Andeer Interviews: GSP's Margaret Brett-Kearns

Andeer Interviews: GSP's Margaret Brett-Kearns

In his latest installment, Will Andeer interviews Margaret Brett-Kearns, director of Production at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

BRETT-KEARNS:

I’ve been in advertising since I graduated college. I wound up doing an internship at an agency during college and took to it like a duck to water. Over the course of my career, starting in print production and art buying, I have been lucky enough to move into interactive, experiential and social production. I can’t take credit for having mapped this all out. Serendipity and curiosity are probably the main themes of my career.

In 2015 Tod Puckett, who has deep, rich broadcast experience, and I decided to team up to form a single production group here at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. It seemed like the right time to open up the silos and give producers an opportunity to expand their knowledge and capabilities. The work was already moving in that direction; we just wanted to create possibilities for growth and change and excitement. Three years later, we have many producers working in multiple media.

ANDEER: Are you seeing the production volume shifting to social and interactive?

We are still shooting a lot of broadcast-TV spots. Comcast is one of our biggest clients along with Pepsi and BMW, for whom we create a lot of spots. That said, across the board we are seeing client demand for online-video and social content increasing. So whether it’s pre-roll for YouTube or social content or broadcast-TV spots or OOH or digital, clients are looking for 360- degree campaigns, and we are able to deliver them more efficiently than ever given our internal structure.

Overall, our production group encompasses producers, of course, but we also have two in- house studios with directors, DPs, editors and photographers along with all the gear needed to make content. We also have a full postproduction group that includes editors, audio engineers and composers. We have a Labs team who prototypes and builds digital ideas and, of course, a full studio of designers. We all sit together on the “maker floor,” where we can share ideas, iterate and interact quickly. It’s really a pretty dreamy scenario.

ANDEER: VR?

BRETT-KEARNS:

This is something I find really interesting. When most people are talking about VR, more often than not, they are referring to 360-degree video rather than immersive, user-driven experiences. 360 is more readily accessible to most consumers, so it makes sense that production companies emphasize that type of content. As web-based VR continues to develop, however, brands will be more open to embracing a larger definition of the VR medium.

A few years ago, we built an immersive VR experience for the Dalí Museum. The production was all done in-house at GS&P, and we are very proud of that. Since the client was a museum, they were very interested in the art aspects of the project, as we were. Ultimately, our VR experience was installed permanently within the museum’s collection. How cool is that?

ANDEER: What would you say really gets you up in and morning?

BRETT-KEARNS:

First and foremost, the people here are really amazing. I think we have a great team. When you get all different kinds of brains together, you can push beyond any one vision to make great work. My background is a mixture of all kinds of different experiences and productions, and I love the opportunity to bring my whole self to work. Goodby Silverstein & Partners really supports and encourages and celebrates that. And part of what results are projects that push the boundaries.

The kind of work that I am passionate about is the blend of multiple productions that are better together, and I feel that it is most often done on experiential projects. Those projects can be really hard to sell and produce, but what is cool about them is that you’re going to have an actual physical experience. You’re going to have a film that needs to be made. There will be a digital component to support it, and social will be involved to let everybody know about it. So all these ways of thinking and working come together to make a grander experience.

Examples of what I am referring to are projects we have done for Comic-Con and Coachella and SXSW—event-based ideas—as well as more social or digital artifacts like Facebook Live events and Twitch and Twitter activations that get fans involved in effecting an outcome.

ANDEER: What is your view of social and its overall effectiveness?

BRETT-KEARNS:

Social can prove, through analytics, that the creative idea works. You get real-time data that relates to how you’re measuring success. We aren’t just throwing spaghetti against the wall; we are very intentional about what we are making and how we measure it. We can see how many people are seeing our work and reacting to it. Are they clicking through, and are we getting people to purchase? That is very powerful.

Thanks to our strategists, every day we are getting smarter about the content that we create and about what is effective. What worked a year ago or even three months ago doesn’t necessarily work now. What I find really exciting is that we are getting so much new information all the time. As producers our job is to realize the creative vision, but how exciting is it to see that what you have put so much hard work into is paying off for the client?

ANDEER: Why is Goodby, Silverstein & Partners successful?

BRETT-KEARNS:

It is the people and the work we do. It always comes down to the people and the fact that this is a creatively driven agency. Creative really is king here. Everyone works hard, plays well

together and wants to make great work. You are going to work hard in advertising anyway, so why not work on creative that you really feel proud of?

ANDEER: Advice?

BRETT-KEARNS:

The most important thing you can do if you are just starting out—or even if you have been in this business for decades—is to master all the skills you can. Be a Swiss Army knife. The more tools you have in your kit, the better off you’re going to be—that goes for both producers and creatives. In the end, though, work hard and be nice.