Eric Wong Named President And CMO For Warner Recorded Music

This week in leadership updates, Eric Wong is named president and CMO of Warner Recorded Music, Ledo Pizza promotes Will Robinson to chief marketing officer, WarnerMedia appoints Johannes Larcher to head of HBO Max international, Diageo India hires Deepika Warrier as CMO and more.


Warner Music Group Hires Eric Wong As President And Chief Marketing Officer, Warner Recorded Music

Warner Music Group has named Eric Wong as president and CMO of Warner Recorded Music. According to the press release, “In this first of its kind post at Warner, Wong will serve as the head of worldwide marketing, spearheading a one-company mission to expand careers for global artists and elevate local artists to the global stage.”

Wong comes from Universal Music Group’s Island Records, where he served as chief operating officer. Prior to Island Records, Wong held senior roles at Def Jam Records and was CMO at Bad Boy Entertainment.


Ledo Pizza Appoints Will Robinson To Chief Marketing Officer

Ledo Pizza has promoted Will Robinson from vice president of marketing to CMO. In his new role, Robinson will oversee the company’s annual sales and marketing budgets, as well as the management of franchise partners and third-party marketing vendors.

Robinson has been with Ledo Pizza for over 20 years


WarnerMedia Names Johannes Larcher As Head Of HBO Max International

According to Deadline, WarnerMedia has selected Johannes Larcher to lead the global launch of HBO Max. In August, Larcher will join the company as head of HBO Max international with his first task to launch HBO Max in Latin America in 2021.

Larcher comes from MBC Group, where he oversees Shahid.

Previously, Larcher served as Hulu senior vice president of international for four years before co-founding SubVRsive.


Diageo India Hires Deepika Warrier As Chief Marketing Officer

Diageo India has named Deepika Warrier as its new CMO, according to Campaign.

Warrier comes to the job with over two decades of experience at PepsiCo, where she most recently served as managing director of NourishCo Beverages.

Current Diageo India CMO Julie Bramham will assume a global role at the company.


Kroger Names Stuart W. Aitken As Chief Merchant And Marketing Officer

Stuart W. Aitken has accepted a promotion as Kroger’s chief merchant and marketing officer, following Joe Grieshaber’s retirement.

Aitken most recently served as senior vice president of alternative business and chief executive officer of 84.51˚, Kroger’s data analytics subsidiary.


Bulb Appoints Lis Blair As Chief Growth And Marketing Officer

Bulb has hired former easyJet CMO Lis Blair as their chief growth and marketing officer.

In April, Blair left easyJet after eight years with the company amid the travel industry crisis.


DuPont Names Kimberly Markiewicz As Vice President Of Diversity, Equity And Inclusion

DuPont has appointed Kimberly Markiewicz VP of diversity, equity and inclusion to advance the company’s DE&I programs.

Markiewicz currently leads DuPont’s PRIDE Employee Resource Group.

Markiewicz has been with DuPont since 1995 when she started as a chemical engineer. Most recently, she served as VP of environmental, health and safety.


Have a job tip or a new addition to your marketing leadership team? Contact us for coverage consideration. Article updated through Friday, July 10th.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Film Techniques

Ayzenberg creative director Gary Goodman explores his top picks for the most resonant campaigns he’s seen in the wild, this week focusing on filmmaking techniques as a distinguishing characteristic.



I thought I’d focus this week on filmmaking techniques and how some of my current favorite videos take an innovative approach to storytelling. Because of the cleverness of the idea and the level of careful planning that goes into each of these, the end result is well worth the effort.

These filmmakers dazzle us like great magicians by crafting illusions that bring a familiar idea to life in a fresh way, one that has us scratching our heads wondering “how the heck did they do that” or more importantly, “why didn’t I think of that?


Dacia Ingenious Productions”  –  Publicis * Poke London

First up is a car commercial made during quarantine for a brand you’ve probably never heard of, Dacia.

