SoCal agency 72andSunny had a breakout year, turning out more NSFW laughs with Kenny Powers for K-Swiss, a viral hit and Super Bowl spot spoofing Apple enthusiasts for Samsung, a controversial Cannes Grand Prix winning "Unhate" campaign for Benetton featuring lip-locked world leaders, and a slew of spectacular work for Activision, including a high-octane action comedy thriller starring Sam Worthington and Jonah Hill.
The latter was under the patronage of Eric Hirshberg, the former Deutsch CCO who made the bold leap into the gaming world in 2010, taking on the role of CEO of Activision. Under his watch the videogame publisher's "Call of Duty" franchise broke gaming records, with "Black Ops" hitting the $1 billion sales mark in just over two weeks. Meanwhile, the more kid-friendly "Skylanders" boosted company sales while popularizing a gaming paradigm that merges digital content with real-world collectability--those looking to find the game's characters should probably skip the stores and head straight eBay. Much of this, can be credited to the creativity he's channeled into the C-suite, which you'll learn more about here, where we've asked the two 50 inductees to share what they learned from each other about the C-word.
Eric Hirshberg: Four things I've learned about Creativity from 72andSunny
1) Stretch for talent. The first (but certainly not the last) time 72andSunny really impressed me was the day John and Glenn tried to steal Matt Jarvis. I was the Co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Deutsch L.A. at the time, and Matt was our star account planner. He was that rare marketing athlete that had the whole package and I wasn't going to let him go lightly. We managed to keep him—that time. The second time 72andSunny really impressed me was a year later when they offered him a position as their partner running the agency, an opportunity even I knew he shouldn't pass up. I admired their taste and tenacity, but mostly, that they were willing to stretch to get the best talent. Now that I know them, not as competitors, but as their client at Activision, it's clear that their commitment to great people permeates their entire team.
2) The truth is un-ignorable 72andSunny has one of the best track records of doing work that raises eyebrows, but also raises their clients' sales. Not all companies have the courage (or self-awareness) to choose the truth as their communications strategy. The world didn't see K-Swiss as a "real" athletic shoe company. So instead of hiring a real athlete to endorse it, they chose the world's most loveable wannabe athlete. And the brand has never felt more authentic or aspirational. Their work for Samsung does not attempt to create their version of Apple's cult-like following. Instead they let great products and the absence of a cult-like following reveal Samsung as the smart alternative in smart phones. Their work presents clients in their best possible light, not by airbrushing out the blemishes, but instead by making us love them as they are.
3) End the tug of war. Most agencies seem like they're at war with themselves; like the right brain has too little respect for the left, and the left brain has too little faith in the right. There is usually one dominant side in this equation, and subsequently, the work is either brilliant but undisciplined, or disciplined but un-brilliant. A few agencies get the balance between these two naturally opposing forces right. But 72andSunny does something different. They reject the tug of war all together. They seem like hybrid people who each care deeply about both sides. The tug of war exists within individuals there, not between them.
4) Unhate. This is more than just their tagline for Benetton. It seems to be a way of life for 72andSunny. I have rarely worked with a more refreshingly un-cynical group of people. Being cynical, jaded and a "hater" have become the default settings inside most agencies. But being a hater is bad for the work. It may lead to detached irony, which can pass for creativity, but it will not make people fall in love. And people want to love the brands they buy. And that all starts with the people entrusted with advertising them.
See the rest of the 2012 Creativity 50 here.