RPA's Jason Sperling heads to Facebook Reality Labs
Jason Sperling, the longtime RPA leader who last served as the agency's senior VP, chief, creative development, is heading to Facebook to take on the role of executive creative director at Facebook Reality Labs, which comprises the brand’s team developing augmented and virtual reality technologies.
Sperling was the creative chief on all RPA’s creative for Honda North America, as well as a number of other global clients. Under his nearly 10-year watch, the agency delivered numerous notable campaigns for the auto brand, including the Super Bowl “Yearbook” ad that brought to life the high school photos of celebrities like Steve Carell, Viola Davis and Tina Fey; artful spots for the “Power of Dreams” campaign; and the celebrated “Project Drive-In,” which set out to save struggling drive-in theaters across the country (an idea that feels eerily relevant in today’s pandemic).
Along with Honda, he steered innovative pushes like the "Imaginary Friend Society" for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, a whimsical character-filled effort meant to provide children battling the disease with support as they received treatment. The campaign also included an AR app that allowed kids to call on their imaginary friends to be by their side.
Prior to RPA, he had worked at TBWA/Media Arts Lab and was one of the creative leads on the award-winning “Mac vs. PC” campaign for Apple.
For Sperling, joining Facebook Reality Labs “takes me back to my days on Apple, where we felt like we were involved in things that were changing the world, with the iPad and the iPhone. To go ‘back’ there felt like a really attractive proposition.”
Sperling arrives just as Facebook Oculus drops its new Oculus Quest 2 headsets and virtual reality has seen a boom during the pandemic. During the brand’s quarterly results call, Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said the the company’s “AR/VR strategy from a pure investment perspective is very clearly on the front burner,” with the success of the Quest so far having “reinforced that investment.”
“Even if there wasn’t a pandemic, this is tech that has been growing over the years and is waiting for its next big moment,” Sperling says. “The pandemic, those feelings of isolation, of being stuck and the difficulties of working remotely have only accelerated the need for connecting people across distances in a more intimate way.”
“We have some inspiring things on the horizon and looking forward to the impact Jason will have with his leadership and craft,” said Facebook Reality Labs Chief Creative Officer Josh Higgins in a statement.
"Jason has been my partner, friend and an appreciated member of the RPA team for the last ten years," says RPA's EVP and Chief Creative Officer Joe Baratelli. "I am very proud of the work we’ve done together. We’ll miss his dedication and enthusiasm to make all the work be the best it can be. And we wish him the very best in this next chapter of his career." As for what will become of Honda, Baratelli says, "We’re fortunate to have senior creative leadership that has a strong relationship with Honda at the ready to lead creative development moving forward."
On departing his long-time agency, Sperling says the move is bittersweet. “RPA is to me one of those anomalies where for so long we did amazing work and wonderful people and clients,” he says. “It was really just the moment where I needed to find that next challenge.”