Jared Leto Headlines Adweek’s L.A. Roundtable
A-listers from the worlds of entertainment, agencies and tech talk creativity and convergence By James Cooper
More than any city in the world, Los Angeles defines creativity. It is shaped by a massive entertainment industry, storied creative agencies and a burgeoning maker and startup culture. But its creative energy also is driven by the powerful intangibles of optimism and renewal. And with digital technology linking it not only to Chicago and New York but also South America and Asia, L.A. will only grow as the world’s creative center. That’s why Adweek last month invited a group at the heart of this business and city to discuss opportunities and challenges of living and working among the most creative doers and dreamers.
We were joined by: Jared Leto, actor, musician and digital entrepreneur; Chris Bruss, vp, brand entertainment, Funny or Die; Jae Goodman, co-chief creative officer/co-head, CAA Marketing; Rob Schwartz, global creative president TBWA\Worldwide; Sibyl Goldman, head of entertainment partnerships, Facebook; Jamie Byrne, director, content strategy, YouTube; and John Boiler, founder and CEO, 72andSunny.
Adweek: Rob, TBWA has a long legacy in Los Angeles, and our motivation for being here today is probably similar to what spurred Jay Chiat to set up shop here in 1968. Do you think his creative manifest destiny has been realized?
Rob Schwartz, global creative president, TBWA\Worldwide (Clio juror ’13): I think, yes. Jay basically said I don’t want to be New York, I don’t want to be Chicago. I want to go to this place Los Angeles. And back then there were movie companies and Dodger Stadium. Nobody was thinking advertising. But slowly and surely, between Jay and Guy Day, they built an agency based on L.A. at its best, and that’s doing things that hadn’t been done.
Jared, with so many creative tools at your disposal, do you have to be more curator than creative?
Jared Leto, actor/musician/digital entrepreneur: No, not really. Thankfully, I don’t have those kind of rules in place. I basically get to do whatever I feel like doing, and that’s my job as an artist. When you think of the greatest things of all time, whether it’s advertising or whether it’s art, the word risk is somewhere in there, right? And if you’re paying attention to the rules, you’re not risking very much. So my job is to not follow rules, that’s the job of the artist.
Sibyl, Facebook is doing interesting work connecting talent with their fan bases.
Sibyl Goldman, head of entertainment partnerships, Facebook: There’s this amazing thing happening now where creative people are connecting directly with their fans in ways that used to have to happen through marketing. I support marketing, of course, but there’s that direct message experience that happens now if you like or follow someone on any of these platforms. There’s a huge opportunity for artists to share what they’re passionate about, whether it’s their own projects or something else they love.
Jamie Byrne, director, content strategy, YouTube: With these open platforms, whether it’s YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, individual creators can reach out and build a fan base all on their own. There’s no longer a gatekeeper that says this person is going to get cast in this and become famous. You have somebody like Bethany Mota post her first video on YouTube at 14. Four years later she’s globally known, has millions of subscribers, and she’s now on Dancing With the Stars. That’s one of the really exciting things that’s happening right now and a lot of it’s being driven by companies here in L.A.
John, how do you create connective tissue among agencies, entertainment, tech and brands?
John Boiler, founder/CEO, 72andSunny: It used to be that whenever you wanted to connect with celebrity or a media channel, it was a transaction. But now you really have to have a creative agenda. The reason why we’ve had some success is because we go with, like, five ideas that might help get everyone’s interest aligned and moving toward an abundance theory approach that we’re not going to fight over the pie, we’re going to make the pie bigger for everyone.
Leto: It is interesting, though, you have this wide-open world and people don’t take more chances. There are a lot of artists and celebrities who probably would want to work with you, but there isn’t the strongest bridge between some of you guys and the talent. People ask me all the time up north in tech for help or connections. I don’t get the sense that you guys are in tune with that how-to process, but there are definitely people out there who would be willing to experiment, and it’s a low, low risk as far as production and accessibility. I mean God, it used to cost a lot of money to do these things, right?
Goldman: And don’t you think there’s an expectation that whether it’s a piece of marketing material or just a piece of content that it will all be good content now because there’s this demand to share, right?