Tag Archives: creative agency

Quick Chat: Bonfire Labs’ Mary Mathaisell

Over the course of nearly 30 years, San Francisco’s Bonfire Labs has embraced change. Over the years, the company evolved from an editorial and post house to a design and creative content studio that leverages the best aspects of the agency and production company models without adhering to either one.

This hybrid model has worked well for product launches for Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Logitech and many others.

The latest change is in the company’s ownership, with the last of the original founders stepping down and a new management partnership taking over — led by executive producer Mary Mathaisell, managing director Jim Bartel and head of strategy and creative Chris Weldon.

We spoke with Mathaisell to get a better sense of Bonfire Labs’ past, present and future.

Can you give us some history of Bonfire Labs? When did you join the company? How/why did you first get into producing?
I’ve been with Bonfire Labs for seven years. I started here as head of production. After being at several large digital agencies working on campaigns and content for brands like Target, Gap, LG and PayPal, I wanted to build something more sustainable than just another campaign and was thrilled that Bonfire was interested in growing into a full-service creative company with integrated production.

Prior to working at AKQA and Publicis, I worked in VFX and production as well as design for products and interfaces, but my primary focus and love has always been commercial production.

The studio has evolved from a traditional post studio to creative strategy and content company. What were the factors that drove those changes?
Bonfire Labs has always been smart about staying small and strategic about the kind of work and clients to focus on. We have been able to change based on both the kind of work we want to be doing and what the market needs. With a giant need for content, especially video content, we have decided to staff and service clients as experts across all the phases of creative development and production and finishing. Instead of going to an agency and a production company and post houses, our clients can work directly with us on everything from concept to finishing.

Silicon Valley is clearly a big client base for you. What are they generally coming to you for? Are the content needs in high tech different from other business sectors?
Our clients usually have a new product, feature or brand that they want the world to know about. We work on product launches, brand awareness campaigns, product education, event content and social content. Most of our work is for technology companies, but every company these days has a technology component. I would say that speed to market is one key differentiator for our clients. We are often building stories as we are in production, so we get a lot done with our clients through creative collaboration and by not following the traditional rules of an agency or a production company.

Any specific trends that you’re seeing recently from your clients? New areas that Bonfire is looking to explore, either new markets for your talents or technology you’re looking to explore further?
Rapid brand prototyping is a new service we are offering to much excitement. Because we have experience across so many technology brands and work closely with our clients, we can develop a language and brand voice faster than most traditional agencies. Technology brands are evolving so quickly that we often start working on content creation before a brand has defined itself or transitioned to its next phase. Rapid brand prototyping allows brands to test content and grow the brand simultaneously.

Blade Shadow

Can you talk about some projects that you have done recently that challenged you and the team?
We rolled out a launch film for a new start-up client called Blade Shadow. We are working with Salesforce to develop trailblazer stories and anthem films for its .org branch, which focuses on NGOs, education and philanthropy.

The company is undergoing a transition with some of the original partners. Can you talk about that a bit as well?
The original founders have passed the torch to the group of people who have been managing and producing the work over the past five to 15 years. We have six new owners, three managing partners and three associate partners. Jim Bartel is the managing director; Chris Weldon is the head of strategy and creative, and I’m the executive producer in charge of content development and production. The three of us make up the management team.

The three of us make up the management team. Sheila Smith (head of production) Robbie Proctor (head of editorial) and Phil Spitler (creative technology lead) are associate partners as they contribute to and lead so much of our work and process and have been part of the company for over 10 years each.

 

Behind the Title: Compadre’s Mika Saulitis

This creative started writing brand campaigns for his favorite oatmeal at eight years old.

NAME: Mika Saulitis

COMPANY: Culver City, California’s Compadre

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We’re a creative marketing agency. I could get into the nuts and bolts of our process and services, but what we specialize in is pretty simple: building a brand’s story, telling that story and spreading that story everywhere people can fall in love with it.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Director of Creative Strategy

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
The short answer is that I oversee brand strategy and integrated marketing campaigns. The longer answer is that our creative strategy team’s primary goal is to take complex insights and business challenges and develop simple, clear creative solutions. Sometimes that’s renaming a company or developing a new brand position, or conceiving a big “hook” for a 360 marketing campaign and rippling it out across on-air, social, experiential, and brand partnerships.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Identifying the unique differentiator of a brand or product and figuring out how to express that in a succinct, unexpected way.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Proofreading 150-page presentations.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
9am. Once that coffee hits, I’m off to the races.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I always wanted to be a garbage man growing up, so if they still ride along on the back of the truck, probably that.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I started writing ads for my favorite oatmeal to convert my classmates when I was eight years old, so I’ve been a marketer at heart for pretty much my whole life.

Freeform

Freeform

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
We just developed a brand campaign for Freeform that rejects dated societal norms. Our concept, “It’s Not Us, It’s You,” was a breakup letter to society; we shot real people, as well as the network’s talent, and empowered them to speak their piece and break up with all the things that suck about societal standards.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Noise-canceling headphones, Apple TV and my bike. That was technology at one point, right?

CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
I’m not ashamed to admit that Flo Rida gets my creative juices flowing.

