How Anouk Jans and Togetherr burst the industry bubble
As part of our Taboo Focus, we speak to the people behind the Cannes-premiered convention-questioning documentary, Kill Your Darlings, about why now was the time to challenge advertising's modus operandi.
Halfway through Cannes Lions 2022, the advertising community's long-awaited celebration of creativity and, for this year, a return to normality, a tech company named Togetherr and German CD Anouk Jans premiered a documentary that questioned the very nature of the industry.
Featuring contentious interviews with industry legends including Scott Galloway, Cindy Gallop, Fernando Machado, Rob Reilly and more, Kill Your Darlings was as much a clever piece of branded content for a company attempting to redefine the sector as it was a warning shot across the bow of the traditional model.
Starring Jans as she questions her future in the job, the film creates an interesting throughline with its numerous high-profile talking heads, culminating in an honest climax that cements its authenticity.
We spoke to Amir Guy, GM of Togetherr, and Per Pedersen, Executive Creative Director on the project, to ask why now was the time to confront the taboo that the status quo might be outdated.
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What was the initial impetus for the film? How did it come together?
Amir Guy, GM of Togetherr: We were looking for a creative way to talk to the ad industry about Togetherr and the reason for which it was founded. Capturing the attention of the ad industry is no easy task, and so we wanted to do it in an emotional and meaningful way. Togetherr is a solution for an industry that needs to fundamentally change the way it works with its clients and talent. The conversations around this need to change, and the reasons for why we need to change have been going around our industry for the past decade.
I love when documentaries are seen through the eyes of someone relatable.
We wanted to capture these conversations in an interesting way and tell the story of the new creatives who are redefining our industry. Beyond creating momentum around togetherr, this film will be a valuable artifact in the future as it captures a particular moment in time in our industry, as told by some of its leading visionaries.
Per Pedersen, Executive Creative Director of Kill Your Darlings: We wanted to start an important conversation about a critical time of change within the creative industry. The industry is losing talent and we have to start doing things differently.
It’s not a doom and gloom story, more a declaration of love to creativity and a story of hope intended to inspire the viewer to take part in the change.
Why did you choose for the film to have a ‘protagonist’? Was there a discussion about making the film about the industry without the personal reaction?
AG: We wanted the film to be authentic. We thought the story of the ad industry should be told through someone who represents the future of the industry, a talent who represents the most important people to our industry - the creative talent. A group of creatives that our industry can either lose forever or follow towards a different, brighter future.
PP: I personally love when documentaries are seen through the eyes of someone relatable. It is just a much more engaging way to tell a story than throwing a bunch of facts at the viewer.
How did you go about choosing the interviewees? Were there any that turned you down?
AG: There are different views, sometimes even colliding views on the paths our industry should take into the future. We wanted all of these views to be well represented in the film. It was important to get the leaders of the industry, the ones who shaped it for the last few decades, and also the ones who are trying to redefine it these days. We chose some of the most inspiring people because we wanted our film to inspire.
I don’t recall anyone turning us down, which was a good sign for us that we are indeed making an important film for the industry. Everyone cared about this film. Obviously, we had many more that wanted to take part in the film. We could have made a full-feature length film.
PP: One of the first things we did in the planning was to outline a dream team of people that all could play a key role in the film. We still have the board with all the names and photos.
Were you ever worried about the contentious content? Do you feel that the film breaks some taboos?
AG: We were aiming to steer up the conversation. We wanted this film to create some waves. It did. There were some strong words in the film from people like Scott Galloway, Cindy Gallop basically saying that we are doomed, outdated.
It was important to get the leaders of the industry, the ones who shaped it for the last few decades, and also the ones who are trying to redefine it these days.
There are important clients in the film saying that agencies are not fit for purpose anymore. These are quite controversial words.
PP: A lot of the topics and themes touched on in this film will ruffle feathers. We are featuring some of the most opinionated personalities of the industry and they are not holding back.
The film has a narrative arc, culminating in Anouk quitting her job. Was that on the cards to begin with? How do you feel the film would be structured were this not the case?
PP: This is a non-scripted documentary where we kept everything open. Going into the project we had no idea where this would end.
That’s the beauty of this way of telling the story and hopefully the viewers feel the authenticity.
Obviously, Togetherr has a stake in this game, being a disruptor in the market. Did that have any effect on the people you spoke to or the comments used?
AG: I don’t believe it did. When we asked these people to partake in the film, we explained what Togetherr is, and the problem the platform is trying to solve for – so pretty much, off the bat, people felt comfortable with the film and the questions asked.
The launch during Cannes Lions week was overwhelming.
PP: All the people featured in the film were picked because they contribute to better understanding where the creative industry is heading and the challenges we face.
What has been the industry reaction so far?
AG: 100% love, feeling inspired, and energized. And more optimistic about the future of the industry. Change is coming.
PP: The launch during Cannes Lions week was overwhelming. It was talk of the town. On top of that we are constantly receiving positive and often very emotional reactions from people that watched the film.
I’m sure this will continue for quite a while.