To think we started with the longest government shutdown on record and ended with an impeachment. I guess that is what happens when you give a former reality star a top government job. 2019 was chock full of change. Disney swallowed up Fox, a majority of Hulu, and launched Disney+ which saw over 10 million subscribers on its first day of operation. Bidding wars commenced on fan favorites like Friends, Seinfeld and The Office solidifying 2019 as the “year of the nine-figure TV streaming rights deals” according to Variety. And with only a month remaining in the decade, CBS and Viacom merged changing the media landscape again.
From coast to coast, 2019 saw its fair share of change for both the big and the little guys. And on January 7, 2019, we also had a big change with our rebrand to AlterEgo. After six months of meticulous planning and strategy sessions led by our friends at Noetic Consultants to establish our foundation we had a new vision. To elevate each of our clients. To help them shine. To never settle and always deliver great work. To be a compassionate partner. To value and trust the team. To never stop. Never stop learning, never stop trying, never stop helping.
And with the new name and new vision came a new logo from our creative team spearheaded by former Art Director, Fabian Tejada, Sr. Designer, Jason Leta, and Associate Creative Director, Erica Kern. We were ready for primetime and went out with the biggest bang we could muster. Our amazing EP, Monesha Lever, secured us an interview with the Daily Brief that dropped that afternoon. We were featured on Joel Pilger’s RevThink podcast and all our social media ducks were in a row thanks to Digital Marketer, Cory Lawrence, and Digital Content Manager, Kristen Edgell.
And since that moment it’s been new challenges, new clients and new goals. The industry kept changing over the year and we knew he had to keep evolving with it. Change can be frightening. For all of us as business owners, creatives, vendors, agencies and clients alike. But there was no looking back. Only forward. And what a year it was.
For starters, we received two Promax awards for a massive behind the scenes effort in support of Nat Geo’s second season of Genius featuring Antonio Banderas. We brought in 11 (or was it 13) TB of media, had a dedicated writer/producer for weeks screening bites and pitching themes and two editors simultaneously cutting the five total pieces (with versions for social as well). And it was a dream. The series was gorgeous, the BTS interviews were fun, and selfishly I got to work with my friend and former Producer who is now a superstar Creative Director at Geo, Erin Newsome.
We were recognized with four Daily Brief HOT SPOTS for work we created with AMC, Nat Geo Wild and MotorTrend. “Dead by Dawn,” written and produced by rockstar Executive Writer/Producer Nicole Strong was ranked #2 Hot Spot …for the YEAR. That was a first!
We deepened many relationships in our pursuit to partner with other like minded leaders and presented our first ever panel on the merits of being an Accidental Generalist (read more here:https://www.alteregocreates.com/blog/2019/04/04/proud-to-be-an-accidental-generalist/) at Promax’s annual North America conference in LA with fellow WPO sister, friend and author Nancie McDonnell Ruder, founder of Noetic. We have continued to partner with Nancie and her team and look forward to releasing our joint podcast in early 2020.
We curated relationships with several new clients, were provided new opportunities with long standing ones and reunited with old friends now in new places. We witnessed their passions and brought their visions to life. From the high tech rooms of a medicinal cannabis manufacturer to a pristine golf course. Pickleball courts, pianos, winding country roads. From the picture perfect beaches of San Francisco to the unspoiled aquifers of Florida. We captured stories of explorers, photographers, anthropologists, scientists, patients, podiatrists, surfers, heroes, activists, award winners … Chris Tucker.
One of the proudest moments of my career came this year when I was personally requested by Sr. Creative Director of Nat Geo’s brand studio, Melissa Marks, to direct their campaign for Barbie’s “You Can Do Anything” featuring Explorer Jenny Adler. There aren’t many female directors out there so this was an experience in empowerment I could also take home to my daughter and that meant a lot.
