February 4, 2020

Feature

Andrew Wareham, Managing Director and Executive Producer – The Taxi Group

Our Q&A with Telly Jury Council Andrew Wareham

Managing Director and Executive Producer of The Taxi Group

With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Andrew Wareham is seen by many as an experienced and trusted mentor. He has been instrumental in shaping the careers of some of Australia’s top producers and directors and has been the driving force behind multiple award-winning, multinational TVC campaigns.

Andrew has spearheaded Taxi Film Production from its humble beginnings in 2001 to the dynamic powerhouse that it is today. Through his forward-thinking and creative approach, Andrew has grown flagship brand Taxi to encompass an assortment of enterprises fit for today’s dynamically evolving landscape. Officially penned in 2018, The Taxi Group encompasses Taxi Film Production, Traffic Film and Video, Tasty Pictures, Welcome Fiji, Changer and Born and Bred Talent.

Andrew loves nothing more than a good chat, meeting new people, and supporting emerging leaders in the industry.

What piece of video/television has recently inspired you?
I’m absolutely taken by ABC’s (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) “Old People’s Home for Four Year Old’s” at the moment. It’s a social experiment series that connects nursing home residents with four year old kids. I love a doco series that can make you laugh, tear-up and most importantly teach you to be kinder to one another.

What is most exciting for you at the moment within your industry?
No matter what is happening with the ongoing changes in all sectors of the industry with technology, budgets shrinking etc, I still love nothing more than getting a really great script come across my desk. It might sound a bit old school, but the power of a great idea is really at the core of what we do in television and content production

What is one thing the Telly Awards community should know about you?
The past 25 years of life may have been devoted to the film & TV industry, but before that I was a certified wool classer working in outback Australia! People are often quite surprised when I tell them that. I also split my working week between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, so people are always surprised to hear that I love retreating to my property, pottering around with the cows and horses at every chance.

What is a piece of work you are most proud to have worked on?
It’s hard to have favourites, but most recently we just completed an unusual brief for a Transport Authority in that it was large logistical challenge. We had to find 40 real life drivers of varying demographics throughout the State of Queensland and film all of their driving movements for a week and collect that data for a formal behavioural study and corresponding educational TVC to drive behavioural change and safe driving awareness.
I’m also in pre-production for an amazing charity – 4 Aussie Heroes – which is committed to supporting Australian war veterans and first responders. I am privileged to sit on the board of the charity and it’s been amazing being able to bring the creative community together to get behind a great cause and help them create their first ever television commercial to generate the awareness of the important work they do.

December 10, 2019

Feature

In Focus: By The Booth on creating vibrant motion graphics

Our next In Focus interview features By The Booth, the Canadian video design agency that merges driven motion graphics and expertly produced live action creative for the world’s best-known brands, agencies and organizations who value the power of creativity to connect and moves us to feel and act.

Here’s what we asked their team: 

What creative elements go into encompassing the vibes of a season, likein the “Scan Your Coca-Cola, Unlock Summer?”

I think the feeling of a season comes from personal memories and experiences. Being from Canada, we appreciate the summer as it only sticks around for a few months. There is no day wasted inside during the season. Summer means swimming, creating memories at the cottage, drive in movies with the windows down, patio drinks and beach days with friends! 

Translating this vibe was a welcome challenge for the team. We did a great deal of experimentation with the graphic style as well as animation tests to get the vibe just right. Not only were we capturing summer but we were creating this vibe for an iconic brand and needed to design a summer feel unique to Coca-Cola. After the main visual story was established we looked at opportunities to enhance the feeling using custom designed graphic elements representing the summer prizes. Our creative approach for this spot was to use bold shapes and energetic motion that reminded us of summer. We wanted to connect all these moments to feel like one exciting experience so we used the graphic elements to transition from scene to scene creating one long summer day. 

What are the essential elements to having a successful creative team?

