique and painfully beautiful world immigrants live in that is not quite the motherland and not 100% American either. Lahiri’s writings will make you feel powerful emotions.
• "Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan, and the two companion books in the series (China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems) hardly need an introduction after the success of the movie last year but check it out if you need a fun vacation read. The Chinese socialites of Singapore come to life with over-the-top drama set on this breathtaking island. Your mouth will water at the richness of the food described in the famed hawker markets. And you will see this opulent world through character Rachel Chu’s Asian American eyes.
• "Hawaii One Summer" is written by award-winning author, Maxine Hong Kingston, author of Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and China Men. Kingston is a Stockton, California-born (1940), first-generation Chinese American, who also lived in the Bay Area and Hawaii, where her grandfathers worked on plantations upon first immigrating to America. Her stories are a unique blend of autobiography, fantasy and folklore: personal and honest in its’ reflection on post-WWII racism. Hawaii One Summer is a collection of 12 prose selections released in 1987.
• "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini is set in Afghanistan against a heartbreaking timeline that spans thirty years. Like many Asian stories, love and family features prominently. This unlikely tale of friendship between boys of different caste and privilege, during the end of the Afghan monarchy, and the legacy of their fathers’ influence is an emotional ride. The political, religious and ethnic tensions and the beauty of human connection despite it is inspiring and memorable.
• "Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama" by Diane C. Fujino is the first biography about 1960s activist Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese-American activist, who championed human rights after her own family’s experience of the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor. Kochiyama met Malcom X in New York, where she lived after the war in the 1960s, and she got heavily involved defending the rights of Black Americans, as well as Asian Americans, Puerto Rico and political prisoners. She brought diverse communities together, particularly the African American and Asian American communities. She dedicated her life to social justice, defying so many stereotypes and gender, as well as racial norms, especially for her time.
• "We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation" by Jeff Chang (writer and journalist who brought you the sociopolitical history of hip hop in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop) is a series of essays exploring more contemporary manifestations of racism such as #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite as well as this greater idea of diversity. He also explains the century-long history of redlining, racial separation in housing, and offers his cultural critique of resegregation in our present day, arguing that undoing its’ effects is the key to cultural and racial equity.
In the 2005 film War Of The Worlds, Tom Cruise’s character, Ray, is being a bit of a jerk to his estranged son, Robbie, who is being a jerk right back. In an effort to bond, Ray decides to take his son and daughter outside to throw a baseball around in the backyard.
During their conversation, Ray says to his son, “Haven’t you heard? Between me and my brother, we know everything.”
Ray’s daughter then asks, “What’s the capital of Australia?”
Ray says, “That’s one my brother knows”.
There’s a simple genius at the heart of that joke: you don’t have to know everything.
With the rapid rate of change of technology and with it, the constant shape shifting of social media and influencers, there’s increasing pressure to be something of an expert in all the things, all the time. But the saying “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” cautions us all, drink deep or not at all. Of course there’s a simple alternative to having to know everything, surround yourself with people from different disciplines and different ways of thinking, and talk to them.
It takes the pressure away and allows you to focus on what you do well. At LOLA, we like to call it Intelligent Collaboration.
I’m sure everyone has an idea of what collaboration is, but I’ll tell you what it’s not. Collaboration isn’t just saying nice things about other people’s ideas while you quietly push your own agenda. Being nice while working in parallel might feel like collaboration because, in theory you’re working on the same project, but in reality you’re not building a stronger solution — you’re potentially destroying it.
Right People. Right Time.
Collaboration, like insights, should be at the heart of any project, and though it’s a liberating creative exercise, it does benefit from throwing some process around it. For instance, let’s say one of your team, has an idea for a client and brings it to you. As a group, you’d want to throw it around and ask, “Is the idea viable? Have we done it before? Is the client predisposed to this kind of thinking?”
Then you should push and prod a little, and try to poke holes to see if the idea is leaking. If it seems robust, expand on it as a group and challenge the team to think about what it might look like if it were a campaign, a Superbowl spot, an outdoor billboard, or a digital ad on Facebook a YouTube pre-roll. Do all this to figure out if the idea has legs. How big can it go and how little can it be and still make sense? You don’t want to run to the client with a pie in the sky idea that could never work in the real world.
Next, bring in your subject matter experts. Sure, you can google anything, but what you want is an expert opinion — an outside influence. Doing this doesn’t change the big idea, instead, it opens it up to other possibilities.
At this point you want to be open to following the expert’s lead into other areas. The process of collaboration let’s you adapt and evolve, and leads to a solution that you can sell with conviction, safe in the knowledge that you could actually pull this off.
"Well, duh", I hear you say, and it sounds a bit simple, a bit obvious, it’s because it is. So why aren’t we all doing it?
