The Napoleon Group is heading west, opening its first office outside of New York and launching a live action division via a new partnership with @LArge Productions + Post. The move comes six months after the veteran key art, test commercial and post production studio, a regular collaborator with Manhattan agencies for almost three decades, brought on new ownership and began retooling its offering for a changing ad content marketplace.
The new live action division will operate under the brand Napoleon@LArge and opens with the principals of Santa Monica-based @Large as equity partners. Founded in 2015 by Managing Director Tracy Mays and Executive Producers Beth Aranda and Ashley Hydrick, @LArge offers clients a full range of production through post services. It remains a wholly independent, women-owned company.
The launch of Napoleon@Large comes on the heels of The Napoleon Group’s welcoming a new partner earlier this year; Spiro Kafarakis took an ownership stake in the business in February after a long career as an Executive Producer and Managing Director of Operations at West Coast agencies Pitch, Tiny-Rebellion, Deutsch and others. As Chief Operating Officer, he’s now teamed with TNG Founder and Creative Director Marty Napoleon to execute a broad strategy designed to maintain Napoleon Group’s role as a trusted partner to major agencies, brands and media companies when it comes to the creation, testing, production, finishing and distribution of ad content.
Napoleon says the strategic thinking behind N@L was a natural extension of the studio’s ongoing relationships with agency creative and production teams. “We’ve always offered live action capabilities to our clients,” he comments. “As our industry moves towards content creation for all the different screen choices available today, we chose to create a line of business that’s laser focused on delivering that content. Having Spiro join our team really helped clarify how we wanted to address this going forward.”
“Napoleon is an amazing place with every toy you can possibly imagine,” adds Kafarakis, who first worked with the company as an agency client. “From our Flame and edit suites to our audio mixing and recording suites, motion capture stage, 2D and 3D CG departments and team of digital and sketch artists, this is a true idea factory where we can make or produce almost anything. Adding a fully integrated live action capability has been the missing piece of the puzzle. It just made sense for us to create this new entity to better serve new and existing clients.”
Kafarakis had worked with the @LArge team during his years on the agency side as well, and felt the two companies were perfectly matched for this new venture. “We’ve watched @LArge grow and we share similar values about client service, how to approach projects, the open nature of how we collaborate and how to nurture and support our staff,” he says. “What’s great about @LArge is that Tracy, Beth and Ashley all have different skill sets they’ve brought together to create an enhanced vision of live action production and post management, and we find that exciting. We’re eager to partner with them as we build this new entity.”
“I have worked with Spiro for many years,” comments @Large’s Mays. “He is visionary and strategic, and immediately understood our model. Once he joined Napoleon it was an easy and natural next step to create this new entity that blends our capabilities and approach to service clients that want to expand their collaboration with Napoleon to include production.”
Live action assignments that come in to Napoleon@LArge will be handled by a range of directorial talents. “We’ll be selecting directors based on recommendations of the N@L team, drawing from a talent pool offered by @Large,” Napoleon says. This includes Vadim Perelman, Goetz Brothers, David Popescu and Liz Hinlein, among others. In addition, @Large offers a roster of non-traditional directorial options that hail from outside the advertising mainstream, including John Singleton.
“Our model, which also defines work through N@L, is a producer driven, resource-rich approach,” elaborates Beth Aranda, EP of @LArge Productions. “We curate the best director for each project based on the creative demands of the job. It’s about the whole experience and process, not just selling an individual director. We’re excited to partner with Spiro, Marty and everyone at N@L to make this complete resource available to their clients.”
Located in Santa Monica, N@L will be led locally by Jamie Davidson, Business Development Manager. “Jamie will be spearheading not only the growth of our live action division but will also work to expand our market for test spots, art frames, character design and the full spectrum of our services for West Coast agencies,” says Kafarakis. “It’ll be like working with Napoleon in New York, but only sunnier.”