MTF’s 15 most creative minds for the ad industry in 2015

ADVERTISING: The following 15 individuals or groups combine innovative use of legacy and digital media, plus a dash of entertainment, to make their work engaging. Should appeal to advertisers searching for new ways to hook consumers…

MediaTainment Finance invites the advertising sector to get excited about the following high-achieving creative individuals (in alphabetical order) in 2015.

They are Zhang Bogun (photographer); James Carnes (Adidas); Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne (Public School); Theaster Gate (Rebuild Foundation); Michael Heyward (Whisper); Jepchumba (African Digital Art); Sophia Lindholm (ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors); Palmer Luckey (Oculus VR); Marc Newson (Apple); Mario Queiroz (Google); Trent Reznor (Beats Music); Adam Schokora, Jimi Zhang, Leon Yan, Taylor Shen (NeochaEDGE); Kara Walker (A Subtlety); Jill Wilfert (The Lego Movie); Pharrell Williams (i am Other). Below are snapshots of their respective accomplishments.

Zhang Bojun; photographer
WE (Beijing)
After seven years of taking photos of overcrowded streets in Chinese cities, Zhang extracted patterns from the shots to create photographic plaids that look like real woollen tartan tapestries when viewed from the distance. Zoom in to see each square inch is packed with millions of tiny people hurrying in different directions, a reflection of WE, the consumers, in any crowded street.

James Carnes; head of global design
ADIDAS GROUP (Herzogenaurach, Germany)
Global sports brand Adidas has had a hard time trying to outrun market-leading rival Nike. But, in the creativity stakes, Carnes made Adidas the frontrunner last year with its advanced technology. For footwear, Adidas’ Springblade features soles designed to propel sprinters forward; while the Boost (video) comes with shock-absorbent soles. And the sleek Brazuca soccer ball had FIFA World fans itching to play more of the beautiful game.

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne; fashion designers
After an award-winning track record, including the Vogue Fashion Fund and Swarovski prizes, Public School’s dynamic duo picked up the inaugural International Woolmark award for menswear this month (January), a prize that comes with substantial investment (US$80,000+) to boost their business. They should have fashion retailers seeking their street-cred cool banging on their doors.

Theaster Gates; artist, urban planner
Where people saw derelict urban spaces, Gates saw potential for cultural hubs that bring poverty-stricken communities together with local architects, artists, teachers and activists. Collectively, they develop arts-related activities that inspire residents of all ages to regenerate districts that local authorities have given up on. After success in his native Chicago, he has been invited to spread his innovation to other major US cities.

Michael Heyward; founder/CEO
WHISPER (Venice, California)
Instead of quietly wondering why privacy-sensitive people shouldn’t be able to share messages anonymously, Heyward did something about it with “incognito technology”. The two-year-old mobile app called Whisper allows you to share your secret thoughts in the privacy of your own app. Potentially ideal for testing what consumers really think about a new marketing message.

Jepchumba; founder/creative director
AFRICAN DIGITAL ART (Cape Town, South Africa)
Marketers seeking to tap into not only Africa’s economic growth but also the region’s creative talent could do worse than pay a visit to African Digital Art. The online cooperative was set up by Kenyan-born digital cultural curator Jepchumba to collate artistic talent from every country on the continent. This has seen her being name-checked in Forbes magazine, The Guardian, and other international media titles.

Sophia Lindholm; senior art director
FORSMAN & BODENFORS (Gothenburg, Sweden)
An agency trouper who knows how to meld media-and-entertainment to tell a gripping story such as the one starring movie action man Jean-Claude Van Damme as he effortlessly does the horizontal splits between two moving Volvo trucks with Enya singing serenely in the background. Sublime!

Palmer Luckey; founder
OCULUS VR (Irvine, California)
Luckey’s invention, the Oculus Rift headset, is the closest Virtual Reality has got to becoming a consumer-friendly… reality. The technology is so advanced, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg could no longer stay away, and paid an out-of-this-world US$2bn for Luckey’s company. Marketers must be dying to know how it will connect and communicate with consumers in a virtual world.

Marc Newson; industrial designer
APPLE (Cupertino, California)
Famous for his signature organic “biomorphic” style, the superstar industrial designer became an Apple employee last year. His job description at the ever secretive iPad maker is unknown. But his furniture and transport vehicles have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction sales. And he’s received the CBE honour from England’s Queen Elizabeth. Looks as if the Apple brand is getting more sophisticated.

Mario Queiroz; vice president of product management
GOOGLE (Menlo Park, California)
Google’s founding mantra might have been “Don’t be evil”, but the search-engine giant is doing some good in the smart-TV space. The cheap (US$35) Chromecast device spearheaded by Queiroz’ team at Google gives fickle Millennials, who like their TV anytime, anywhere, the option to watch smartphone video on the massive Internet-friendly flat screen TV inside the living room.

Trent Reznor; musician, composers, CCO
BEATS MUSIC (Culver City, California)
In addition to fronting Nine Inch Nails, the godfathers of industrial rock music, Reznor has gained kudos in the movie business for composing soundtracks to box-office hits like The Social Network and Gone Girl. Now, he’s the chief creative visionary behind Beats Music, the brand Apple is using to blast its way into the fast-growing streaming music sector.

Adam Schokora, Jimi Zhang, Leon Yan, Taylor Shen; founders
The mission of NeochaEDGE’s founders is to connect Chinese creative art to brands anywhere in the world. Brand owners and advertisers looking for Chinese-themed narratives for their marketing message can get the real thing via Schokora, Zhang, Yan and Shen. Multinational clients making use of the firm’s roster of artists include Coca-Cola, Nike and eBay.

Kara Walker; artist
A SUBTLETY [see photo below], or to give the sculpture its full title, the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant (New York City). For those who don’t want their brands’ message to be ignored.

Jill Wilfert; vice president for global licensing and entertainment
THE LEGO MOVIE (Billund, Denmark)
Think of the marketing potential of working with a company that made The Lego Movie, a Hollywood film created with nothing but interlocking toy bricks and earned a blockbuster US$468m in less than a year. Suddenly, the 66-year-old Danish invention has gained Big-Screen cachet.

Pharrell Williams; musician, entrepreneur
I AM OTHER (New York City)
A unique man who calls his company I am Other was born to create branded entertainment. Pharrell wrote, produced and sang Happy, one of the biggest selling singles of all time and a soundtrack from Universal Pictures’ animation comedy Despicable Me 2. It also became the soundtrack of the most original music video in decades. The man also owns brands, such as the clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Icecream.