Our creative team is unique in that it’s made up of a core internal production, copywriting and creative direction team. For large projects we enhance our foundation with illustrators, designers, animators colourists ect… to add creative expertise. On the production for Coca-Cola our team expanded to include artists from Toronto and Brazil. 

I think our success comes from creating a clear vision as a team before we jump into a production while leaving room for the freedom to experiment with solutions and challenge past decisions as we move through the production.

Who else in Canada is creating work that inspires you?

There are a hand full of big name studios here creating great work but I find my inspiration comes from the dedication and enormous creative power of the freelance artists we work with. We love the work of Pablo Lozano and Arm Sattavorn as well as Emilie Muszczak just to new a few. 

What do these wins mean for you and your team?

This recognition creates a moment for our team to pause, reflect and celebrate what our combined expertise, talent, dedication and energy can accomplish. Creative like this is really a team effort and this is a great moment to celebrate the team work that makes the dream work!

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2019

Feature

Where in the World is the Gold Telly? WeTransfer in Amsterdam + LA

The Telly Awards receives entries from all over the world – Australia, Malaysia, The Netherlands, the UK and beyond! This means Telly Winners are creating work from every continent and our top accolade, The Gold Telly, is sitting on shelves and award cases all across the globe. 

For this season, each month we will bring you a spotlight on a company that has won our highest award to answer the question: Where in the World is the Gold Telly

First in this series, is file-sharing company and champion of creativity, WeTransfer. We sat down with Jamal Dauda, the Global Head of Music at WeTransfer

Jamal joined WeTransfer in 2017 and has led projects with some of the world’s most interesting, innovative and influential artists, including Björk, John Legend, FKA twigs, King Krule, the Gorillaz, Lykke Li and Fleet Foxes.  Jamal understands how musicians can help brands create meaningful relationships with people, and specializes in creating genuine collaborations that protect the artists’ integrity and authenticity. These partnerships – from short films to live shows – are hugely popular with the audience and highly-prized by the artists. He can be found on twitter @djkidlightning 

What does your day to day look like in the midst of your creative process?



The most exciting part about my creative process is that it never really looks the same. There are these ever changing cycles that we move through. Sometimes it’s about being a sponge and just taking in as much art and culture as possible, as inspiration can come from anywhere. Other times, it’s about working collaboratively with artists and their teams to try mold a project and figure out how best to execute it. Usually, it’s some combination of all of the above.

Where do you/where does your team gather inspiration?





From everywhere and from each other! We’ve found ideas and inspiration in every corner of the world you could imagine. A great book, an inspiring film, an enlightening conversation.

It’s also an amazing privilege to work with such a diverse team that have wide and expansive interests and tastes that allow us to learn from each other every day.

What does this gold Telly win around mean to the team?



We’re a team that finds a lot of genuine joy in getting to tell the stories we’re passionate about and bring some beautiful things into the world. Any recognition, acknowledgement, or award around that is a lovely added bonus.

Your winning content is surrounding creativity in others – how do you balance this with your own team’s creativity in producing the video?



We’ve always believed in letting the creatives we highlight lead the way. Our job as creatives is to augment and amplify their vision wherever possible. At its best, it’s a fairly egoless process and we find balance in being meaningful partners whenever possible and are there to help guide the flow of it all more than anything.

Who else in the US is creating work that inspires you?



In the brand world, I’m generally in awe of the work that Vans has been doing on the event and storytelling side of things. The emergence of Playboy as a really opinionated and inclusive voice in 2019 has been a real revelation and I’m excited to see where they head. Musically, I’m always really inspired by the ambition of artists such as Solange, Angel Olsen, and other American boundary pushers that aren’t willing to settle on their creativity and are always thinking about how to move things forward and present their work in new and exciting ways.

Have work that you are proud of? Enter today across Branded ContentCommercials & MarketingImmersive & Mixed RealityNon-BroadcastSeries/Shows/Segments, and Social Video.