Why it matters: While the brand was unknown to me, I was so blown away by this spot that I wanted to know more. As a creative director, I’m always curious how something so good comes to life and what drove the decisions behind-the-scenes. Foundationally, there’s the impact of COVID-19 that makes a fresh production approach mandatory, but car commercials generally follow such tried and true methods that it’s rare for one to jump out from the pack—even more unlikely for a car brand with very little brand identity to those outside of Europe.

So after rewatching it about 20 times, I dug a little deeper and was really pleased with what I uncovered. First off, the car company has said that because they are so competitively priced, people new to the brand often want to know if there’s a catch. This led me to discover their smart engineering approach, which apparently is different to other manufacturers and nothing short of ingenious. The ad extends this thought by asking: why shouldn’t everything with the Dacia name also be an ingenious production?

The details: Clear brief in hand, the agency brought in the Israeli filmmaking duo, Vania and Gal, who had previously made the music video for Coldplay’s “Up & Up.” Vania and Gal had a clear vision from the start and put together a proof of concept test film featuring the illusion they had in mind. What’s so impressive is all the attention to detail that makes this spot soar, from the Macbook Pros serving as ground and background planes to the actors multitasking to create the soundtrack and lighting FX in real time. Note: the entire spot was done in-camera in Vania’s Tel Aviv flat in one take.


Vertical Salon – Starburst Swirlers

Next up is another clever use of filmmaking techniques and also an appreciation of how one’s audience likes to best consume media, that is, vertically on their phones.  

Why it matters: This one starts with the clever realization that the new Starburst Swirlers are their first “vertical” candy when compared to the normal square shape of Starburst candies we’re all used to. As an ad guy, I appreciate being able to land such a clear and foundational premise that everything else can be built on. In this case, it’s not an obvious observation, but I’m sure once one of the creatives said it aloud, everyone in the room probably just smiled because of all the possibilities unlocked. As one of my former colleagues used to cavalierly say, “now the spot will essentially write itself.” 

OK, it was never actually that easy, but I always appreciated it when he said it with such confidence.

So where do you take the “world’s first vertical candy?” Well, of course you’d want to construct a simulated vertical world. The added benefit? The primary candy buying demo is a younger audience who live on their phones and consume most of their media in the vertical format. Double-win for the agency.

The details: There’s a great BTS on YouTube if you’re curious to see all the details of how they brought this to life. To simulate the physics of verticality brought to the real world, the filmmakers constructed a hair salon set in a large rectangular box, then flipped it on its side so everything now had the proper vertical orientation. The actors were harnessed and wired for safety while the crew could tilt the set, notably when achieving the shot where the actor with the broom slides through frame. It appears that the actors had to master the effects of gravity along the way, but all to great effect as one actor shares her Starburst with her neighbor in the chair below.


Santa Cruz Bikes, “Get Creative With Your Surroundings” – Cut Media

Thanks to my friends up in Vancouver, The Sequence Group, for turning me on to this amazing stop-motion and miniature gem for Santa Cruz Bikes.

Why it matters: Picking the right way to visually narrate a story can make a huge difference in its audience impact. Although it would have been easy, even in the time of COVID-19, to ask fans to strap cameras to their bikes and helmets and go out to shoot their favorite trails and tricks, SCBs chose a different path. By going with a representative approach vs. showing the real thing, we are invited to use our imaginations and think of all the things we wish we could be doing right now. It’s open-ended enough that everyone can envision their experiences biking through nature, carving up trails while maybe pulling off some IG-worthy tricks. Just careful you don’t end up mimicking the 2:00 mark.

The details: The campaign was originally slated as a road trip through Greece with some of the brand’s top athletes, but because of the quarantine a new solution was needed. The solution came from one of the agency’s in-house creatives along with his brother, some clever miniatures and their back garden in Glasgow, Scotland. The brothers manufactured the hand-crafted bike, all the props and sets and painstakingly captured the micro-moments of magic. 

Listen In: What I Love/Hate About Clients/Agencies With Microsoft’s Sam Reich

(Originally aired July 8th on LinkedIn Live.)



