Havas, Escape Pod, MIFF, Thor, Larry David in the news

Anna Parker

Anna Parker

Anna Parker promoted to Chief Strategy Officer at Havas

Havas Chicago announced that it has promoted Anna (Newburn) Parker to Chief Strategy Officer. She joins Havas Chicago’s executive leadership team which includes Paul Marobella, Jason Peterson, Tatia Torrey, Jennifer Marszalek, Lisa Evia and Angelo Kritikos.

Considered a major contributor to the transformation of the Havas Chicago Village, Parker has helped the agency grow, change and adapt to be the best partner for the modern CMO and brands. In her six years at the agency, she’s built a social-first program that eliminates rhetoric and prioritizes original insights.

“Anna has the rare combination of hunger, hustle and humility paired with a distinct and effective take on strategy that gives our clients an unfair advantage in their markets,” said Tatia Torrey, President and Chief Client Officer of Havas Chicago. “She has been an impactful part of the transformation of Havas Chicago, as one of the most modern agencies in America, and I couldn’t be happier to announce her new role on the executive team in Chicago.”

Under her guidance, Havas has become less reliant on syndicated research and copy-heavy briefs. Instead, her team focuses on first party data, real time insight from social listening and analytics, and proprietary research executed at both the global and hyper-local levels. By prioritizing subcultures and desires – rather than segments and demographics – along with asking better questions, Anna’s team is able give brands the most authentic insights and connection with consumers.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned through my experience at Havas is legitimacy,” said Parker. “Everything we produce as an agency – events, thought leadership, experiences – creates a dataset we can learn from and leverage. I believe that if you haven’t personally spent time in conversations or experiences with consumers, you can’t bring forward meaningful insights.”

Havas modern marketing model allows Parker’s team to move quickly, while leveraging technology and social platforms to generate original content and real-time human insights. She uses tools – Mobile Ethnography, Annex Reports, and Social Listening and Analytics – to bring great American brands closer to culture and their consumers in more meaningful ways.

With more than 14 years of experience in the media and advertising industry, Parker has worked on leading retail and CPG brands including Craftsman, Hefty, Coca Cola, Dish, Autozone, Kraft, REI, Volkswagen and the California Milk Processor Board (got milk?).

Johnson promoted to SVP Director of Accounts at Escape Pod

The Escape Pod announced that it has promoted Matthew Johnson to SVP Director of Accounts, responsible for overseeing the agency’s Client Services and Media teams.

Matthew Johnson
Matthew Johnson

“Matthew is an invaluable member of The Escape Pod’s leadership team,” says Norm Bilow, Managing Director and Co-founder of The Escape Pod. “Our clients trust him to steward their business with integrity and efficiency, and his work ethic is second to none. He cares more than any other person I’ve ever worked with and that has translated into valuable, long-term client relationships and growth for The Escape Pod. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with Matthew’s combination of marketing and media expertise, along with a killer sense of humor.”

Throughout his career, Johnson has championed challenger brands, fueling the growth of such brands as Corona, EGO Power+ and a2 Milk Company. Prior to joining The Escape Pod, Matthew served in senior Media roles at PHD and Cramer-Krasselt, creating award-winning work for OfficeMax, Hormel, Corona, Career Builder, ABN AMRO Bank, and St. Pauli Girl.

“Being part of The Escape Pod since its inception has been an incredibly fun ride, and I am thrilled that Norm and Vinny invited me be part of it. Our consistent growth over ten years from small boutique to “Ad Age Midwest Small Agency of the Year” shows that our passion for producing breakthrough creative that delivers results for our clients is resonating,” said Johnson.

MIFF names new temporary director

Emmy-nominated cinematographer, Mike Kwielford, has been named Interim Director of the Midwest Independent Film Festival, replacing Mike McNamara, who stepped down Friday for personal reasons.

Mike Kwielford
Mike Kwielford

“Kwiel,” as he’s known in the industry, started his filmmaking career in 1995 while a student at Columbia College Chicago.

Kwiel is also an owner of Chicago’s Potenza Productions whose films include multi-award winning Wednesday’s Child (2012), The Chef Whisperer (2015) which screened at the 2015 James Beard Awards, and Emmy nominated dance film Emergence (2017).

Kwielford was chosen to lead one of the nation’s premier independent film festivals because of his experiences as a filmmaker and cinematographer, his abilities stemming from operating a successful production company, and his status in the community according to a statement.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival will present the ninth annual Advertising Community Shorts Night on Tuesday November 7, 2017. The event spotlights some of the most exciting collaborations between the advertising and independent filmmaking communities. Doors open for a reception at 6 p.m. Producers Panel titled, “Music & Your Movie,” to follow.

Screening will begin at 7:30pm followed by a Q&A and after party.

God of Thunder reigns at Box Office

Disney-Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok lowered the hammer on the box office this weekend with a muscular opening weekend of $121 million at 4,080 North American locations — the fourth best launch of 2017.

The third Thor movie is also putting an emphatic end to the month-long box office slump that saw the worst October in a decade. Among 2017 titles, its debut weekend trails only Beauty and the Beast at $174.8 million, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at $146.5 million and “It” at $123.4 million.

The Taika Waititi-helmed film also officially launches the holiday season. Movie going has been battered this year by a subpar second half that’s pulled down 2017 grosses by 5%.

"Thor: Ragnarok"
“Thor: Ragnarok”

STXfilms’ R-rated A Bad Moms Christmas, which opened Wednesday, is heading for a respectable $21.6 million at 3,615 sites for its first five days.

Audiences and critics have responded with plenty of enthusiasm. Thor: Ragnarok received an A CinemaScore from audiences, marking the 13th consecutive A-range CinemaScore for Marvel Studios. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 93%, making it one of the most well-reviewed Marvel Cinematic Universe titles.

The Chicago-set A Bad Moms Christmas sequel was produced for $28 million, with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn returning to star as under-appreciated and over-burdened women. Their mothers, played by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon, show up unexpectedly for the Christmas season in Chicago. Critics were unimpressed with a 32% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rounding out the top five, were previous box office winners Lion’s Gate’s Jigsaw and Boo 2! A Madea Halloween— took the third and fourth spots Warner Bros.’ third frame of Geostorm followed in fifth with $3 million at 2,666 venues for a disappointing total of $28.8 million.

Larry David on SNL

Did you see Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David on SNL this weekend? Well true to form his mention of the Holocaust got him into hot water with the Anti-Defamation League. But this is what The Reel loved. Here, David plays a pony-tailed ad exec being honored for the great work he did in the 80s. He reminded me of so many people I worked with.

Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.