2018 – The Year in (the Agency) Review

AgencyYearInReview_2018

Welcome to the seventh edition of The Year in (the Agency) Review!

First, thank you for reading. Not just us. Anything. The written word – long form, short form, books, blogs, magazines, whatever – is a powerful thing and we appreciate your help in keeping it alive. As do the authors, publications and publishers we work with.

And second, of course, thanks for reading us. Either regularly or periodically. And for subscribing.

And before we go any further, we need to acknowledge the passing of one of Advertising’s Legends, Jane Maas. Jane became a friend when we reviewed her terrific Mad Women in October of 2012, and then a good friend when we interviewed her in June of the following year. Her wit, insight, and class were rare in this business then, and are rarer still now, and she will be missed be all of us who appreciate good writing and smart thinking.

Now, we realize we’ve been a bit light on content this year. And we could make all kinds of excuses why, but the short answer is: 2018. I mean, really. There was a lot going on. And the truth is, sometimes even the things you like to do have to take a back seat to the things you have to do.

But The Year in (The Agency) Review isn’t just an annual opportunity to ask forgiveness for the previous year’s sins. It’s where we ask a bunch of smart people three simple questions:

What was the book you loved this year?

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?, and

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

As in the past, we were very fortunate to have some really great people take time out of their busy schedules to participate. Every year we are amazed when people we respect and admire are willing to answer our questions – so a big thanks to our contributors and please, support them however you can.

Okay, enough of all that. On to 2019.

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Leigh Baker

A strategic business leader, Leigh has more than 25 years of agency experience working with major global brands in London and New York. He recently served as EVP Managing Director for Publicis Groupe‘s digital agency ROAR. Prior to that Leigh had stints in the startup world with ex-Mother shop Van’s General Store, was Head of Account Management at TBWA Chiat Day NY, and ran Global Accounts for SapientNitro and Publicis Advertising. He has worked with and led assignments for Coca-Cola, Mars, Nestle, Accenture, JP Morgan Chase, Massage Envy and Pernod Ricard. Leigh joined Humble TV in September 2017 to launch the direct to brand content creation unit as Managing Director. He is currently consulting with brands.

What was the book you loved this year?

Definitely The Four by Scott Galloway.  Lucky to see him speak both in NY and Cannes and his deconstruction around how Apple, Amazon, FaceBook and Google are screwing us is quite brilliant.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

Digital Darwinism by Tom Goodwin.  I already bought this but seeing as Tom is a personal friend of mine I just haven’t been able to open it.  He is a smart fella so I know it’s in my interest to get past chapter one.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

A history of Tottenham Hotspur football kits and the inspiration behind the designs.  I’d look it that for hours.

Jonah Bloom

Jonah studied Geography at Oxford University, but began his career as a journalist, covering printing and paper, finance, accounting, consulting, media and marketing industries, in a period that culminated with an eight-year stint as editor-in-chief of Advertising Age. Having digitized that publication and covered the emergence of disruptive internet-based businesses, Jonah left Advertising Age to build a new wave of web-first publications and run Breaking Media, developing brands like Fashionista and DealBreaker which continue to thrive today.

In 2011 Jonah joined New York creative agency, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal. where he used his experience analyzing human behavior, culture and technology to devise business, brand and digital strategies for companies like Allstate, Apple, Belvedere, BMW, Goldman Sachs, Harman, HomeGoods, Intel, Stanley Black & Decker, Vanguard and Windstream.

Currently Jonah is a Partner at business accelerator Truth & Systems.

What was the book you loved this year?

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Like the TV show Black Mirror, the short stories in Friday Black conjure worlds so dystopian they should be unimaginable, yet often eerily similar to the one we’re living in. Protagonists include a young black man trying to make sense of a society in which white guys kill black kids without legal consequence; a recently-deceased high school shooter confronted by the ghost of the girl he just murdered; and a store associate who excels at selling PoleFace jackets to rabid shoppers who murder each other to get to the merch.