We’re back with another episode of a.network’s weekly series Listen In, created and hosted by Ayzenberg principal and ECD Matt Bretz. This week we’re featuring a conversation between Matt and Sam Reich, integrated marketing communications lead at Microsoft. The discussion includes tips on how to make your client/agency relationships better with trust, openness and empathy, no matter which side of the brief you’re working on.


About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Report: More Diverse Companies Outperform Financially

In 2019, companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36 percent in profitability, slightly up from 33 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2014. That’s according to the third report in a McKinsey series investigating the business case for diversity, “Diversity Wins.” Though the research predates coronavirus, the findings remain highly relevant as companies examine their diversity and inclusion practices and seek to mitigate systemic racism in the workplace.

McKinsey’s research reveals that the companies whose leadership has the most gender and ethnic and cultural diversity are now more likely than ever to be more profitable than their less diverse counterparts.

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to achieve above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile, up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.

McKinsey also found that the greater an executive team’s representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance. For example, companies with over 30 percent women executives were more likely to perform better than companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30; these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer female executives, or none at all.

The most gender-diverse companies were 48 percent more likely to perform better than the least gender-diverse companies.

Ethnically- and culturally-diverse companies are 36 percent more likely to be profitable than the least diverse companies.

Echoing McKinsey’s finding from its 2017 and 2014 reports, the data also suggests ethnically-diverse companies outperform gender-diverse companies.

However beneficial championing diversity is to a company’s bottom line, there’s been a lack of material progress in representation across organizations. Since the researcher started analyzing the data globally, in 2017, gender diversity grew just one percentage point, from 14 percent in 2017 to 15 percent in 2019. In the companies from McKinsey’s original 2014 data set, which were based in the US and the UK, female representation on executive teams grew from 15 percent to 20 percent in 2019.

Additionally, over a third of the companies McKinsey analyzed still have no women at all on their executive teams.

The representation of ethnic-minorities has also stalled: on UK and US teams, the figure grew from seven percent in 2014 to 13 percent in 2019. Globally, the number increased by just two percentage points—from 12 percent in 2017 to 14 percent in 2019.

McKinsey also noticed a growing polarization between inclusion and diversity leaders and companies that have yet to embrace diversity. McKinsey identified five cohorts based on the progress of companies on executive diversity from 2014 to 2019—Fast Movers, Diversity Leaders, Moderate Movers, Resting on Laurels and Laggards.

Fast Movers on gender diversity have nearly quadrupled the representation of women on executive teams to 27 percent. Whereas regarding ethnicity, the same cohort increased their level of diversity from just one percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2019.

The Laggards cohort have regressed even further—in 2019, women comprised just eight percent of the executive team members at these companies and members from ethnic minority groups accounted for none.

The remaining two cohorts, Moderate Movers and Resting on Laurels, have similarly become less diverse since 2014.

The findings are based on an analysis of more than 1,000 major companies in 15 countries.

The Most Emotionally Engaging Coronavirus Ads

As the pandemic hit, many brands swiftly shifted from product-centric to purpose-driven messaging to avoid appearing insensitive. A new study from Unruly that measured viewers’ emotional responses to coronavirus ads around the world shows that brands successfully pulled at consumers’ heartstrings during the pandemic.

Unruly measured the emotional reactions of 18,499 global consumers to 52 coronavirus ads, using its emotional testing tool, UnrulyEQ, as well as its EMO Index to account for differences in how people emotionally express themselves worldwide. 

Google Japan’s 60-second “Thank You” spot—a compilation of mobile phone and video call footage of health care workers on the front lines of coronavirus—was ranked the most emotionally engaging coronavirus campaign in the world. 

The “Thank You” campaign, Unruly found, is three times more emotional than the average Japanese ad. The campaign also received the highest score for brand favorability and purchase intent. Additionally, 83 percent of viewers considered Google to be an empowering brand after watching the ad.