THIS IS A HIGH STRESS JOB WITH DEADLINES AND CLIENT EXPECTATIONS.
Golf is my ultimate stress reliever. Being surrounded by trees, chirping birds and the occasional “fore” puts me at ease.

Behind the Title: 2C Creative CD Marni Wagner

NAME: Marni Wagner

COMPANY: Miami’s 2C Creative  (@2cmediaTV)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
2C is a creative agency and content production company based in beautiful Miami. Our staff is like a family. We spend more time with each other than anyone else.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I get to write and produce my own projects, but I also oversee other producers on their projects and give feedback and guidance to them.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
That I’m also in charge of craft services. ☺

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Writing.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When there is not enough time or money to execute an elaborate idea.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
When the cork comes out of the wine bottle! Actually, that’s my least productive time.

I would say first thing in the morning is when the ideas start forming.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Playing in a pile of puppies.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have always been a creative writer and loved doing it, so television felt like the natural fit when I got to college – though my parents thought I was pre-med.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Page Six TV launch campaign (Twentieth Television), Nashville season launch campaign (CMT), Inside With Chris Cuomo (HLN).

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
That’s a hard question, so I’ll say what I’m most proud of recently, and that would be the Page Six TV launch — I loved the writing on it.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I can’t live without my iPhone, Apple TV and my flat iron (is that technology?).

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I don’t listen to music while I work because I am always so busy writing that it just interferes with what’s in my head. If I could multi-task in that way, I would listen to Billy Joel – don’t judge!

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I spend time with my 2 ½ year-old. Her perspective on things is so amazing and eye-opening that it totally de-stresses me and puts a smile on my face.

Heidi Netzley joins We Are Royale as director of biz dev

Creative agency We Are Royale has added Heidi Netzley as director of business development. She will be responsible for helping to evolve the company’s business development process and building its direct-to-brand vertical.

Most recently, Netzley held a similar position at Digital Kitchen, where she expanded and diversified the company’s client base and also led projects like a digital documentary series for Topgolf and show launch campaigns for CBS and E! Network. Prior to that, she was business development manager at Troika, where she oversaw brand development initiatives and broadcast network rebrands for the agency’s network clients, including ABC, AwesomenessTV, Audience Network and Sundance Cinemas.

Netzley launched her career at Disney/ABC Television Group within the entertainment marketing division. During her seven-year tenure, she held various roles ranging from marketing specialist to manager of creative services, where she helped manage the brand across multi-platform marketing campaigns for all of ABC’s primetime properties.

“With our end-to-end content creation capabilities, we can be both a strategic and creative partner to other types of brands, and I look forward to helping make that happen,” says Netzley.

When Netzley isn’t training for the 2018 LA Marathon, she’s busy fundraising for causes close to her heart, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for which she was nominated as the organization’s 2016 Woman of the Year. She currently sits on the society’s leadership committee.

Behind the Title: Leviathan executive creative director Jason White

Name:  Jason White (@jasonlvthn) 

Company: Leviathan is a creative agency that specializes in designing digital experiences for physical environments. Some examples of our work would be projection-mapped concerts, experiential events and interactive installations.

Though our company’s core competency is content-related CG production, our differentiator is conceptual development, paired with software engineering to create custom systems and experiences for each new project.

What’s your job title?
Executive Creative Director

What does that entail? 
I’m responsible for our company’s creative direction: who we are and what we appear to be. I oversee all aspects of the company’s creative output, often helping my team look at everything we do from a holistic, art-centered point of view.

I also play a prominent role in defining the company’s culture — from coaching individual teammates to meticulously crafting our portfolio for public viewing. When it comes to public relations, attracting others into our orbit has got to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

What would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
The left and right sides of the brain working in perfect harmony… at lightning-fast speeds.
The job is a delicate balance of focusing on the business end, from both our company’s and clients’ needs, while continuously expressing myself creatively, by always coming up with new looks and fresh ideas.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
Growing artists. I feel an enormous amount of satisfaction creating jobs for artists, creating paths for growth and seeing them succeed over time. It’s incredibly rewarding to not only be in the position to invent a company that provides jobs but to work alongside the staff and continuously re-invent the company together.

What’s your least favorite?
Stopping. I sometimes have to stop the creative fire within my team, that same fire that I’d ignited when the project started, that thing that we were so excited about as a team. Sometimes stopping what we’ve started means that clients changed their minds, direction or just ran out of money to support the project. Breaking that bad news to my team is hard, and I don’t like breaking hearts.

What is your favorite time of the day?
I’m into every minute of every day. There’s just never enough time to experience it all.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
Creating non-commercial works of art and exhibitions.

How early on did you know this would be your path?
When I was in middle school, I was already creating my art and had a vision of building an art-centered culture and studio, inspired by a blend of Andy Warhol’s art factory and the strange world that Salvador Dali had conjured.

It wasn’t until college, though, that I realized computer animation would be the key to putting all of these dreams into reality and the moment I stepped into a post production boutique, I immediately knew that I would someday build one.

