Firstborn has named JoonYong Park chief creative officer. In his new role, Park will oversee all the agency's creative duties and manage a growing team of designers, developers, programmers and technicians. He will also be in charge of expanding the agency's creative department according to the industry's shifting demands in digital and new technologies. Park joined the agency as a senior art director in 2004 and has been the agency's creative director for the last three years, working on projects like Lowe's "Welcome Back Spring," Microsoft Live "Operation Smile," Smirnoff's James Bond and Microsoft's Zune launch. His more recent projects include the just-launched JetBlue Experience and the Ford Mustang Community Customizer.
Park's promotion follows that of former Senior VP/Executive Director Dan LaCivita, who was named President last month. Both Park and LaCivita join Firstborn Founder Michael Ferdman to make up the agency's senior management team. The complimentary appointments are part of the agency's strategy to create room for more top level creative and strategy roles within the agency.
Prior to Firstborn, the Korea-born Park was head of interactive branding at Seoul-based Nutility and creative director at the Orion Group BNM, with past credits that include the "Samsung and The Matrix" campaign.
Creativity talked to Park about his plans for the new post and all the recent shifts at Firstborn.
So, tell us about what your goals are for this new post. You've talked about being a bridge between design/3D/production departments of the agency.
There are all different types of "creatives" at a digital agency—so many different types of minds fusing together to create one unbelievable experience. At Firstborn we really believe every person here is creative—not just the design team. In this new position I will be able to oversee, in a sense, the process by which the thoughts all come together cohesively—to help be sure every single person plays the perfect part in the creative process. I want to make sure our developers and designers are always collaborating as early as possible and that we bring in any latest R&D developments to the table to help push innovation.
Can you discuss the changes that have been going on department-wise at Firstborn, and how your new position will fit into that?
With the growth of both our 3D and video departments, (over 15 people just dedicated to this area) I will be working to create systems that streamline internal workflow and also push these teams to work together to create content alongside designers and developers so things that have been traditionally linear and passive mediums (like video to some degree) can be made more interactive and experiential. That is my goal.
In terms of our own creative growth, it's taking on a great pace, always keeping up with new technology, always looking for the next best way to make ideas and art come to life. We are investing a lot of time and talent into our video and 3D/motion departments, as well as our R&D practice. We are always working to develop ideas and digital executions that transcend the web— creating content and experiences cross-platform that tie into the overall digital strategy. These are areas of big growth for us. In my own position I will help streamline this creative process, from ideation, to production, to launch.
Tell us about the creative department itself. Firstborn has made a number of promotions recently. How is the department structured now in terms of the talent mix, and where do you hope to see it go in the future?
Even though I am helping to lead all the creative initiatives of the company, I still work closely with Michael Ferdman, our founder. We always make sure our business goals and creative goals are in sync and we are taking Firstborn in the direction we want it to head. I probably work closest with Dan LaCivita, our President. We have worked for over six years together and he is a big part of the creative ideation that goes into our work. Francis Turmel, our Director of Technology, has done an unbelievable job at building our amazing team of developers and technologists. I really think at this time our development team is stronger than it has ever been. Technology is a huge part of the equation for us, so this is incredibly important—to have a creative design and creative technology team working so closely together with good leadership.
We recently promoted Aaron Pollick to ACD, so Aaron and Dave Snyder, our other ACD, help me lead the team of designers. So I lean a lot on Dave and Aaron to help kick off our projects with teams of Art Directors and designers working alongside them.
In the future, we want to build out a few areas of our company. Of course our 3D and video department as I mentioned, but we are doing a lot more work with creating campaigns that really touch the retail consumer experience as well. With this, our goal would be to help influence and innovate at the product level—allowing the marketing and advertising to be tied as closely as possible to the actual product. So who knows what kind of new talent that may lead to? It is really exciting stuff for us.
What are you working on right now?
We have a mix of both agency clients and direct clients, and that balance is very important to us. There are a number of exciting projects on both fronts that will be launching in the next four to six weeks. The experiences we are creating right now are both living on the "web" but also touching in-store, mobile and other digital components. We have already created a few internal iPad pieces for R&D purposes and our teams are experimenting with a lot of ways we can integrate our clients actual product, or service, directly into the digital experience.
What are you most excited about with regards to the job?
Right now is a pretty exciting time—in the industry as a whole and for Firstborn. It has been a lot of fun to watch us grow slowly but steadily into the almost 60 person company we are today; to be a part of that process has been pretty amazing. And a big part of me feels like we are just getting started in some ways. Having the ability to help shape the growth of our company going into the future is going to be a lot of fun...and a lot of work!
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