David Droga, John Boiler and more advertising icons star in new documentary

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 1 June 2020

A full-length documentary, presented by WP Engine, the WordPress Digital Experience Platform (DXP), which explores the history of modern advertising and the role that creative technology played in its evolution has been released online.

The film, make|SHIFT, highlights the makers, agencies, and brands who had the courage to harness new technology, test business models, and question the status quo. 

WP Engine worked with September Club and HeyLet’sGo! to create this feature-length film, directed by Casey Suchan, who previously directed Rock The Bells, a Warner Brothers documentary on the final performance of hip-hop artists Wu-Tang Clan and produced a series of best-selling documentaries on hip hop culture.

The make|SHIFT documentary features more than 40 of the top marketing and tech minds in the industry, from developers to designers to creative directors to founders at some of the most innovative agencies in the world, both small and large, digital and traditional.

The film, released on May 28, is being streamed on makeshift.film.

“These are challenging and uncertain times we’re in. This film, about adaptability in the face of an ever-shifting digital landscape, showcases the creatives who dare to say ‘yes’ before something is completely ready, and stretch ideas to new applications," WP Engine chief marketing officer Mary Ellen Dugan says.

"This need for digital creativity is even more relevant now in a post-COVID world. As an open-source, WordPress digital platform, we wanted to explore and celebrate the agencies who lead with technology first.

"make|SHIFT is dedicated to the power of creative technology and the agencies who have always been at the forefront of change and who will always be there to help us press ahead.”

From the heyday of TV advertising to the dawn of the Internet and the rise of the digital experience, make|SHIFT explores the art and science behind the advertising industry’s 20-plus year evolution.

The film is a story about the agencies and makers behind some of the world’s most successful brands.

WP Engine interviewed a range of leaders and pioneers who helped advertising evolve from the “Mad Men” era of one-to-many advertising to an age of targeted micro-campaigns that are created in hours and where technology and social media have democratized the industry by giving consumers the power to determine how, when and where they connect with a brand.

The film shows how creative technologies drove a shift from pushing messages through TV, radio, print and outdoor ads to delivering increasingly engaging, immersive and valuable digital experiences to consumers.

“There has never been a more important time for brands to embrace the power of creative technology. With the advent of the ‘stay at home’ customer, the first and last mile of the customer journey have transformed brands and customer relationships forever,” says Steven Moy, CEO at full-service creative agency Barbarian.

“Brands need to find new ways to stand out and reclaim these relationships in this new reality. What I love most about the film is its inspiring look at how creativity has evolved with technological innovation over time, and how our industry has always been there to meet the rapidly changing customer needs.

"Through creative technologies such as AR/VR, brands can reimagine their customers’ homes as the new retail channel since these customers aren’t able to experience products and services in person. We need that resilient, passionate and curious mindset more than ever today as we strive to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.”

Agencies featured include 10up, 72andSunny, Active Theory, Barbarian, Crispin Porter Bogusky, Crowd Favorite, Digital Kitchen, Droga5, Elephant, Havas, Hello Monday, HUGE, Humanaut, Instrument, Johannes Leonardo, MediaMonks, Organic, Pereira O’Dell, Sid Lee USA, Unit9, The Venturous, The Webby Awards and Wieden+Kennedy.

Agency founders in the documentary include Alex Bogusky (Crispin Porter Bogusky), John Boiler (72andSunny), David Droga (Droga5), Piero Frescobaldi (Unit9), Jake Goldman (10up), Justin Lewis (Instrument), David Littlejohn (Humanaut), Karim Marucci (Crowd Favorite), Nick Mountford (Active Theory), PJ Pereira (Pereira O’Dell), Nick Strada (The Venturous), Wesley ter Haar (MediaMonks) and many other industry leaders.

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