Order the Sancerre & Other Advice

ADitudes is a new regular column by individuals who work in Chicago’s advertising community. It can take the form of anything that the author wishes to share, be it inspiration, humor, rant or what have you. For our inaugural installment, a touch of wisdom for fledgeling producers from VSA Partners Executive Director of Production, Ashley Geisheker.

After many years and many good (as well as a few less good) productions, I’ve learned a lot. Below are a few pieces of advice that I wish I could tell my 24-year-old self when I started in this business. These are simply a few tenets I’ve come to live by (er, work?) as a producer, some advice on all things from maintaining the integrity of an ad’s story to surviving an ad-mergency.

Ashley Geisheker
Ashley Geisheker

Always Be Producing
Production is not your typical 9-5 job. If you need to stay late to wrap the session or make sure the creative is working just right, then so be it. People will reach out at odd times looking for answers or help, and jumping in — even on the weekend — will go a long way.

Take Risks
The amount of talent within this profession is astounding. Getting comfortable and working with the same people again and again means you’re doing a disservice to your team and your work.

Similarly, it’s important to be open to different outlets of technology — VR, AR, AI are all mediums that you should be thinking about and crafting your work for. There’s no shortage of ways for people to interact with your ad, and having different technologies at our disposal is only going to make them more powerful.

Story Comes First
And while all these different formats exist at our disposal, it’s crucial that the story itself still remains the most important thing at your ad’s core.

A strong point of view is more important now than ever before, as people have shorter attention spans and engage multiple screens at almost any given moment. You may have :90, :60, :30 and :15 versions of your spot, but also consider telling the story as a digital animation, social gif, or a brick-and-mortar experience. It requires a strong core story and message that must be smartly executed in different ways to be its most powerful.

Just imagine how amazing the old Volkswagon Snow Plow ad could have translated into VR or short form social content. It could be executed cleverly in a myriad ways today.

Domaine Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc (winesdirect.ie)
Domaine Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc (winesdirect.ie)

Have a Real Conversation
Pick up the phone. Walk over to the Creative Director. So much is lost in translation in emails and online chats that you end up wasting time and getting misinterpreted feedback. People in advertising are fun, so go talk to them.

Plan A is Going to Fail
Every production is different. There will be things beyond your control. There will be no way to predict the mesh of personalities on set. But that’s the beautiful thing about the process — you learn something different on every single shoot no matter the size. Over time, you’ll end up with a great arsenal of solutions from previous shoots that can [hopefully] get you out of any bad situation.

Order the Sancerre at Lunch
You can also get an Arnold Palmer — those, too, are delicious. This goes along with point #1 — we don’t work a steady 40 hours a week in this business. So when the opportunity arises to play hard after you’ve worked hard, take it. Everyone appreciates and deserves the human side of the business, as long as we’re doing it responsibly.

Have a Good Bad-Joke in Your Back Pocket
More often than not, long hours, bored creatives and frustrating emails can lead to tension on set or in a session. Having a zinger ready to throw out to the team helps lighten the mood, and usually loosens everyone up. Here’s one of mine you can borrow: “Two peanuts were walking in the forest and one was a salted.”

You’re welcome.

Ashley Geisheker | Associate Partner, Executive Director of Production | VSA Partners
Since joining VSA Partners in 2015, Ashley Geisheker has spearheaded the development of the agency’s production department. She has worked with clients including AB InBev, Hayneedle.com, Marvin Windows & Doors, among others. Prior to joining VSA, Geisheker oversaw broadcast at Cavalry as Executive Producer, including most notably managing production for the Coors Family of Brands. Geisheker has also held production roles at Y&R and Energy BBDO, working with clients including Wrigley, Hotels.com and Sears. Her work has been recognized in some of the industry’s top honors, including Cannes, The One Show and the Effies.