Feature

In Focus: Jack Nimble Australia on creating video for social platforms

We spent the summer talking to Telly Award winners from around the globe, hearing from award-winning companies that create inspiring video and television work from all four corners of the world.

First up is Jack Nimble – a creative production agency based in Australia focused on creating fast-craft social media content including live action, stop-motion, GIFs, and animation. Jack Nimble is a team of short-form storytellers that develop ideas that are made for social, and create content with the platforms front of mind.

Here’s what we asked them!

How does your creative process change when you’re creating content to be used in a specific social media context, such as Instagram Stories?

At Jack Nimble we think social first with all of our ideas. But each channel certainly requires its own approach. Just like radio and television are very different broadcast channels, Facebook and Instagram are very different social media channels.
With Instagram Stories, one of the first things we think about is how we’re going to use the vertical frame. There’s nothing worse than seeing a landscape video in an Instagram Story. We shot our ‘Gumtree – Tap to Furnish’ campaign in a way where we could style the rooms perfectly to work in that 9:16 frame, prioritizing a sense of height. We also framed the shots so that we left ample space for the ‘Swipe Up’ button at the bottom of the screen and the profile information at the top of the screen. It’s the little things like this that need to be thought about in advance to give the content the best chance at being successful.
Another aspect we always consider is the way in which people use the platforms. With Instagram Stories, users can tap the screen to see the next story, so we wanted to ’gamify’ this experience for users in our ‘Gumtree – Tap to Furnish’ campaign. We wanted to make people feel like when they tapped the Story they were pressing a button that activated the stop motion. So, our first Story encouraged users to ‘Tap to Furnish’. When pressed, it skipped to the next Story, which showed the ’tap’ button being pressed and the stop motion coming to life.

How do you feel that intertwining elements of entertainment or humor affect consumerism, such as with your eBay video?

Comedy is king on social media. Think about the types of content you tag your friends in — it’s usually stuff that makes you laugh. So if a brand can make consumers laugh with their content, they’re making a strong connection.
But making people laugh is easier said than done. Comedy is very subjective. You’re always going to get haters. But as long as you’re factoring in your target audience and finding an insight that’s relatable to them, you’ll generally come out on top.
With our ‘eBay realistic furniture ads’, we landed on an insight that spoke to millennial females. Basically, we noticed that almost every furniture ad featured women wearing ball gowns and heels. When in reality, no one looks that glamorous when sitting on their couch at home. And this is what struck a chord with our target audience. By pointing that out and having a laugh at it, eBay made a connection with its target audience.

Who else in Australia is creating work that inspires you?

There’s a lot of cool work coming out of Australia. We’re fortunate to have a business where we can regularly collaborate with all kinds of creators from photographers, to DOPs, directors, comedians, illustrators, to stop motion animators. Here are a few that come to mind:

@mattcherub – an incredible photographer, who’s regularly traveling across the globe for tourism bodies. We travelled across Australia with him to shoot a bunch of content for Virgin Australia.

@yelldesign – an amazing papercraft stop motion studio out of Melbourne that we’ve been lucky enough to work with a few times.

@imprettyricky – an awesome director living in Melbourne. He’s made a visual effects videos that have gone viral across the globe. We were lucky enough to work with him on a lightning strike trick video that went viral in Australia for a client of ours. He’s currently in pre-production on a feature film called Punk starring Cara Delevingne and Vince Staples.

@betootaadvocate – these guys are hilarious and an absolute comedy staple in Australia. We’re yet to work with them, but they’re a constant source of inspiration for us with all of our comedy work.

Andrew Goldsmith – stop motion genius based in Melbourne. He’s so good he’s even been shortlisted for an Oscar with his short film ‘Lost & Found’.

What do these wins mean for you and your team?

These are our first awards wins for Jack Nimble so they’ll always mean a lot to us. It’s great to be recognized for the hard work that went into these campaigns and our constant strive to make engaging social-first content!