The writing is inventive and urgent, sometimes funny, sometimes tender and sometimes punches you in the stomach, and in itself is reason enough to read this book. But what I really loved was the way the author creates empathy for even the most flawed characters by showing the how they are the product of the shitty systems in which they’re stuck. It’s the kind of perspective we could use a lot more of today.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Godfrey Smith

It’s fascinating to me how much more other animals think and feel than most of us understand. (One of my favorite reads last year was Jim and Jamie Dutcher’s wonderful The Wisdom of Wolves.) We already know that octopuses make plans, use tools, store memories and have unique personalities. I’m excited to learn more about the evolution of their brains. They’re like the weird, genius aliens we’ve imagined in so much science fiction, but they’re here on earth and being served up with ancho chile sauce.

Awkward segue, but I’ve also started re-reading Kitchen Confidential, which I appreciate not only for Anthony Bourdain’s joie de vivre and attitude, but also for what it says about creating great experiences. We get obsessed with the potential for technology to enhance guest or customer experiences, but more often what really makes or breaks stores, restaurants, hotels, airlines and so on is the people who work there, the camaraderie that keeps them there and happy, and their ability and willingness to work together towards a common goal.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

I would like to see a compelling masterplan for taking on and beating Amazon, because I don’t believe that piling it high and selling it cheap, which generally means forcing merchants and manufacturers to constantly cut costs (AKA people’s salaries), is a sustainable way to grow the economy or preserve the planet. A government that’s beholden to business isn’t going to come to our aid, but maybe some of the emergent ‘do one thing well’ internet brands – Brooklinen, Rhone, Outdoor Voices, Bombas, and so on – are starting to provide a roadmap for a different kind of future.

Also, maybe a guide to global economics that even our President can understand? Or is that asking the impossible?

Paul Caiozzo

Paul is one of the most recognized and awarded creatives in the advertising industry. His work has been parodied on Saturday Night Live, praised by Al Gore, debated on CNN and put on display in both The Smithsonian and The Museum of Modern Art. Memorable campaigns include “Whopper Freakout” and “Help I Want to Save a Life” both featured in the Taschen book GameChangers about the work that has redefined advertising. Before founding Interesting Development, Paul ran Goodby Silverstein and Partners NY. Under his leadership the agency created one of 2015’s best and most awarded campaigns, and landed a coveted spot on Creativity Magazine‘s “Standouts” list. Outside of advertising, a film Paul co-wrote was chosen as an official selection at numerous film festivals, including Sundance. Paul has two boy children, one wife and very little me time.

What was the book you loved this year?

When Einstein Walked with Godel. Excursions on the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt – Jim Holt is exploring how mathematical theories have grappled with the most interesting questions of human existence. Everything from String Theory to “why mirrors reverse left and right and not up and down”. Questions like “What is Infinity” aren’t easy to handle lightly, but Jim Holt manages to wrestle with giants while not losing his sense of humor.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

I was part of one of those Facebook games where people post their top ten books of all time. Out of that, I picked up a few gems that are sitting on my nightstand. The one I’m most excited about, and a little ashamed I’ve never read before is Raymond Carver: Collected Short Stories. This book presents his original stories both before and after his editor slashed them in half. I love seeing what the writer intended and what someone thought the market wanted, and deciding for myself where the best version lives. Sometimes I side with the artist, sometimes with the editor.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

I’m ready for a deeper exploration on our collective loss of nuance. Whether this manifests as a work of fiction or non-fiction, it’s a topic that I think about all the time and would like to spend more time with others who are thinking about it too. We’ve lost the ability to live in grey areas, and I don’t believe we’re the better for it.

Keith A. Grossman 

Keith A. Grossman is the Head of Global Partnerships and Chief Revenue Officer for the Bloomberg Media Group, Bloomberg L.P.‘s global multi-platform media organization that comprises web, mobile, social, television, digital video, radio, print magazines and live events platforms.

Since joining Bloomberg L.P. in July 2014, Keith has coordinated Bloomberg’s advertising sales for a new suite of digital assets and worked to align Bloomberg’s content offerings to global business, targeting new consumers.

In 2008, Grossman was included in MIN magazine’s Upshot list and, from 2014 to 2018, Keith was named to The Adweek50 List each year. In 2016, he was named to the Folio:100 ranking of publishing industry innovators and entrepreneurs and two of his teams were recipients of Project Isaac Awards, recognizing Marketing Inventions in 2013 for developing the Ars Accelerator and in 2014 for work on the WIRED Tablet Edition. Keith is on the Board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) as well as the Board of New York Cares.

Keith is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in New York.

What was the book you loved this year?