Airbus

Can you name some recent projects you have worked on?
We’ve recently wrapped two special exhibit projects. One is an experiential exhibit for Airbus, a commercial aircraft titan, that features sculptural projection mapping, using a touch interface for system control. The other project is an interactive exhibit within California’s PG&E energy training center that uses augmented reality to teach people how to conserve energy while touring through a real model home. Both of these exhibits share an instructional approach to the interactivity that informs and educates in real spaces, making for project assignments that are much more rewarding.

What is the project are you proudest of?
I’m in the middle of writing a book on the subject of Experiential Design, under contract with Routledge Press. It’s an industry-focused book that documents the extraordinary art and technology experiences surrounding us and, ideally, helps define our industry for the current and next generation of artists. I’m proud to say that so many studios and professional artists have rallied to the cause. They have been supportive and generous with content and interviews, and enriching this project.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Laptop. Wacom tablet. Weather app.

What social media channels do you follow?
The ISS (The International space station) photograph feeds are so inspiring. Daily images from life in space puts things in perspective for me.

Do you listen to music while you work?
I have a work playlist filled with composer Cliff Martinez’s soundtrack work (Drive, Only God Forgives, Solaris) His recent The Knick series soundtracks are perfect to work to; delicate, meditative and curious.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
I fight. Well, only through boxing in my gym. I’ve been doing it for almost two years now, and I have to say that it’s both the best full-body workout and mental stress reliever. The amount of focus required under intense pressure ironically puts you in a zen state of mind, where nothing else matters.

To rent or buy? That is the question

What best fits your studio’s needs is a personal choice.

By Fred Ruckel

When it comes to production, there is always a debate about whether to buy equipment or rent it. RuckSackNY has faced this dilemma many times over the years and recently we decided it was time to take the plunge — we are now investing in the gear we would often rent.

This decision was not taken lightly and didn’t happen overnight because our choice wasn’t a cheap one. For me, it all comes down to quality control and consistent shooting. Over the course of the year we shoot as many as 20 times, which might not seem like a lot to some, but for a little company like ours it means constantly hiring crews and equipment.

Continue reading

Danielle LaFortune upped to SVP entertainment marketing at mOcean

mOcean has promoted long-time staffer Danielle LaFortune to SVP of entertainment marketing. She is now responsible for managing all theatrical and broadcast print and on-air creative teams and projects, keeping them on deadline and budget, and overseeing all campaigns from pitch to delivery.

“My role is to act as a liaison between our creative agency and our clients,” says LaFortune. “We have to be strategic in the way we assemble our teams and how we present to the client. I’m always trying to see everything through the client’s eyes, while giving our creatives the freedom to do what they do best.”

LaFortune originally joined mOcean in 2008 as VP of print creative services. Prior to mOcean, she was VP of creative services for New Wave Entertainment for 12 years. While at New Wave, she worked on projects such as The Big LebowskiBorat and Ice Age, as well as Star Wars: Episode I, II and III, acting as the agency-of-record liaison with Lucasfilm.

LA-based mOcean offers a team of strategists, writers, editors, directors and designers specializing in branding, marketing and content development.

Meet Basetwo Media’s Creative Director Lilian Salloum

NAME: Lilian Salloum

COMPANY: Vancouver’s Basetwo Media (@BasetwoMedia)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Basetwo Media offers complete “prep-to-post” video agency services for corporate clients, including scriptwriting, filming, editing, motion graphics and 3D animation. Our services extend beyond concept to completion of individual projects. Our approach involves partnering with our clients in a strategic planning process to help them develop and execute a long-term video strategy.

Many of our larger clients have in-house video production capabilities but still find they need help from time to time. Our work continues upon delivery of a project. Often videos need to be Continue reading

Oishii brings on Carlos Penny as head of biz dev

LA-based Oishii Creative has hired Carlos Penny as head of business development. He comes to the creative agency with more than a decade of biz dev experience, including positions at production companies SD Media and Filter.

Penny’s hiring is an example of Oishii Creative’s continued evolution, embracing strategic partnerships with a focus on multidisciplinary talent and investing in proprietary technology, mobile video and multi-channel networks.

Penny joins Oishii with years of experience helping companies reach their business goals. His unlikely foray into the creative world began in the field of healthcare, working as a healthcare staff manager and recruiter. He soon realized that his strengths — bringing people together, researching market trends, developing new business models, and implementing strategies — translated well to the creative industry, where he transitioned to business development for agencies specializing in entertainment production and branding.

Born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Connecticut, Penny graduated with a B.A. in Corporate Communications with a focus on Media Studies from the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

Meet The Owner: Ryan Vanni

Behind The Title…

bkwld-rvanni_press13

NAME: Ryan Vanni

TITLE: CEO/Founder

COMPANY: BKWLD (www.bkwld.com) is an independent digital agency founded in 2001. We begin with the user first – before ourselves, before our own creative ambitions, our lust for awards, or industry accolades. Our charge is to find what users value, then the best use of concept and medium to deliver it.  Whether it is creative digital strategy and execution, branded content, or live-action production and post, our team is dedicated to doing great work for great clients, and we have a hell of a time doing it. @shitBKWLDsays Continue reading