May 21, 2019

Feature

CBS Interactive: Telly Company of The Year 2019

The Telly Awards is thrilled to honor CBS Interactive as the first-ever Telly Company of the Year! The Telly Company of the Year Award recognizes the company that has proven to have the most success during this year’s competition across Gold, Silver, and Bronze. 

CBS Interactive’s award recognizes years of achievement across platforms, including video content from its many properties like Chowhound, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and CNET.  Their commitment to creating great work, online and off, truly embodies the full breadth of platforms and screens The Telly Awards honors.

Founded in 2008, CBS Interactive is the premier online content network for information and entertainment. Its brands dive deep into the things people care about across entertainment, tech, news, games, business and sports. 

Congratulations again to the entire team! 

May 15, 2019

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In Focus: Ryan Brown, SVP and Partner, Creative and Brand Strategy, FleishmanHillard

This past month, we sat down with Ryan Brown, SVP and Partner, Creative and Brand Strategy at FleishmanHillarda global communications agency specializing in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy.

We took this opportunity to ask him about his journey from advertising executive to digital marketing & PR, the role that video has had across this and on the agency’s role in creating a unique piece for AT&T during the latest eclipse!

What is your day-to-day like as the SVP and Partner, Creative and Brand Strategy?

Quite literally most days are a blank canvas. Not that there aren’t full schedules, but what makes the role most exciting is how nebulous it can be. One minute I’m digging through brainstorm notes or color picking the palette for a logo, the next I’m interviewing a client discussing a challenge and a trend report attempting to translate both into an approach and creative brief. And that’s what I love about it… Somewhere between planning, creative and our innovation practices, we’ve established creative strategists as connectors between these necessary disciplines, in a time when they can no longer connect to one another in a linear way if you want your work to be relevant. For instance, social media comments posted to a funny meme GIF kicked out by the creative team, can spark brand analysis and a plot to capitalize on privacy trends by, say, building an app on Ethereum. Just as easily, novel tech or rigorous strategy on top of sound research leads the cycle of creativity. You never know! But it means on any given day, I’m power-using internet search, social news feeds and messaging apps, while running (not walking) to person-to-person or between meetings and spending almost all other time in the pages of PowerPoint where I’ve become weirdly proud of my skills.

What key insights/expertise/approaches have translated from your prior experience within ad agencies to your current work within a PR & Digital Marketing agency?

All of them I think. In fact, I often hear specifically within this industry, daily affirmations of identity that PR and our Digital Marketing practices are all about “earned” recognition, whether in media, social media or by word-of-mouth. This is always uttered by folks who have lived whole careers in PR not realizing EVERYONE shares this mantra, and journalism and media has changed such that all agencies offer a PR capability. It’s the way of the world for everyone—and it’s been that way for a very long time. Whether you’re at an “ad agency,” “digital agency,” “social agency” or even “in-house agency,” the big goal and driving mechanics behind it are to do something so innovative, topical, insight-driven or simply culturally relevant that the act and artifacts drive buzz.

The hardest part is realizing how to work across partner agencies when everything is PR and PR is everything. This is the risk of the agency services model… We need to embrace the co-dependencies between agencies and overcome natural incentives that prevent cooperation for the benefit of an efficient, buzzworthy, loyalty-built customer experience. From my roots in digital design, technology and UX, I share an interpretation of “Customer Experience” that includes PR and everything in the marketing mix too, placing a premium on integrated efforts that lead to brand citizenship. To me, impacting the volume and voice of this citizenship is the holy grail of PR, and done right it’s both direct-to-consumer, and praised via media.

Last thought to answer your question, UX and design thinking have convinced me that an agile creative process—like true Silicon Valley scrum master-style stuff—is the best approach to great work, and the only way to move at the speed of culture. So, at FleishmanHillard, we’ve been tearing down the typical linear or waterfall approach to client service and adapting “sprints” to ideation, content creation and measurement. It’s working! (and creates an avenue for that joint collaboration too).