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. The story of the rise-and-fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes. The only way to describe this book is to say that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. While Theranos amassed a fortune as a Silicon Valley darling, it masked a dark side that was filled with secrets, bullying and lies deceiving some of the most well known investors and leaders along the way.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

The Mahabharata. Why? Simple: Very few Westerners have actually read it!

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

Personally, I would love for someone to write about who “Very Important, Influential Individuals” confide to when something goes wrong or they need advice. Who are their “ears?”

Kathy Kiely

Kathy Keily holds the Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism, is a lecturer on journalism at the University of New Hampshire, and is a Press Freedom Fellow at the National Press Club Journalism Institute. During her illustrious career she covered Bill Clinton’s last gubernatorial campaign for his home town newspaper, traveled to Pakistan with Charlie “Charlie’s WarWilson, and covered the White House for the New York Daily News during the “Year of Lewinsky”. A veteran of stints at USA Today, the National Journal and the Sunlight Foundation, Kathy was also (infamously) the Bloomberg Washington Politics editor until she resigned over an ethical issue in 2016. A graduate of Princeton and American Universities, Kathy lives in Columbia, Missouri where she teaches and writes.

What was the book you loved this year?

In a year of upheaval and — for journalists, danger — I found solace and wisdom in two classics.

Having already been blown away by the prescience of author Sinclair Lewis in his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, I picked up Babbittexpecting the comfort of confirmation bias. But for all his justifiable jaundice, Lewis also shows remarkable tenderness for the characters, and a sneaking admiration for the achievements of the culture he satirizes. It reminded me that, even if we often fail to live up to its ideals, the American dream is worth saving.

For my niece and nephew, twins who will graduate college this year, I orderedThe Phantom Tollbooth, telling them they finally are old enough to read this alleged children’s book for what it really is: a genius (and utterly hilarious) allegory of the perils and promise of modern life. When things get dreary, I always find it useful to remind myself to beware the Terrible Triviums of the world. And to have compassion for the Faintly Macabre.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

The Federalist Papers. I want to be reminded of what really makes America great.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

Democracy: A 21st century user’s manual. We are living in a communications revolution that has made propaganda much more powerful and pervasive. We need to arm ourselves with education.

Fanny Krivoy

Fanny Krivoy’s focus is around inclusion – that is, designing for complex, often overlooked segments who have a lot to contribute to business and our culture. She is the Founder/Creative Director of Analogous, mission-driven consultancy that uses inclusive design strategy to help organizations connect with the broadest possible client base through their brands, digital products and experiences.

Fanny is a visiting professor at Pratt Institute and is the host of the interview series Project Inclusion to learn from experts that are charging the face of inclusion. You can find her as guest lecturer/ judging/ published in Latin America, the United Kingdom and the United States.

What was the book you loved this year?

This is a small but juicy book by A Book Apart that I read and keep going back to multiple times: Design For Real Life by Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher. Real life is messy and unpredictable – and we should design and build products accordingly. People are multidimensional, and they can use our products in different states of mind, stages in their lives and rarely, as we predict that they will be. Even though the book focuses primarily on digital products, their wisdom applies to any experience in any format.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

I am actually in the midst of it, so it’s spilling over to the beginning of 2019. Mismatch by Kat Holmes. The book makes a strong case for inclusive design as a key element for innovation and good business practices. Most importantly it reframes how one should look at problem solving, by designing “with” instead of “for”. It’s well researched, and nicely written – there’s nothing quite like it.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

I wish that someone would figure out the magic formula of how to get South America from the never-ending cycles of corruption, incompetence, poverty and lack of basic human rights. This year I got to meet Erick Brimen who has interesting ideas about ending poverty profitably and has great plans and process in place for a new city in Honduras. In any case, there is so much talent, innovation, creativity surrounded by barriers that don’t let it grow and prosper — I am sure that someone will write a book about it soon!

Cathy Shiffman 

Cathy Shiffman is Associate Professor and chair of the Department of Leadership Studies and heads the EdD program in Administrative Leadership at Shenandoah University in Virginia. A graduate of Middlebury College, Harvard and Vanderbilt universities, Cathy taught English as a foreign language in a rural middle school in Thailand as a member of the Peace Corps. A widely published scholar, her focus is on education and related social policy, the social context of education, adult education, and qualitative research methods. She is particularly interested in how individuals make sense of and respond to K-12 policy and program implementation, reform efforts, and change and how schools, families, and communities can meaningfully partner to support student learning.