Well, some clients are cautious by nature and want the agency focused on the day-to-day. Fair enough, it’s their money. With that in mind, before pitching a new idea, you want to arm yourselves with the best information and make sure your argument for this brave new idea is compelling. We do this by collaborating from the start. The more we collaborate, the better we can ballpark what the investment will need to be and show what the results could be.
Take the risk away and it becomes a return on ideas, not just a return on investment.
Leave Your Ego At The Door.
Just remember, true intelligent collaboration isn’t just about outside opinions; everyone has an opinion, some more helpful than others. However true collaboration means you’re going to have skin in the game. Don’t swoop in at the 11th hour with information the team could’ve used three days ago. Get involved. Run the risk of your idea not getting up. And be ok with that. Be part of building something you couldn’t have thought up by yourself. You might even impress yourself.
Realize that there are a million jobs out there that only require effort from the neck down. No matter what your role in this industry, you’re in an industry that actually wants you to think and rewards you for doing it well. Think about it, you’re solving problems — with your brain! That’s rad. You’re making things that never existed before. Why would you not collaborate? Seriously! The odds of getting to something truly great are stacked in your favour if you have smart people to bounce ideas off of. Anything I’ve ever been awarded for came as a result of working with a team of brilliant collaborators.
Management and creatives alike need to recognize the benefits of collaborating for the sake of their own careers. Only then will they become more valuable in an industry that pays them to think and create. I say, collaborate or die. Ultimately, as creative problem solvers, “the more, the better, and the different” we can think, the more successful we will all be.
May is Jewish American History Month. This month is a special celebration as declared by President George W. Bush on April 20, 2006, an announcement in achievement in the lobbying effort of the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish Community leaders for a celebration of Jewish Americans and their heritage.
The Jewish Museum of Florida is located in Miami Beach’s first synagogue, established in 1929during a time of change when prior to this date, Jews had been denied permission to construct a synagogue. This museum represents a history of persecution that Jews experienced all over the world and still continue to see even today.
The theme for 2019 is American Jewish Illustrators, those who have created and continue to create children’s books, iconic graphic novels, and syndicated comics and illustrations.Think about the beautiful works of Maurice Sendak, Stan Lee, Ezra Jack Keats, and many more, all of whom have brought their unique perspective and pasts into works that have changed the lives of children forever. Without their voices and their illustrations, we may never have experienced heart ache, love, and friendship as we know it today.
We at ThinkLA offer you the opportunity to celebrate JAHM locally; you can take your own tour of local longstanding Jewish landmarks (who doesn’t want to have a pastrami sandwich at Canters?) or joining the Los Angeles City Council members at their “Being Deborah: A History of Jewish Women Creating Change in LA” event on May 29 at City Hall.
Often times, we reflect on Jews as a result of observing a holiday, but we must remember that Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and part of a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrew; but there is so much more to this history and its people that have made our lives better. Take the time to celebrate the Jewish Heritage locally by learning more about Jewish Achievements and how they have changed the city we live in. In fact, L.A. has the second largest Jewish population in the US!
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly which break the mold from the mundane, handpicked by ThinkLA Board Member and award-winning creative, Luis Camano. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S.
Ayudín (Clorox) / Mexico-Argentina “Almost a monument”- Cleaning the house? In South America men are not very inclined to help, but when they do they feel they deserve the appropriate recognition.
Coke / China
"Faces of the City" - China is a very diverse country with more than 240 cities with different cultures and dialects. Here’s a very colorful campaign that used the product’s packaging to share and celebrate the unique character and vibes of the people who live there.
Change.org / Spain "La oreja de los políticos" (The politicians' ear) - All over the world voters feel politicians never listen to them. Tired of it, Spanish voters decided to take action before the April 28th 2019 election. A very public display for everyone who had something to say.
There has been a lot of discussion about “rebundling” or reversing the now prevalent agency model of separate agencies for creative and media.
In the late 1990’s, most of the major holding companies, as well as many clients, had come to the realization that the ever changing and increasingly complex media landscape required far more attention to media than most “full-service” agencies were then equipped to provide.
The solution was “unbundling”--the creation of media-specialist agencies that offered aggregated buying power and other efficiencies. The holding companies sold unbundling to their clients as a way to get a “best in class solution,” even if that meant they would have to significantly change the way they did business. One of the ways that issue was mitigated was reduced cost. Most clients ended up paying less for unbundled services than they did when they worked with a single full-service agency.
There were, of course, significant drawbacks to this model: Clients were forced to manage at least two agency partners rather than one, and for some, the number of shops on their roster increased when ultra-specialized agencies were engaged such as search, social, and digital media. But the biggest drawback only became obvious over time: Media and creative agencies collaborated far less with each other than full-service creative and media departments did under the full-service model.