This summer alone, the team logged 15 shoot days in 8 weeks across 8 states! We had set a goal for ourselves to become a more solid high end production team from the inside, to create a custom kit and broaden our services to include Movi operation, a licensed drone pilot and production management. And we did it, but not alone. Monesha brought her production prowess to shoots this year as we formed stronger than ever bonds with key members in the production communities of DC, NY, LA, SF and all around the country in order to offer our clients a more robust suite of specialized services to help them shine.
In previous years we had lost many jobs either to the ever popular practice of devaluing expertise through underbidding or to the guys who could upsell video as an add on service. It was a crazy uphill battle but through careful refinement we were able to provide thoughtful and original creative solves that proved our value. This was not easy. It was actually quite demoralizing and depressing but we never stopped believing in our teams’ worth and never stopped believing in our client’s creative vision. We owe them all that. And we won’t stop now.
Another goal was to continue growing our reputation as a killer (and now TPN certified) edit shop. This is part of our DNA. Justin is an editor. His dad is an editor. And we have one of the most unique set ups here having editors from such varied backgrounds all under one roof. We continued to push each and every one of them and this was not without growing pains. Change is hard. Pursuing new clients is hard. Taking on more and more media is hard. But investing in our edit team was a priority and we were excited to be able to hire our newest member, Assistant Editor Hannah Testa, to support the already stellar editor line up of Rory Sheridan, Nate Hoeft and Dave Nathan.
Planning for our rebrand gave us a much needed pause to consider the needs of our clients and the trajectory of our company for 2019. But it also afforded us an opportunity to reflect on some of our shortcomings. 2018 saw a lot of unexpected change in our design team and that was tough on me as a leader who prides themselves on being able to inspire strong and successful teams. I have worked closely with some of the brightest creatives in the industry so to lose one (or two …or three) felt like a huge failure on my part. It was hard on me, hard on the designers, hard on the ACD, hard on all of us. But as you may have guessed by reading this, I am not a quitter. I am not big on wallowing or playing the blame game. We were able to turn what could have been a tragedy into opportunity for change. We spent a lot of care and time researching how to build the right team and after many trials and potential scenarios, we decided that a DC/ NY collaboration was the best path. With this new team of full time and freelance talent we were able to truly offer a custom original solution for each job every time, now including key art and digital asset creation.
And speaking of creation, we launched this blog. Something I had been wanting to do for years but never had carved out the space. I am a writer. And I am surrounded by one of the most talented writers in Erica Kern. She leads our team of Writer/ Producers in coming up with some of the most out of the box ideas for pitches and this year brought us more than ever. Although we don’t love losing, we know pitches are a necessary process and I am incredibly proud of the work we presented. My favorite being one we presented for a co-branded piece for ID (our good friend and VP of Branded Entertainment, Eliza Booth swears we’ll all make it happen one day!!) But back to the blog, it gave us all an opportunity to stretch outside of short form and explore another side of creative expression through writing. I look forward to 2020 when EVERYONE takes a stab at a guest feature … I’m looking at you Megan Gygax (who is right meow penning a piece on how many cat puns can be made while working on a CATS movie tie in. And spoiler alert: the movie IS as creepy critics claim).
2019 was just the beginning. In hindsight, as I reflect on all we accomplished since our rebrand in January I am … exhausted. Just kidding. I am deeply proud. I am proud because I was both excited for what we could achieve, while allowing myself equal grace on where we failed. The freedom to try and fail is a value I hold dear and one on which we have based our mantra. Never Stop. Never stop learning. Never stop trying. Never stop helping. Being a committed forever student and a compassionately candid person is what I have to offer myself, our clients and above all else, this team. We are not perfect. There are still plenty of growing pains to be had. But I love AlterEgo and all that it represents. That Justin and I are a perfectly complementary duality and a trusted friend to our clients. I love the clever ambigram logo mark and think it looks pretty smart on merch. I love living our goal to harness creativity and unleash greatness every day and on every project.
I am more excited for 2020 and the new decade ahead because I know with this team and our solid band of partners we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds to create, change and champion.
Happy new year, friends. Cheers to 2020, the best is yet to come.