An ad from the Singapore government called, “Together, We Can” came in second, followed by Tourism Australia’s “With Love From Aus” in third.

In the US, the most emotionally engaging coronavirus ads include Google’s “Thank You Healthcare Workers” spot, which ranked seven and was 91 percent more emotional than the average US ad. Other strong performers in the US include Oreo, whose “Stay Playful” ad was 70 percent more emotional than the average US ad and Budweiser’s “One Team” campaign, which was 54 percent more emotional than the average US ad. Nike’s “You Can’t Stop Us” ad and Walmart’s “Heroes” ads ranked 18 and 19, respectively. 

Three UK ads made the top ten list, including ITV’s “Apart. But Never Alone” spot, which was 101 percent more emotional than the average UK ad, NHS’s “Stay At Home” ad and Jack Daniels’ “With Love, Jack” ad.

Viewers resonated most with ads that focused on supporting or thanking communities and people affected by COVID, says Alex Maguire, senior insight manager at Unruly.

“Meanwhile, ads that instruct viewers in the ways that they can still interact with the brand and their products during the pandemic tended to not only be less emotionally engaging, but also attracted lower scores for more rational metrics, such as purchase intent and intent to find out more,” says Maguire.

Unruly’s findings come as Ace Metrix released a report on the top-performing ads in Q2, broken down by the most empowering ads and the most “Prodtastic” ads. Ace Metrix’s research reveals that the most effective ads during Q2 focused either on purpose or product.

Frito Lay’s COVID-themed “It’s About People” spot received the highest score for empowering, indicating the ad’s message inspired, encouraged or motivated viewers. 

The second most empowering ad in Q2 was Mercedes-Benz’s coronavirus-related “Be The Best” ad, which resulted in 77 percent of viewers reporting a positive change in brand perception (Ace Metrix notes that the COVID ad norm is 60 percent).

Ace Metrix’s Prodtastic category measured a viewer’s emotional response to an ad primarily driven by a product rather than storytelling. Tide’s 15-second, non-coronavirus-related “Get It Clean” spot topped the Prodtastic list, earning an Ace Score 18 percent above the norm. Additionally, 66 percent of viewers reported they were much more or more likely to buy the new product Tide features in the ad.

Netflix Names Bozoma Saint John Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Microsoft Latin America hires Mariana Castro as VP of sales, marketing and operations, United Natural Foods brings on Amanda Helming as its CMO, Netflix hires Bozoma Saint John as CMO, Realtor.com names Mickey Neuberger CMO and LegalShield hires its first-ever CMO, Cameron Scott.


Microsoft Hires Mariana Castro As Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations For Latin America

Mariana Castro is joining Microsoft Latin America as VP of sales, marketing and operations after current CMO Paula Bellizia stepped down.

Castro will be responsible for driving Microsoft’s digital transformation and artificial intelligence adoption across the region. She has been with Microsoft for over 20 years.


United Natural Foods Inc. Names Amanda Helming As New Chief Marketing Officer

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has hired Amanda Helming as its new CMO, effective July 13. Reporting to UNFI president Chris Testa, Helming will oversee the company’s Brands+ product portfolio, branding and creative and communications teams.

Helming comes from UNO restaurant Holdings, where she served as CMO. Prior to that, Helming spent seven years at Dunkin Brands, most recently as VP of brand strategy, global consumer insights and pricing for Dunkin’ US.


Netflix Appoints Bozoma Saint John As Chief Marketing Officer

Netflix is bringing on Bozoma Saint John as its new CMO after the company’s current CMO, Jackie Lee-Joe, stepped down for personal reasons.

Saint John comes from Endeavor, where she served as CMO since 2018. Prior to Endeavor, Saint John worked as chief brand officer for Uber and before that, head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes.


Realtor.com Announces New CMO

Realtor.com announced in a press release today that Mickey Neuberger will be joining its senior leadership team as chief marketing officer.

Neuberger previously served in marketing roles at 24 Hour Fitness, Loyalty Lab, and Travelocity. He most recently held the position of VP of global marketing at eBay.