From your experience, how has the relationship to video evolved within your client’s advertising, pr and marketing strategies?

The unsaid mandatory of every creative brief, is that there will be a video. It has become the traffic-able asset of choice, able to serve most purposes. It is also an asset that keeps on giving, like bubble gum with flavor that can last years if you get creative with how it’s used—cut downs, still photography, social gifs, b-roll for other videos, reels, case studies.

There’s an art of distribution every agency uses to ensure a video meets a goal, but in our world, the video’s goal is everything from a concept litmus test trialed on social media, to a visual asset that augments a journalist’s story, a localized stunt able to have a global impact, to an educational explainer of difficult concepts. This priority on video has transformed how we ideate PR, and who in the room is able to extend their imagination from media kits and desk sides, to how the video looks or how the case study will play. A visit to the PR Lions competition at Cannes, proves the video requisite over and over, and that the magic number is no longer gross impressions—thank god—but actually video plays and complete views too. Save a trip to France, a hangover and a year of suspense and instead go see the best PR video happening in real-time at activationideas.com, my go-to bookmark.

This year, FleishmanHillard entered work created with AT&T and centered around the solar eclipse of 2018. Tell us about how this project came about.

We’ve worked with and across the AT&T enterprise for a very long time and have benefitted from incredible access and sharing in the AT&T story. One such story is the effort AT&T is putting into a vision of technology and communication progress that doesn’t leave anyone behind, no matter their challenge – from poverty, to age, to disability.

The real ask from the solar eclipse work was originally to showcase how AT&T bolstered its coast-to-coast network to handle the anticipated and unprecedented traffic demand of eclipse gazers, surging to typically remote parts of the country. Our insight into their business clicked when we first saw news outlets forecasting the eclipse as a “North American phenomenon for all to see.” Our question became, “Can everyone really see it? And if not, how is AT&T helping?” That kicked us into video mode and on a mission to tell the story of a technology we witnessed months before, in an AT&T Foundry that was made possible by the AT&T network.

We put the amazing technology to use by documenting Nashville, Tenn., resident James Boehm who, with the help of AT&T and a company called Aira, was able to experience an eclipse for the first time since becoming totally blind. James became the human-interest story at the center of AT&T’s eclipse presence, a face to the technology and an inspirational representative of a greater AT&T story — one bigger than satellite trucks or a coast-to-coast network and possibly even the supernatural phenomenon itself.

March 12, 2019

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Gold Winner Story: Made to Measure

A Q&A with Telly Award Gold Winner Made to Measure

What was the motivation behind your project Slender Bodies?

Very simple: Prince and Bowie were our heroes. Having them pass so heartbreakingly close to one another, we were looking to make an homage to their legacies through nods to their outfits, worn by fans in everyday situations. It’s a celebration on what they’ve left from a fashion perspective.


How did you balance creating a film that both played homage to Bowie and Prince while retaining an original style?

Prince and Bowie both came from normal places, and despite all their “far-out” inventiveness, they never lost a sense of being oddly down to earth. There are photos of both at the start of their careers hanging around South London or Downtown Minneapolis, and you can see flickers of the stars they would become, but there is this essential connection between their personalities. It was the link we knew we could use to bring them together with an aesthetic to keep the look of the film unified, using their iconic outfits to define their sections within.

What was your greatest challenge when working on this? How did you overcome it?

It’s boring and logistical! A lot of locations means a lot of travelling, and fitting that in a tiny time frame is a nightmare. I’m still not quite sure how we did it, maybe blind perseverance?


You won a Gold Telly this year for Slender Bodies—congratulations! What does this win mean for your team?

It’s amazing. As stated above, you work hard on these things and it’s incredibly nice to be able to thank everyone who helped along the way with a sense that people enjoyed watching what you dragged them around to make! There’s also the feeling that it’s nice to celebrate our heroes in way that’s connected.