In recent years, many of the clients I worked with bemoaned the extra time required to deal with multiple agencies. And while they mostly accepted the idea that specialist media shops were more likely to provide best-in-class solutions compared to the way media was handled “in the old days,“ they couldn’t help but wonder if something had not been lost.
Would a “big idea” creative solution be ignored because it didn’t match up with the media solution being proposed -- or would a media solution that had the potential to drive a great creative idea never reach the creative team on the brand, because the media and creative agencies rarely interacted? And how is the ever important management of data analytics handled across both agencies?
Insights gained are critically important to both media and creative strategy. In some cases, clients had to hire yet another resource to manage their data analytics.
A partial answer to those questions was enacted by a few of my past clients, particularly those who simply hated the endless series of meetings that dealing with multiple agencies required. Instead, they scheduled multi-agency meeting days, which enabled them to brief all of their agencies at once. That partially solved the problem of agencies not always being on the same page vis-à-vis the client’s issues or strategy.
But a fundamental weakness in the process still remained: the agencies didn’t interact enough once the meeting was over. So instead of getting a great advertising solution, the clients, in many cases, got good media ideas and good creative ideas.
Is this unbundled model the best way? Maybe it’s time to find out.
For one thing, a number of stand-alone media agencies have been under the gun in recent years, driven by the ANA investigations into media transparency, rebates and steering media budgets to more profitable channels. The result has been an endless series of agency reviews as clients try to get ahead of those problems. Inevitably, some of those reviews ended up being decided almost entirely on price, which resulted in many media shops having to operate on razor thin margins.
All too often, this simply resulted in a “you get what you pay for” relationship, which serves neither the advertiser or media agency well (even though it’s beloved by client purchasing folks).
Maybe that’s why we’re beginning to see a revival of the traditional full-service agency model. A few truly innovative creative agencies are bringing media buying back in house and aggressively investing in the systems, tools and talent necessary to deliver truly integrated creative/media solutions to their clients. Obviously, these commitments are costly, but at the end of the day, they very well may pay out.
But another trend also needs to be watched closely: clients bringing media capabilities in-house. While some large brands that experimented with that model recently abandoned the idea due to its cost, the challenge of finding and retaining first-rate media professionals and an inability to keep up with technology, it is still of great interest to some. And that will continue to be a threat to media agencies.
As the media agency business continues to evolve to automated media buying, will our services simply not be seen as useful and necessary by clients? Will they want to own “black boxes” themselves, cutting agencies out of the picture altogether? And where does that leave the critically important strategic side of our business?
Creative agencies are also being challenged. More and more clients are hiring agencies on a project basis rather than on an AOR basis. This makes it very difficult for them to keep top talent and deliver their best work, not to mention the financial instability it brings -- yet another motivation that positions rebundling in a positive light.
The answer, I think, could very well be a business model that for more than 100 years delivered great work and generated terrific revenue for clients and fair profits for agencies: the full-service agency model.
Imagine an entire team of talented advertising professionals working together on behalf of a client -- instead of a disparate group of companies that barely talk to each other, much less collaborate with each other, competing with each other for pieces of the client’s budget.
Somewhere up in advertising heaven, it’s very possible that Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Raymond Rubicam and Jay Chiat are all smiling, saying to themselves “we could have told them so.” The return to the full-service agency model is such a provocative idea that it almost seems brand new.
We asked Jake Hay of PopShorts to tell us about his company's experience working with ThinkLA to reach the advertising, marketing and media community in Los Angeles. Here's what he had to say.
ThinkLA has been an invaluable community both for myself and for our company, PopShorts. Since PopShorts joined ThinkLA a little over three years ago, we have grown our business by over 700% and have added new diversity to our portfolio of clients. We attribute a great deal of this newfound success to ThinkLA, as the majority of our new clients have come from within the L.A. advertising community. The networking at these events has been instrumental for us in both client acquisition and client retention.
For our employees, we've taken advantage of the many professional development programs that ThinkLA offers. Our CEO has been so impressed with ThinkLA that he decided to give back by joining their mentor program back in January of 2018. He has since helped two motivated women who were new to the community with their career aspirations, professional development and networking needs by sharing his personal and professional experience, knowledge and skills via one-on-one mentor sessions.
ThinkLA sets a standard for the LA advertising community and professional communities as a whole. It has been an honor to grow alongside this organization and within this community. We are grateful for the incredible people we’ve met through ThinkLA, the expertise and ideas that have been so openly shared, and the unconditional support we’ve received. On behalf of myself and the rest of PopShorts, we want to give a huge thank you to all of the ThinkLA staff. We wouldn't be where we are now without you!
Thanks, Jake! ThinkLA is grateful to all of our members like you and PopShorts who make our community great by giving back and collaborating with us. We wish you continued success!