LegalShield Hires Cameron Scott As First Chief Marketing Officer

LegalShield named its first-ever CMO, Cameron Scott. In his new role, effective today, Scott will lead the company’s global marketing strategy and execution.

Prior to LegalShield, Scott was chief brand officer at GoDaddy. He has also held a variety of senior marketing and strategy roles at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T.

Gender And Racial Inequalities Persist In Ads

In 2019, representation of black and brown people in ads reached 38 percent, down from 43.1 percent in 2018, according to a study on inclusion and bias in advertising from Cannes Lions and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The report analyzed representations of gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, age and body size in Cannes Lions ads from 2006 to 2019.

Despite the 5.1 percent decline, racially diverse characters garnered 46.4 percent of screen time in 2019 ads.

Since 2006, the first time the organizations analyzed race in ads, the number of black and brown people shown in ads grew by 12.1 percent, from 25.9 percent in 2006 to 38 percent in 2019. On the other hand, white characters saw a decrease, from 74.1 percent in 2006 to 62 percent in 2019.

Still, the industry has a long way to go in eliminating racial bias in ads as white characters are more likely to be shown working than those of color (20.5 percent compared with 17.2 percent). White people are also more likely to be portrayed as smart than black and brown people (10.1 percent vs. 7.6 percent).

The report also found racial differences in depictions of work, eating/drinking, exercising and in a classroom, as well as a discrepancy in representations of intelligence. So while advertisers have made creative more racially diverse, they’ve also continued to reinforce negative stereotypes.

Representation of women in ads has remained mostly stagnant. In 2019, male characters outnumbered female characters two to one (61.4 percent vs. 38.6 percent). What’s worse, male actors have twice the screen time and speaking time as female actors (69.3 percent vs. 30.6 percent).

Gender equality in ads has fluctuated over the past decade; representation of women peaked at 40.2 percent in 2014 (vs. 59.8 percent for men). Since then, the percentage of males shown in ads has also fluctuated, but has never dropped below 59 percent.

This gender imbalance can also be seen in the portrayals of work, leadership and personal attributes in ads. Nearly twice as many male characters are shown working as female characters (22.2 percent vs. 13.3 percent). Male characters are also more likely to be depicted as leaders than female characters (16.6 percent compared with 10.1 percent). Additionally, more male characters are shown as funny than female characters (22.1 percent vs. 15.4 percent). Female characters are nearly twice as likely to be shown as partially nude, and four times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing than their male counterparts (10.8 percent compared with 2.2 percent).

For LGBTQ+ characters, the figures are worse: just 1.8 percent of characters with a discernible sexual orientation in ads are LGBTQ+, compared to 10 percent of people globally.

Advertisers also represent LGBTQ+ characters differently than non-LGBTQ+ ones. For example, non-LGBTQ+ characters are more likely to be shown working than LGBTQ+ characters (18.9 percent vs. 6.9 percent), and as smart (8.9 percent vs. 6.8 percent).

The groups most underrepresented in ads include people with disabilities, those over the age of 60 and characters with large body types. In 2019, people with disabilities accounted for just 2.2 percent of characters in ads; people over 60, seven percent; and those with large body types, 7.2 percent.

While characters ages 60 and over are nearly twice as likely to be shown as leaders than younger people, characters with large body types are more likely to be shown as stupid than other characters (9.1 percent vs. 1.8 percent).

Findings are based on an analysis of 251 English-speaking or English-subtitled Cannes Lions Film and Film Craft ads from 2019, from the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.

What We’re Reading-Week Of June 22nd

We’re searching for the most pressing marketing insights this week.



Vice Calls On Brands To Rethink Keyword Blocklists Associated With Racism

Ad Age

At its virtual Digital Content NewFronts, Vice Media urged advertisers to stop blocking “Black Lives Matter” and related keywords.

Why it matters: Vice’s internal analysis revealed that content related to the police killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests were monetized at a rate 57 percent lower than other news content.


