Magazine article Variety

Savvy Style Makes Spots Sing

Magazine article Variety

Savvy Style Makes Spots Sing

Article excerpt

In the crowded world of creative marketing, standing above the crowd requires a unique artistic approach and insight into the minds of audiences.

Take Pongo. Like all producers of spots, the studio's mission is to sell the unique merits of the programs being advertised. But over the course of its 25 years in the business, the L.A.-based creative marketing agency has developed its own brash, one-of-a-kind audiovisual signature.

One of the company's hallmarks is something it likes to call the "Pongo push" - an ever-so-brief pause in the action where the frame does a quick zoom-in.

"It's a visual moment that grabs your attention," says Pongo founder, CEO and president Tom McGough. "It takes a breath for a joke, or a beat for a visual reaction onscreen. It's a way of turning up the heat. It's in your face."

But the defining characteristic of their work is more the overall Pongo punch than any single artistic device.

"Our cuts are like an aggressive Phil Spector 'wall of sound,"' says Cary Sachs, chief marketing officer and senior VP of Pongo, who joined the company in 2005. "It's the power editing that sets us apart."

Pongo specializes in slam-bang promos, on-air campaigns, sizzle reels, radio spots and integrated brand marketing campaigns for clients ranging from Disney, ABC and the Game Show Network to Subway, Michelin and Nestle.

Although its 15-person staff works on spots for dramas on occasion, the studio's true métier is comedy.

"Comedy is the hardest to cut, and the people who do it really well are few and far between, and they're absolutely one of the best," says Garen Van de Beek, exec VP and creative director of CBS Marketing Group, a regular client. "They bring a cer- tain kind of frenetic energy to their cuts."

The style works well with cable channel Disney XD, which has used Pongo on numerous spots over the years, including its recent "Show Me the Monday" campaign.

"We had a company do the original packaging, then Pongo took it to a higher level of fun and randomness that was great," says Jill Hotchkiss, VP of marketing and creative for Disney XD at Disney ABC Television Group. "Their graphics are unexpected. There are goldfish flying in the air and llamas that appear."

Given Pongo's madcap style, it seems appropriate that McGough named the company after the canine patriarch in Disney's "101 Dalmatians," a breed of dog renowned for its inexhaustible energy.

But unlike its fictional four-legged counterpart, Pongo's wild rhythms are carefully plotted - often before the first image is added to the edit.

"I'm laying down a cut right now, and there's no video," Sachs says. …

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