Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I am a Creative Director at RPA in Los Angeles, California. I work on La-Z-Boy, TikTok, Southwest Airlines, and Los Angeles LGBT Center, among others. I am Canadian. I love the Toronto Raptors #NBAChamps. I love my dog Jersey.
How has the shift towards more responsible or politically correct advertising impacted your work?
One of the most powerful things about creating socially conscious work is that it forces us (the creators of the work) to hold ourselves accountable. Firstly, it’s important to be conscious of how you think about the work you create. Socially conscious thinking during the ideation, casting, or hiring process proves that advertising can be advocacy. The very act of creating, writing, or art directing allows us to become allies or supporters of underrepresented groups. Secondly, we have to be hyperaware of the way the work is made. Yes, we are making work that stands for something, but it’s important to be conscious of how we go about creating that work. The medium is the message #MarshallMcLuhan. For example, if you’re shooting a video with an environmental sustainability message but have single-use water bottles on set for 4 days with a crew of 75 people, the work’s message is undercut by the way you’re bringing it to life. Overall, I believe the act of making responsible work is making us more responsible creators, thinkers and businesspeople.
Can you give some examples of clients that have adopted a responsible approach? How have they used creative to help spread their message?
Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign (launched in 2004) showed other brands that taking responsibility around authenticity can be effective for business and connect with consumers. “Like A Girl” by Always is a great example of work that made quantifiable change in behavior and perception, while also driving business. In 2018 our client Honda used VR to create a one-of-a-kind winter wonderland in "The Magic Snow Globe," an interactive world personalized for patients at the Children's Hospital of Orange County. The project showed how a brand can create social good using technology that drives brand awareness.
Do you believe advertising for good helps to develop a deeper bond with the consumer?
Customers are expecting more from their brands and companies; they are looking to see themselves and the things they care about in our advertising. They are also wanting to support causes through their purchases—we vote with our dollars. Even more so with the next generation—RPA found in our Identity Shifters study that Gen Z is non-confrontational as well as deeply opinionated on social issues, so they really gravitate toward brands taking the megaphone for them. Nike gets that. Their 30th anniversary Kaepernick spot, embracing him as the face of believing in something, “even if it means sacrificing everything.” Nike got a lot of backlash. But in doing so, they allowed Gen Z to feel like they had a mouthpiece, while being protected from the firestorm. Nike is the top apparel brand among Z. Brands that stand up so Gen Z can stand behind them will have lifelong fans.
Are there any specific causes your agency as a whole or you yourself hold near and dear? Tell us about them.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center holds a special place in RPA’s (and my) heart. The work the Center does for the community is powerful, important and life-changing. This year marks their 50th anniversary.
They were the first building in American to have the word “gay” on signage. Their legacy is one of hope, positivity and change. We are beyond proud to call them our partners.
As we move towards more socially conscious advertising, are there any campaigns from the past that you think simply wouldn’t be able to get made today?
I would say a good bulk of our industry’s work from the past wouldn’t get made today. But this aired during the Super Bowl 4 years ago, so what do I know?
Is there a specific campaign for a good cause you worked on that you’re most proud of? Or a favorite campaign from another agency.
The National Coming Out Day work RPA just launched for the Los Angeles LGBT Center is something we’re really proud of. A great team of creators and thinkers, including Station Films & director Lena Beug, donated their time, energy, love and effort to making this idea come to life. Plus, it uses a cover of one of the greatest songs ever written: Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do with it?”.