Jan Livingston left her position as creative director at 72andSunny over the summer, and today we got a release telling us where she went: she’s now a partner and co-founder at Rec Room, a branded content operation that launched in January.
Rec Room came to be eleven months ago in partnership with Big Picture Entertainment, the Culver City agency specializing in movie promo campaigns. Its founders (along with Livingston) are Jonathan Helfgot and Mike George; the former was a longtime film marketing executive with 20th Century Fox and Anschutz Film Group before he became head of creative strategy at Big Picture while the latter was a creative director at 20th Century Fox marketing who helmed the promos for such films as The Simpsons Movie, Avatar, Taken and the X-Men franchise.
A quick glance at the company’s list of co-founders provides context: they are longtime film producer Jack Giarraputo and Big Picture founder Ryan Hegenberger. The two launched Big Picture in 2003 after Giarraputo found success with production company Happy Madison.
But what does Rec Room make? So far in 2015, the company has produced “everything from original online videos promoting feature films to episodic series for television networks to branded online films”–but it doesn’t produce “advertisements.”
Livingston explains a bit more in her statement, writing:
“By bringing together talent from both the entertainment world and the brand marketing world we can solve one of the sticking points in creating branded content right now–agencies struggling to navigate the entertainment world, and the entertainment industry snubbing its nose at the ad world. The consumer doesn’t see any delineation between both worlds, and neither do we. They just want great entertainment.”
So Rec Room is a sort-of agency that produces non-traditional campaigns for entertainment clients. The company handles creative, strategy and production on its own, and the release tells us that it is currently working on projects like “an eight-episode series for a network for a budget that many brands would often spend on just one 30-second commercial.”
One can see the appeal. A recent example of Rec Room’s work was the April Fool’s Day promo for Deadpool, which saw Mario Lopez of Extra! play nice with Ryan Reynolds as the pair addressed the film’s (alleged) PG-13 rating. On the company’s work page, you may also find some of Livingston’s best-known ads from the nearly four years she spent with 72andSunny including the “Wallhuggers” and “Milk Music” campaigns for Samsung as well as Target’s “Holiday Hero.”
Livingston joined 72 in 2011 and ran creative on those two accounts. (Back in April, 72andSunny poached Nuno Ferreira of Leo Burnett to handle Target, so it would appear that her move had been in the works for some time.)
Regarding the new hire (which actually happened back in July), partner Helfgot writes, “This is an exciting step in our growth as an agency to welcome the creative talent Jan brings to our partnership. Her passion and ingenuity are unparalleled and we look forward to having her as an integral part of the Rec Room team.”
Prior to joining 72, Livingston held top creative positions at various agencies and production companies including Leo Burnett London/Chicago, McCann and FCB. Beyond Target and Samsung, she has worked on campaigns for Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Secret, Allstate and Delta Airlines (among others).