Interview with Elissa Singstock, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam Broadcast Producer

Wieden+Kennedy believes that all good advertising starts with a strong idea or story. The independent, creatively driven advertising agency has offices around the world in the London, Amsterdam, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and more. Producing work for the likes of Nike, Cravendale, Coca-Cola and Heineken, Wieden+Kennedy is at the forefront of contemporary advertising. We speak to Broadcast Producer, Elissa Singstock, in the Amsterdam office about the process of producing an advert her favourite directors.

ASFF: What do you think makes a good advert?
ES:
There are so many things that make an advert good, and all of them have the potential to be good. The great ones start with a good idea and a good story. We should be entertaining and speak to the audience with respect for their intelligence. We are trying to sell the viewer something, so we want to entertain them along the way. Adverts also need to know who they are speaking to and not try to speak to everyone. Producers need to avoid going for the lowest common denominator. Film craft is important and the TVC must be well executed.

ASFF: When producing an advert what sort of things do you have to consider?
ES: You must consider everything, absolutely everything! You have to think about every detail. There is the ongoing debate around art vs commerce, and the problems with how you sell a product without abandoning your creativity. The main questions I consider are: what is the client trying to say? What is my approach – visual, storytelling? How do I maximise the budget? I always think ahead, and foresee how all elements will come together before they come together, like the cast, music, edit, etc. If you don’t think about those things at the start it will affect you later in the process. Every single detail of the film production is important, especially finding the right partners to bring the advert to life. Great creative partners will bring more to the idea than first imagined and challenge you to see things differently. It is also vital to recognise that good ideas can come from everywhere and every person in the process has a valuable opinion. Although, my favourite person is the craft service.

ASFF: Do you think there are any benefits to film advertising over print advertising?
ES: I love both mediums, but they are completely different. I don’t see one being more beneficial than the other. They are both important and can support each other fabulously. Print is limited to one frame to tell a story, and that one frame – print ad, movie poster, book cover, magazine cover- has to draw you in. TVC’s allow more time to tell a story. However, extra time can be a gift or a curse – you have to know how to use that extra time well. It’s harder than it seems.

ASFF: Whose work do you admire in the industry today?
ES: We recently worked with Traktor for Booking.com. Those guys make great work and they have fun while doing it. Their work changed the face of advertising years ago, and it is a strong example of why I stay in this business. The combination of smart clients, a smart agency and smart directors always brings out the best results. But, the process can be grueling, so it’s good to remember to stop for the occasional two-minute dance party with the tunes cranked. Tom Kuntz is another favourite of mine. We’ve recently worked together again to produce The Odyssey advert for Heineken. He keeps everything so well organised in his head. He’s looking at one small detail on set, but he’s thinking how that will affect 12 other things down the line. He is super calm, super funky, super creative and does great handstands.

ASFF: Who are your all time favourite directors?
ES:
I’d have to say Alfred Hitchcock and Wes Anderson. They are both brilliant directors.

ASFF: What is your favourite TV advert of all time?
ES: The answer to this easy. My favourite advert is PSA Keep America Beautiful directed by Joe Pytkas, with the crying Indian. The message hit home and the commercial holds up to this day: don’t pollute.

To find out more about Elissa Singstock’s work, visit www.wkamst.com.
To watch Heineken’s The Odyssey, visit http://tinyurl.com/k2ad7vf