Robin Shenfield, Co-Founder and CEO of The Mill, is the
Chairperson of the 2018 AICP Show: The Art & Technique of the American
Commercial. The AICP Show is one of the tent-pole events of AICP Week, which
also includes the debut of the AICP Next Awards, as well as various creative
and educational sessions at the AICP Week Base Camp.
The AICP Show debuts on June 14th at The Museum
of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, before going on tour around the U.S. and
other countries – for more information, click here. Robin recently sat down and
answered some questions about his tenure as Show Chair.
What was your reaction
when you learned that AICP wanted you to Chair this year’s AICP Show?
Excited and honored of course but above all I saw this as
recognition of all that The Mill has contributed to the industry since we
opened the first of our US studios sixteen years ago.
You’re one of the first
Chairs to come from a digital/visual effects production background. What does
your selection say about the changing nature of how brand content is made
The best creative opportunities are ahead of us. I really
believe that. New technology is creating new storytelling formats, some of
which come and go before we’ve even fully registered them. These don’t
make obsolete the amazing skills that exist in our industry. On the contrary,
their success utterly relies on the creativity, craft and dedication that we
celebrate in the AICP Show. Given all the recent debate about personal data
driving ad impressions and transactions, it could be tempting to take a
downbeat view on future creative opportunities. That would be a mistake. For
sure, there are big changes happening but there is much to be excited about.
AICP merged with the
post production trade association AICE at the start of this year, which means
AICP now encompasses both production and post production members. What does
suggest about where the industry is headed?
The industry we are all so privileged to work in needs
constant support and advocacy. From production, through editorial, post, visual
effects, digital and experiential. The creation of one organization with the
capability to champion the breadth of our industry is a giant step forward.
Chairing the AICP Show really brings that home to you. This is the 27th year of
artful, culture-defining advertising work being honored at MoMA. This is never
something we just take for granted; the great spectrum of skill that exists in
our industry needs to be constantly protected and supported.
What goals or
objectives have you shared with the Show committee? The Mill will be doing
titles for the Show. Any glimpses into the process?
The top priority for the Committee is to ensure that the
best work gets entered. Simple, yes? In practice, no because the budgets
available for entries to award shows are shrinking. Everyone needs reminding of
the unique place that the AICP Show occupies; celebrating the process by which
great ideas are executed to a brilliant level. The Committee are the unsung
heroes of the Show, chasing down people to enter work, providing input into the
experts who winnow a huge number of entries into a shortlist for the Curatorial
Committee. Over at Mill NY, a team are working to create the titles for the Show
taking a highly unconventional approach. It involves a combination of AI and
real-time technology. It should be fun though with the serious intent to show
that innovation from many places can be creatively inspiring. I just hope
it works on the night!
When The Mill first
entered the US market back in the early aughts, did you ever imagine the company
would occupy the place it does in our industry today? What’s been most
gratifying about The Mill’s success in the US?
From the very earliest days of The Mill I wanted us to have
a presence in the US. Rather pointless debate used to rage at Cannes about the
work of the UK industry vs. the US. Which was best? It was such nonsense
because, advertising then, as now, was becoming increasingly global with the US
leading the way. In the US there is a readiness to experiment. I have always
admired that. I think we brought something creatively new to the US, a
different aesthetic. That we are in the US at all, by the way, is remarkable.
Our investors in 2001 were resolutely opposed to the idea but fortunately two
kind Mill patrons Jon Kamen and Frank Scherma gave us temporary home and that
was that. I was able to deny having opened in New York at all for at least six
months. By which time, no would could deter us from staying! Given all that has
happened since, this still makes me smile.