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From Halftime to Prime Time, TheBridge.Co Sets its Sights Higher


The creative and production collective is lining up its next opportunities to harness the power of music and social media for brand engagement

From Halftime to Prime Time, TheBridge.Co Sets its Sights Higher

Quick, who won Super Bowl LIV? If it took you a second to remember who played – much less who won – it certainly didn’t take you long to remember who performed: it was J. Lo and Shakira who split the uprights during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, generating more buzz, chatter, complaints and engagement than just about anyone other than Patrick Mahomes.

This observation is not lost on Mike Jurkovac, Igor Kovalik and Bill Boyd, founders and partners at TheBridge.Co. The New York, LA and London-based production and content company took the pervasive sizzle and broad demographic appeal of the Super Bowl’s Halftime Show and transformed it into a weekly extravaganza for ESPN’s 'Monday Night Football' and the luxury automotive brand Genesis.

Launched in time for the 2018 season and running until the midpoint in the 2019 season, the MNF Halftime Show featured standalone performances by an eclectic, genre-busting roster of musical artists, all with ties to the home city for each broadcast. The events helped drive awareness and social media engagement around the Korean nameplate to unheard of levels since it was first introduced in the US, increasing dealer inquiries and web site traffic with each airing – and, as an added bonus, they helped delivered #1 chart positions for several of the featured artists the day after the broadcast. 

As we move further into 2020, TheBridge.Co and its team of directors, producers and planners are busy setting in motion a series of projects that promise to deliver even more impressive metrics for its partners on the agency and client sides. 

Genesis isn’t the only category-defying brand integration project that bore the distinctive stamp of TheBridge.Co. Last year they partnered with Condé Nast and The Related Companies to launch the first-ever 'fashion show meets automotive unveiling' for the Mint, the Genesis EV concept car, which was held at The Vessel, the hottest destination in New York, smack in the midst of Hudson Yards.

There are many other examples. For Hearst, TheBridge.Co tapped its deep connections in the fashion and music industry to provide content for its Harper’s BAZAAR 'ICONS' by Carine Roitfeld event, held during New York Fashion Week. Directed and edited by Igor into a film running on the Genesis social media channels, the event featured a performance by Christina Aguilera and an After Party DJ’d by Questlove of The Roots. 

Indeed, much of their work has been directed by Mike or Igor, with other noted talents brought into the mix. The company often tag teams on projects, with various members (and guest artists) trading off different roles, much like a jazz sextet playing a late night gig at the Vanguard. (Check out their compilation reel here.) Their work defies any stylistic pigeonhole, other than to note that it represents visual storytelling that’s always beautifully shot, framed, paced and lit. (It should be; Mike spent ten years producing for the legendary still photographer and director Albert Watson before he ever stepped behind the lens himself, and Igor is an award-winning editor who also directs.)

More than just a production company, TheBridge.Co has been helping agencies and brands connect with artists via proprietary content, experiential events and strategic brand extensions since its founding in 2012. It’s a collective of directors, producers, writers, editors, imagemakers and new media specialists with extensive experience in strategy, media, technology, storytelling and business development. Together, they do more than conceive of and produce high-level, prestigious projects for brands; they often put the deals together behind the scenes to make them all come together.  

Just ask Manfred Fitzgerald, the former global brand chief of Genesis, who partnered with TheBridge.Co, along with the Genesis agency INNOCEAN, on a number of ambitious integrated projects. (That's Fitzgerald above, second from right, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay with, from left, Igor, Mike and Boyd.)

“The Monday Night Football Halftime Show would have never happened without Mike and TheBridge.Co,” he remarks. “Mike is able to connect the dots of complex projects like this in ways that most people wouldn’t even have thought of. The role he and his company played in bringing good people together to work on Genesis was essential to our success.”

“The packaging of talent and the bundling of deliverables is a key to what we do, and it’s been that way since day one,” says Mike. “It’s all about real integration and the ability to over-deliver. If an agency or a brand is talking about a TV campaign, we can give them the commercials, along with social content, a BTS mini-documentary, a print and out of home campaign, everything.

"We’re a problem-solving collective; that’s when we’re at our best,” adds executive producer Ernest Lupinacci. “We’ve been hired to act as not just the production company on some assignments but also handling talent negotiations, artist relations, music, edit, finish and delivery.” 

In many instances, TheBridge.Co taps its network of collaborators to provide a level of creative and strategic thinking that complements their ability to literally bridge industries, categories, disciplines and media channels. “My relationship with Mike revolves around partnership and collaboration,” says Joe Sciarrotta, deputy chief creative officer of Ogilvy Worldwide. “We talk about problems together, and Mike is honest about what he can deliver. I don’t think there’s anyone who can do what he does. Pulling off the MNF Halftime Shows was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat every week.” 

Its strength in tackling highly complex projects is just part of TheBridge.Co’s appeal, Joe adds. “They’re not looking at the past over there, they’re looking at new ways of working and new kinds of relationships,” he observes. “Today, to be effective, you need to have the right kinds of partners, and that’s what TheBridge.Co represents for me. I value their contributions and I value their talent.”

TheBridge.Co’s ability to straddle traditional ad genres as well as the worlds of pop music tie-ins, sponsorships, social content and live events has been proven repeatedly, whether that’s working with artists like Gwen Stefani and Andra Day and their teams to stage a live concert in Seoul attended by over 20,000 VIPs or connecting Justin Timberlake’s band, the Tennessee Kids, with FCA’s Ram Trucks to generate over 20 million online views almost overnight. 

Chuck McBride, founder and chief creative officer of the San Francisco independent agency Cutwater, has worked with Mike for years, going back to their days at TBWA\Chiat\Day on Levi’s, and he sees it this way: “Mike brings an altogether different level of resourcefulness to whatever he does.” 

Chuck sees Mike operating more like a music producer than a film producer, which has its benefits. “He’s always saying, ‘Hey, we can get this guy or that guy,’ and it’s like the music hustle – who can you get into the studio with you? What happens is that your project organically grows, and you end up building content around all these pieces, yet it’s still part of the same idea and the same strategy. It’s looking at cross-pollination in a totally different way.” 

The VAST digital ad unit, as seen on across a range of devices. 

As the company maps out its strategy for the coming year, its digital media arm, VAST, is busy putting into place a series of high-profile projects that are linked to its work for brands and agencies. Years in development, VAST is a propriety BrandTech platform that has to date delivered over 4.2 billion audited media impressions for its advertisers, media partners and buying agencies.

One of a number of properties under TheBridge.Co banner set to roll out this year, VAST represents yet another way this quiet company is re-writing the rules of just what a production company is all about.

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avagnoni communications, Wed, 04 Mar 2020 14:36:54 GMT