February 11, 2019

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Gold Winner Story: New Reality Co.

A Q&A with Telly Award Gold Winner New Reality Co.

Winslow Porter, Co-Founder & Director at New Reality Co.

What were you trying to accomplish with Tree? How did the idea come about?

With Tree, we wanted to focus on climate change, and how humans treat the Earth. Our goal was to shift the perspective of this topic, while making it personal for people. We thought that VR would be the perfect medium to let the audience embody nature, and in this case, a tree. In order to really start to understand what happens in rainforests, we wanted people to live the entire life cycle of a tree, starting as a seed underground, growing and thriving in the forest until they are the tallest tree in the Amazon. The viewer is accompanied by the musical composition comprised of the sounds of nature around them, created by the wonderful composer Aleksandar Protic. After spending time exploring the beauty of the rainforest, we’re confronted by humans who come in and take all of this wonder away. Viewers can understand deforestation in a more personal way, and realize the reality of what is happening to rainforests all across the globe.

What’s most important when it comes to getting a VR project like Tree right?

There is a lot that goes into creating an experience with many moving pieces, so it was very important to find the perfect team of creators and experts to help us make Tree. We were incredibly lucky to work with companies like Rewind, KonVRge, and Milk VFX on the game development and visual effects, alongside our brilliant art director Jakob Kudsk Steensen.

In order to create a fully immersive and multi-sensory experience, we worked with a team of tactile technologists from MIT Media labs on incorporating haptics to really make the viewer feel they have become a tree. All of those pieces together, including the amazing final sound mix by Scott Gershin, created a full environment for telling the story. In order to make sure it was accurate interpretation of a rainforest, our partners at the Rainforest Alliance paired us with scientists and biologists while crafting the ecosystem. All of this, in addition to the huge support from Here be Dragons, Droga5, Fondazione Pianoterra Onlus, Chicken and Egg, the Fledgling Fund and H.W. Buffalo & Co helped us bring this message to life.

What’s the greatest challenge when creating “new realities” through VR?

We wanted to create a fully immersive experience in Tree, and the biggest challenge was figuring out how to make the space feel fully four-dimensional. We decided to carefully combine elements such as wind, vibrations, scent, spacial audio, and change of temperature to accompany the visuals of the piece and create a living, breathing world. Growing in the beginning of the piece feels visceral. There’s a lot of natural beauty and splendor in the interactions the viewer can have with the various plants and animals in the forest by smelling the dirt underground, hearing the jaguar on a branch, and feeling the wind.

Congratulations on being among the first Gold Telly Winners! What does this win mean for the team?

Thank you! We’re so humbled and honored to have received these awards. It gives us confirmation that the work we are doing is needed in our current culture. It is the inspiration to keep going and to continue exploring new territories of immersive storytelling.

January 7, 2019

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Gold Winner Story: WeTransfer

A Q&A with Telly Award Gold Winner WeTransfer

Stephen Canfield, VP of Marketing

How did you come up with the storylines that propel The Bunt Machine?

Everything in the Bunt Machine is true; from the creative spark in Oregon to the shot on opening night. Telling the story as it happened gave us the opportunity to show the evolution of an idea organically, in all of its unpredictable glory. The creative process is often depicted as ordered and polished in spots like this, but from our experience it moves a lot more like a pinball than it does a line of dominos. We wanted to tell a story that showed just that.

What was the most exciting part about creating this project; whether the subject matter, the actors, the technology used, etc.?

The underlying project was a labor of love for Mac, and beneath it is a story about family, creativity, and what can come of a crazy idea. Collaborating with Mac was a pleasure, and we’re humbled he came together with us to tell the story.

What have you found is key to making successful branded content?

First and foremost, good branded content needs to be good content, with the same standard of quality you’d expect from anything you’d enjoy watching yourself. With that in mind, it comes to collaborating with the right people to tell a relevant story, and trusting them to tell it. Too often brands cross that dangerous line of interfering in an artist’s work vs supporting it. The key for us is always being on the right side of that line.