What was the book you loved this year?

It’s  difficult to pick just one. Janesville: An American Story by Washington Post reporter Amy Goldstein vividly brings to life the stories of residents and a town impacted by the closing of a GM plant over a decade. Caroline Fraser’s biography, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, traces Wilder’s life from her birth in Wisconsin, through the period covered by her children’s books about pioneer life in Minnesota and South Dakota, to her adult life in Missouri where she wrote her books. Many of the economic, environmental, and political tensions during Wilder’s lifetime are still at play. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy is another good one.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift, about a small island with rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay where residents have made a living as crab fishermen for over 200 years.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

I like to read biographies and autobiographies about female scientists, writers, and other artists in history.

Resh Sidu

Resh Sidhu is a multi-award-winning Group Creative Director at AKQA and is one of the most well-regarded names in VR and AR. She joined AKQA from Oscar-winning visual effects studio Framestore where, as Creative Director of the VR studio, she led a multi-disciplinary team on groundbreaking work for, among other things, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them VR experience for Warner Bros. & J.K. Rowling, receiving critical acclaim and industry recognition.

Resh speaks extensively around the world and is a frequent contributor to publications such as Advertising Age, Campaign USA, The Drum, Marie Claire, and DigiDay. A member of juries for Cannes Lions, The One Show and The Webbys, Resh was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts London, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the field of digital, film, animation and advertising. She was named Top 50 creative leader by Creative Review and was voted one of the World’s Most Creative Women in The Drum, earning her the title Queen of VR. Resh lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

What was the book you loved this year?

2018 was a year of travel and new beginnings for me, with this transition came the opportunity to read more, these books stand out in my constant search for creative inspiration.

Creativity Inc., written by Pixar co-founder and President, Ed Catmull. For anyone who wants to create great work and culture this is a must read. Ed shares what it takes to cultivate an environment of creativity within a tough business setting, and demonstrates it is possible. In my role we are constantly pushing the creative boundaries of what’s possible and to help our client solve business problems with creative thinking, this book was filled with ideas and inspiration on how to do that.

Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. Candid and riveting memoir from the Nike founder Phil Knight, he shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. The book is full of valuable lessons and is an interesting journey, full of struggle and problems, but also full of hope and victories.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

The next book I’m looking forward to reading is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Everyone keeps recommending it to me, it’s on my list and it’s time to put the VR headset down and dive into a different reality.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

More true stories of amazing women hidden in history whose stories deserve to be told. Tired of reading books were women are the victims, we need to change the story. Women like Bessie Coleman, Madam C.J. Walker and Mae Jemison should be celebrated for how they changed society’s mind about what was possible for a woman.

Jordie Wildin

Starting out in advertising as a Fellow at Ogilvy UKJordie Wildin is now an Account Manager with experience on brands such as Kronenbourg, World Afro Day and British Airways. As one of the original co-founders of the professional network Ogilvy Roots – designed to champion greater ethnic and cultural representation within the creative industry, the agency and the work through project-led action – Jordie now chairs the network and has overseen its expansion across WPP in the last year. In her free time she’s a keen korfer, runs a dancehall night with some friends, and loves to paint.

What was the book you loved this year?

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. It’s been on my radar for a while now, but I finally bought a copy in November and read it on the train home. This is a short but powerful collection of poems split into four chapters – the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. Every poem is a pearl of wisdom, delivered with heart-felt impact and accompanied by beautifully simple pen illustrations. I like that sometimes you’ll find no more than five words on a page and a load of white space, but these are often the poems that stay with you. It’s the kind of poetry I wished I’d had to get me through my first break up. A must read.

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?

Becoming by Michelle Obama. If this wasn’t the Christmas book release we needed to truly mark 2018 as the Year of Women, I don’t know what is.

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

I’m attending an event in a few weeks called “Fuck Being Humble: bitch better have my money.” If this delivers on teaching me the know-how for articulating my worth and negotiating difficult salary conversations in my career (and judging by the panelists, I know it will), then I’d buy, read and share the book-version in an instance. I’m ready for the unapologetic guide to navigating this industry’s most awkward career conversations. Damn, Fuck Being Humble is refreshing.

Header illustration by the exceptionally artful Jason Roeder. See more of his fine work here.