Creative Under Quarantine: Opinionated's Mark Fitzloff gets a makeover and hits a new low
In our series Creative Under Quarantine, we’re asking agency and other creative execs to document their lives in isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic—the good, the bad, the frustrating, the funny and the mundane.
Previously, we featured We Believers' Gustavo Lauria, who shared moments of his life in isolation in both New York City and Buenos Aires, Argentina. This week, we have Mark Fitzloff, founder of Portland-based agency Opinionated, one of our Small Agency of the Year winners from 2019 which counts Seventh Generation and Adidas among its clients. Prior to founding the shop in 2017, he served as a top exec at Wieden+Kennedy.
Here, Fitzloff takes an anthropological view of his life in lockdown, journaling from the Oregon Territory about family rituals, the shelf-life of turkey loaf and what winning new business while sheltering in place really says about his company.
If you have a quarantine story to tell, get in touch with Ad Age’s Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz at [email protected].
QUARANTINE JOURNAL FROM THE OREGON TERRITORY: DAY 12
It rained considerably during the night. Bowie the dog who was on guard barked through the morning hours at some unseen threat. Bandits? Facing east, the overcast sky hides Mt. Hood from view. The thermometer shows 42 degrees.
6:45-7:15 AM I consult the morning news missives via Flipboard, Twitter and the Oregonian. Also the morning’s electronic post. News from the East, always the same: the virus continues unabated. No end in sight. Yet I take comfort as the brands assure us we are all in this together.
7:15-8:15 AM I am determined to maintain mental and physical fitness. I venture forth to the outer boundaries of the territory—the end of the driveway. Back and forth. Up the driveway, down the driveway. Neighbors from the adjacent settlement to the north happen by. A man and his wife. Also a dog. We exchange salutations from a safe distance.
8:15-9:00 AM The larder and pantry are well-stocked as the local mercantile Safeway remains fertile and still yields its bounty. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is how I break my fast.
9:00-10:00 AM Our enterprise comes together in a daily ritual called “status.” There is much collegial banter with so many friendly faces. Many in our group quarantine alone, so the familiarity is a welcome respite from the solitude. Others in the group use the status ritual as an opportunity to seek refuge from those they quarantine with, particularly children. While lively, little in the way of productivity occurs in status.
10:00-6:00 PM There is nothing to differentiate one hour from the next and I find myself sinking into dangerous reflection. I know the advertisements must get made, but why? Why must the advertisements get made? I am spared the answers as Rob [Palmer, executive creative director] reveals his latest virtual background. It’s Rob, in front of Rob from a previous zoom call! Hilarious. That Rob, always the prankster.
Lunch is whatever can be repurposed from the previous evening’s meal. This is a hard and fast rule of quarantine rationing and is strictly enforced. The turkeyloaf remains deliciously viable.
At half past 2, all able-bodied agency members are called to attention. An urgent hangout has been scheduled. Word has come from client senior management. “Does the social post feel a bit opportunistic? It’s not about us taking credit. It’s about celebrating the community.” A lively discussion ensues.
6:00-7:00 PM Courtney and I prepare the evening meal, while in the background a journalist from the eastern states regales us with true tales of heroism from the frontlines of the pandemic. He has tested positive and is quarantined in his basement, but he still wears makeup?
7:00-7:45 PM Dinner is served. The more youthful family members politely decline the prepared offering in favor of their own stock—a shelf-stable pasta dish with an accompanying pouch of dehydrated cheese that when boiled, creates a flavorful sauce. Their self-sacrifice, if truly sincere, is to be commended.
7:45-8:00 PM Dishes are done. Somehow, despite the tight quarters of quarantine, the youths are nowhere to be found.
8:00-9:00 PM The evening is enlivened with vocal stylings and instrumental music. Tonight’s selection: "Big Boy Diamonds" by Gucci Mane featuring Da Baby and Young Boy Never Broke Again. Spirits are lifted.
9:00-10:30 PM We enjoy a multitude of filmed amusements and reality-based escapades. Tales of the Tiger King are particularly enjoyed as we relate to his steadfast determination to protect his enterprise in the face of adversity. Also, "Homeland."
10:45 PM Lights out. We’ve got this.
QUARANTINE JOURNAL FROM THE OREGON TERRITORY: WEEKEND (?) EDITION
It is the weekend. I know this for the following reasons: 1) I drank tequila last night 2) It’s almost noon and the youths have not emerged from their bed chambers 3) No status.
The previous evening was particularly eventful as the agency celebrated its first quarantine new business victory. Is it possible we are actually more highly functioning apart than together? It is a troubling line of inquiry because, well, how sad would that be???
Also I participated in a “virtual happy hour.” This played out much like the status ritual only with friends from high school and tequila.
MOST OF SUNDAY Puzzles! I have hit a new low.
QUARANTINE JOURNAL FROM THE OREGON TERRITORY: DAY 47
9:13 AM I arrive late to the status ritual. Am I missed? No, I am not missed. I am not noticed. Video off, microphone muted. I am partially clothed. I am fully reclined.
10ish AM There are no more memes. The Scooby-Doo one about the mystery bad guy behind COVID turning out to be Zoom? It was the last of the memes. Now there is just “outside has gotten weird” photos of things that are weird outside. By my reckoning, creativity died on day 32.
Lunch Does anyone know how long turkeyloaf lasts in a fridge? Nobody knows.
2:45 PM A meeting has been called for half past 3. But where? The summons appears first on Slack, which leads to a calendar invite, which displays both a Zoom link AND a Google Hangout. A fork in the road. Which to choose? I select the Hangout. I have joined the meeting but I am the only one here. Curse the auto-generating Hangout function of Google Calendar!
7-7:45 PM We dare to venture forth. Word had spread of an establishment still offering sustenance to those brave enough to risk the journey. It is Chik-fil-A. Some things are worth the risk. We travel approximately six miles over the western hills and down into the Beaverton valley, along the Beaverton-Hillsdale highway. We come upon a once busy intersection and one of the youths remarks upon the emptiness of the landscape. “It’s just like Walking Dead.” Yes, Max. Just like that.
7:45-8:00 PM We have returned from our excursion! We feast upon the spiced and breaded spoils.
8:00-9:00 PM I have let myself go. My loving daughter has offered to apply a “makeover” to my face, brandishing an array of creams, powders and mascaras. I am transformed into a chanteuse, ready for my close-up.
9:00-10:30 PM Turns out the one they call the Tiger King? The one who has inspired us these many days to keep fighting for the survival of the agency? Well, let’s just say he was not worthy of our admiration. I drift off feeling hopeless. Our hero has fallen. Who will guide through the darkness?