Entering A New Decade Of AI: The State Of Play

McKinsey & Company

In a recent global survey on artificial intelligence (AI) among 2,300 executives, the McKinsey Global Institute found that across the board, the use of AI in standard business processes has increased 25 percent year-over-year.

Why it matters: Despite significant growth in AI adoption, organizations have a long way to go to scale impact, manage risks and retrain the workforce.


Jimmy John’s Makes A Rare Move To Jolt Sandwich Sales

Adweek

As foot traffic to Jimmy John’s plummeted during the pandemic, the brand launched a number of promotions, then enlisted laid-off production talent from around the country to shoot footage for accompanying television spots.

Why it matters: When COVID-19 hit, many creative agencies immediately initiated layoffs and furloughs. This Jimmy John’s campaign not only lured customers back to its restaurants but also helped the creative community.


How To Overcome Your Fear Of Making Mistakes

Harvard Business Review 

To channel mistakes into better decision making, former clinical psychologist turned writer Alice Boyes, PhD, recommends saying your fears out loud, accepting reality and directing worries toward behaviors that will realistically reduce the chances of failure.

Why it matters: The pandemic and recent protests over police brutality have made people fearful of making mistakes.


Opinion: In 2020, There’s No Place For Universal Thinking In Marketing

Ad Age

To build deeper connections, brands must reinstate the practice of consumer segmentation to ensure all voices are heard and different mindsets are represented.

Why it matters: Consumer segmentation at the behavioral level only gives marketers the “what.” Segmenting with like mindsets and shared cultures produces the “why.”

Study: The Pandemic’s Impact On Gen Z

Timed for the gradual lifting of stay-at-home orders in the US, a new global study from ReGenerations examines how the pandemic has impacted Gen Z’s perspectives on life, mental health, working and learning, as well as their behavior.

Despite the appeal of teleworking, Gen Z isn’t ready to give up the physical office for good, the study found. In fact, respondents say they’d prefer to work in a brick-and-mortar office two-thirds of their workweek. The finding shatters the belief that the tech-obsessed generation has been quick to embrace major tech companies’ recent permanent work-from-home policies, such as Slack and Twitter. On the other hand, 33 percent prefer teleworking.

This thinking extends to Gen Z’s perspective on remote education; 72 percent of participants believe the best way to get a degree is in person and 85 percent prefer learning in person. In contrast, 25 percent prefer a hybrid model and only two percent prefer online learning.

Gen Z are also experiencing Zoom fatigue, with 80 percent of respondents saying they’d prefer to meet in person. The study also reports that only 11 percent agree that Zoom meetings are as effective as face-to-face meetings.

Even for a generation that grew up on video games and social media, being stuck inside has been challenging. Over half (51 percent) say that sheltering in place wasn’t easy, as many missed being able to celebrate milestones like graduation (44 percent) and daily activities such as participating in year-end school activities (63 percent), hanging out with friends (80 percent) and dining out (50 percent).

“What we discovered cuts against the grain of the popular narrative that the post-COVID-19 world will be overwhelmingly online. That’s not what these young men and women want–or say they need,” notes ReGenerations president Jessica Stollings-Holder.

Gen Z’s screen time during lockdowns increased, albeit minimally considering the group’s reliance on tech. Forty-two percent of respondents report spending six to nine hours a day on their device compared with GlobalWebIndex’s finding that they spent four hours a day on their device in 2018.

Though 60 percent of participants say they spent time on entertainment during lockdown, Gen Z’s habits remained relatively healthy. For example, 56 percent report spending time with family, 40 percent exercising, 33 percent learning and 31 percent working.

Still, lockdown led to 66 percent of respondents experiencing heightened loneliness and 43 percent feeling anxiety. Nearly half (47 percent) also report a decrease in life satisfaction as a result of lockdown.

As Gen Z gears up for the new normal, they plan to watch their spending, too—60 percent agree they will not spend money freely given the pandemic’s impact on their financial futures.