Congratulations on your Gold Telly Win for The Bunt Machine! What does this recognition mean to your team?

We see our role as an opportunity to use our reach to support the artist community, which is why we give 30% of the advertising on our site to creatives, feature their stories on WePresent, and make things like this. This recognition means a lot to us because it means the spot was seen and felt in the way we hoped it would be when we had our first conversation with Mac. We never doubted he’d tell the story in a compelling way, so it was our job to make sure it got made and made it to the masses.

 

December 10, 2018

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Gold Winner Story: Novo Films

A Q&A with Telly Award Gold Winner Novo Films

Lindsay Branham, Founder at Novo Films

How did you decide on the subject matter for The Deep Place?

A human rights organized called International Justice Mission that works to eradicate slavery worldwide contacted us to make a film about their work. They had been working for a number of years with the Ghanian law enforcement to apprehend perpetrators of slavery and rescue and return children to their families. Lake Volta is host to one of the largest incidences of child slavery in the world. The Deep Place is based on the true story and life of a boy named Foli who became enslaved in the fishing industry on the lake as a 12 year old boy, and his journey to freedom.

What was the most challenging aspect of filming or editing this piece?

We worked with first-time actors, shooting most of the film on Lake Volta in very intense and unstable conditions. A combination of underwater and overwater scenes, child actors and the unpredictability of our shooting locations made this extremely challenging. However, beyond the logistical challenges, the most important challenge was adhering to, honoring and properly representing the story of Foli. This required hours and hours of pouring over his interviews and then writing scenes and shooting them in a way that best represented what happened in his life, and stayed true to the spirit of his journey. We took this very seriously.

What surprised you about the project outcome, or the technical elements of creating it, that you didn’t expect going into it?

This was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The absolute honour to work with the talent we had in Ghana, both the actors and the Ghanaian casting director, Mawuko Kuadzi, brought a sense of family and community to this production that was so beautiful to be a part of. We did not expect to walk away from this shoot with friends for a lifetime and are so proud of the final film as it really is a labor of love from so many people who gave their all to this project.

The Deep Place won the Gold Telly this year. Congratulations! What does this win mean to you? How does it help your work?

We are so grateful to be recognized in this capacity! It is wonderful to be able to highlight the craft and excellence of the film but more importantly the content. The award is really helpful for our non-profit partner IJM to draw attention to the film and therefore their incredible work eradicating slavery. Thank you!

July 9, 2018

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In Focus: PwC on distribution, video strategy and animation as a communication tool

For this months In Focus edition, we sat down with Alexander Zuver, Director, Creative Video at PwC to discuss how he has seen the role of video evolve over his nearly 20 years at the firm.

As one of the leading professional services firms in the world, how does video interplay with the day-to-day business objectives of PwC and its clients? And why is video such a robust medium through which to convey these key objectives?

Video has the capacity to be a tremendously important medium in any organization, but at PwC, video is an essential way to tell stories and communicate complex ideas in a simple, clear, and repeatable way. In the past, video was used as a supplement to print material. Today, it’s the reverse. We’re digital first and, more than ever, video first.

With the adoption of digital media and video in particular, the challenge has been in determining how stakeholders—both inside and outside the firm—prefer to receive the information we’re trying to convey, and there’s no one way. That means we’ve done as much work producing video as we have optimizing that video’s distribution. In some cases, that means using e-mail. In others, it means leveraging tools that are sort of corporatized versions of Facebook and Twitter. In others still, it’s distributing through YouTube, or leveraging live broadcasts, which have taken an enormous leap forward in recent years. We know that what we do is most powerful when we’re reaching the largest number of eyes.

What distribution networks do you see most success with?