“Right now we have a critical window with a generation who wants to connect. As restrictions are lifted, host events that bring people together. Bring learning back to the training room or classroom. Teach skills like emotional intelligence and communication. Don’t exclusively offer remote working–provide options. If restrictions limit in-person gatherings, make sure your virtual events simulate in-person connection,” says Stollings-Holder.

The findings are based on surveys distributed to 500 18-24-year-olds across 29 states and six countries, between April 21 and May 1.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Campaign Picks: Week Of June 8

We took some time off to honor what’s happening out on the streets, not just in America but around the world. This week, I’ve selected three pieces that come from very talented and imaginative individuals, each using their toolsets to transport you to another place in a way that only animation can. It’s a quick journey this week and one that will hopefully put a smile on your face.


Infinite Bowls – Laurie Rowan

Let’s kick this off with a simple yet mesmerizing 24-second piece by UK animator Laurie Rowan aptly titled Infinite Bowls.

Why it matters: It’s such a pleasure to stumble upon a piece that instantly transports you to another dimension. Rowan’s creation is filled with playful little surprises and is unexpectedly impactful in its simplicity. I don’t personally do yoga or any type of meditation, but I can only imagine that this is where my brain might take me. There’s also something to Laurie’s style that captures the feeling of being at Coachella. It’s a feeling of having a place where artistic expression and letting one’s mind go is at the heart of the experience. So, thank you Laurie for helping fill the void of a Coachella-free year with something that scratches the itch in just the right way.

The details: Laurie Rowan is based in Brighton on the south shore of the UK. Apparently, he set a goal for himself to create and animate a quick short to post on Instagram every Saturday. Although this was meant as a personal exercise to break out of the daily studio grind, he soon found that people were responding to his work.  Laurie’s collection of eccentric CG character GIFs has generated over 700 million views.


Javier Arres –  GIF Artist

Traveling South from Brighton to Madrid, Spain is where we find my next pick, the incredibly talented Javier Arres. The link above takes you to a page where you can experience the body of his work. Most only take a few seconds to appreciate, but you could clearly stare at them for a lot longer.

Why it matters: Whether it’s a Bitcoin funhouse with a Cheshire cat or a psychedelic pizza truck, Javier brings his fantastical and highly detailed illustrative style into making what he calls “Visual Toys.”

It’s easy to get lost in Javier’s work and feel a sense that he’s incredibly attuned to cultural elements that instantly resonate, even if you’re not sure why at first glance. His work has been described as Monty Python meets Sim City meets Roller Coaster Tycoon with a dash of steampunk, neon, and hypnotic effects, all baked in a sci-fi oven of surrealism. Well said.

The details: According to the artist page on illustration.com, “Javier’s process begins with pure imagination, evolving into mad sketching as he assembles the objects, icons, machines and characters that go into the final work. His media include felt tips, India ink on watercolor paper, Photoshop and After Effects, where he puts them in motion.”  In 2019 Javier won the London Art Biennale for his work on paper.


Refik Anadol – Melting Memories

Switching gears from the fun and playful to a more data-driven and experiential focused artist, I stumbled on Refik’s work late last year while we were trying to wrap our heads around how you can take data streams and turn them into something meaningful, tangible⁠—and most importantly⁠—beautiful. And Refik Anadol is the master.

Why it matters: For Melting Memories, Refik wanted to visibly demonstrate the neuroscience of recollection. He uses a combination of data paintings, light projections and augmented data sculptures to capture the human brain’s processes. This stunning work is one of many explorations in how data can be organized and transformed into a powerful visual statement.

The details: Anadol, a Turkish born artist, now resides in LA where he has had his hand in major works across the world. According to the artist’s site, Refik conducted experiments at the Neuroscape Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, where he “gathers data on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control from an EEG that measures changes in brain wave activity and provides evidence of how the brain functions over time. These data sets constitute the building blocks for the unique algorithms that the artist needs for the multi-dimensional visual structures on display.”