In our personal lives, this is the age of social media, and as much is true within our firm structure where social media has already proven to be an immensely powerful tool. A big part of the calculus within our PwC video team, then, is determining how we can make the most of existing social platforms, while building our own internal platforms that service business or information-sharing needs that are unique to our ecosystem. It’s a real marriage of technical and strategic innovation, and each has to march hand-in-hand if we’re to achieve the holy grail: engagement.  

Animation has often played an important role in the work produced by PwC. Why do you think animation is so compelling across the industries you work with?

Every time we create a video, we’re battling against two distinct but related headwinds: making something that’s intrinsically useful to our staff and clients—our viewers—and, second, making sure those viewers actually watch it. Animation helps us address each issue.

We tend to deal in technical information that can be very dense if not packaged properly, and animation—which allows us to utilize everything from infographics to motion capture technology—provides viewers with a digestible foothold. Of course, that foothold doesn’t mean much unless they’re tuning in, and staying tuned in. In that regard, animation has equipped us with the ability to capture viewers’ attention quickly—within the first few seconds—of a video, and then retain them with stimulating visuals and messaging that doesn’t require sound to glean essential information.

Oh, and when it comes to maximizing engagement, we’ve found that shorter is almost always better.

You’ve been with the firm for a number of years and held various positions within the multimedia and video teams at the company. How has the role, importance and ubiquity of video evolved in that time?

When I first started with the firm, videos were things you rented at Blockbuster. I mean, using that medium to communicate ideas and information within the workplace was just not on the table. As such, my early years with PwC were spent building out our capabilities in print: presentations and proposals. I remember when Flash started taking off, the real connection between technology and creativity dawned on me. My career took a big leap forward with Flash. Then, it went away, and multimedia really gave way to the video business, but it wasn’t overnight.

Over the years, and with the support and trust of thought leaders from all over PwC, we’ve gone from printing flyers to a 360-multimedia approach. I mean, we’re streaming in 4K and experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). That evolution never would’ve been possible without a prolonged investment into our video team not just as a resource, but as an intrinsic part of the firm’s success in this information revolution.

You’ve referred to yourself and your team as “intrapreneurs.” What does that mean?

I heard the term “intrapreneur” on the radio, and I thought it was great. In our case, it means we’re an in-house business unit that has the capacity to be, and is encouraged to be, creative and forward-thinking in a way that’s usually most associated with folks who run their own shops or, at the very least, aren’t part of a large organization like PwC. The fact that we’re allowed to function as intrapreneurs is why I’ve been with the same company since 1997. The people I’ve worked with and for at the firm have always looked to bring the most creative ideas forward, and have supported me and my team to be at the cutting edge.

Today, we’re a highly responsive and adaptable in-house agency, complete with a studio team, field producers, animators, and editors. We are the brand experts, we know our clients, and we know the landscape of the firm. Marketers and thought-leaders come to us first, instead of going to an outside agency. We’re the point of origin for all things creative at PwC.

Thanks to the firm’s forward-thinking, we’re allowed to be intrapreneurs, and I like to think that level of freedom and openness has resulted in a pioneering approach that will continue to evolve, because it’s allowed to.

What are you most excited for in 2018 in terms of video in your field?

I’m most excited about honing our video craft, and our approach to video. First, in terms of engagement, I’m excited to continue exploring new distribution technologies and determining how those speak to different viewers in different ways, while growing engagement among all viewers. We’ve found that a multi-platform approach is paramount to achieving content stickiness, and we must keep honing ours.

Second, I’m excited to continue working with our invaluable agency partners outside of PwC who allow us to scale at a rate that’s so important in this rapidly changing landscape.

Last, I think VR, AR, 3D, drones, and an enhanced concentration on livestreaming will provide us with game-changing tools for reaching our audience. Our challenge in that realm is determining how to make the best use of those tools, about being strategic in how we deploy them. For instance, a traditional interview isn’t something we need to watch in virtual reality, while the impact of a docu-segment on a day in the life of a PwC employee might be elevated into a different orbit because of that very same technology.