Igniting Passion through Creativity

Ignition Creative
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Ingenious integrated marketing agency Ignition Creative uses multiple platforms to take storytelling to a new level. The company develops campaigns that are designed to engage audiences, in media-driven storytelling experiences like no other.
Ignition fuses branding and entertainment to ignite a sense of passion while actualizing a creative vision. The company has grown significantly since it was founded in 2003 and has built an extensive portfolio of incredibly successful campaigns for high-profile clients and properties. In doing so, it has redefined the brand experience.

This is a full-service creative advertising agency whose performance speaks for itself. The company helps its clients and industry partners to navigate an increasingly complex media environment. It more effectively engages and connects audiences to brands and products through a dynamic and multifaceted approach.

“Since day one, the creative quality is absolutely the number one priority,” recalled CEO and Chief Creative Officer Martin Kistler. “When we started, it was always, ‘Let’s do the best work we can possibly do, and the money will follow.’”

“Right after school I had my first opportunity to try my hand at some design on commercials and films, and then, pretty quickly, I had a friend who was working at a studio give me the opportunity to work on the advertising campaign for a film, and that sort of started it all,” Kistler said.

Kistler, a licensed architect from Switzerland, came to L.A. to study and became immersed in the world of experimental product and production design. He has cultivated Ignition from a one-man enterprise to a creative team of 220, and though its scale has changed, its approach to business and creativity has not.

In the early years, projects consisted mostly of audiovisual storytelling but grew to include a print design component. Kistler, recognizing a shift in the media landscape, made a decision to develop the company into a fully integrated agency.

“We started a digital division, and that was really pioneer work,” Kistler noted. “One of the first things we did was just a website for the animated movie Up, and then in time the clients who were asking for individual campaign pieces started requesting full campaigns that had some strategy, really adding value to all the different entertainment properties.”

Ignition expanded its capabilities, finding innovative ways to bring ideas, products, brands and visions to life. Today, it offers strategy, print, audiovisual, digital, social, motion design, music, post-production, sound, computer generated (CG) visual effects and physical production in one seamless package. Drawing on these capabilities, it has delivered award-winning campaigns for film, television and blue chip companies.

Ignition has also added a team that provides research and strategy. “Our strategy team not only services the clients, sometimes they just service us,” Chief Operating Officer Carrie Wiltshire noted. Its market research and insight can inform the creative direction and the target demographic to which campaigns are geared. Post-campaign launch, analytics and social listening are used to track the effectiveness of campaigns and optimize as necessary.

The first comprehensive marketing campaign to showcase the agency’s range of skills was developed for the movie The Hunger Games in collaboration with the client Lions Gate. Ignition delved into the details and characteristics of the world of The Hunger Games to capture the imagination of audiences and immerse them in the world of The Capitol.

“Lion’s Gate and Ignition were able to create such an interesting universe for that property that really served as an eye-opener for a lot of other marketing teams, and that opened a lot of doors for integrated marketing,” explained Kistler.

It is, explained Kistler, a collaborative approach. “Three years ago, we formed a dedicated team – the integrated marketing team – which works with all the different creative directors and creatives from each division. They’re really leading that charge.”

Ignition’s diverse team of artists including strategists, writers, creative directors, AV editors, photographers, print and motion graphic designers, physical, digital and post-production producers, composers, music supervisors, technologists and social media gurus are based in the agency’s Playa Vista headquarters and London office. The team’s expertise has grown from primarily film, VOD platforms, music and television to include other industries and brands such as live theater, gaming, consumer products, apparel, sports franchises and more.

Ignition’s work on NikeID is one example of how the agency has applied a theatrical approach to the brand world. Rather than use flashy clips of slam dunks and three-point shots, LeBron James’s humble return to Cleveland inspired Ignition to create LeBron 12 iD content using real people and real stories from the city. Taking to the streets of Cleveland and Akron, the agency found 12 individuals who embodied LeBron’s spirit of heroism and captured it through videos and custom NIKEiD LeBron 12’s.

“Another example is that for the NBA finals, we shot six different co-branded TV spots in one day for our clients at ESPN,” said Kistler. “We concepted the spots, created the back plates, shot the commercials and did all the CG work; really taking it from ideation to market all under one roof. That’s something I don’t think too many people could compete with.”

“We’re fortunate enough to have a full-scale physical production division, so now we are constantly doing live shoots. That just evolved the integrated marketing division of our company as well because it can support everything from tip to tail,” Wiltshire explained. “We’ve been shooting a lot of very complex CG-driven productions all over the country.”

Among the suite of in-house capabilities that Ignition offers to its clients is Playa Studios, a conveniently located full-service photo studio that enables the company to be even more nimble and responsive to its clients’ needs. The studio can do everything and provides an integral part of Ignition’s services.

By providing a full range of creative development, strategy, design and production services in-house, Ignition gives clients a cost savings and efficiency that could not be derived from outsourcing to multiple parties, and it maintains full creative control throughout the entire process to ensure that the creative vision maintains its integrity from concept to execution.

Ignition is collaboration in action and its success across its many divisions is a testament to its approach. The integrated approach “really brings together the right brain and the left brain so that the big ideas that drive our campaign success maintain every bit of their creativity throughout the production process,” noted VP of Integrated Marketing Callie de Quevedo. “We have creative directors working side-by-side with technologists to inspire storytelling through innovation and leverage the strengths of new media platforms.”

“It took a while for everybody to understand how to work together as a team. The creative drive comes from the passion and pride inside every single person here and it really shows in the quality of their work. The credit goes out to them.” Kistler said.

Wiltshire noted how the company inspires creativity and drive. “We really take pride in who we bring in. It starts from entry-level positions coming in. We’re a shop that promotes from within, so we spend a lot of time working with people and training them, teaching them, letting them have their hands in the overall creative process.”

Ignition has also developed an active internship program that also serves workforce development. “We’ve had great success, growing talent and promoting from within which creates tremendous loyalty and in turn achieves consistency, said Kistler. “And consistency is one of the keys to quality.”

He emphasized that chemistry plays a very important role in the company’s overall success. “You can have very creative people, but if it doesn’t work together as a team or if culturally it doesn’t fit, it’s not good. I always believed the best advertising, the best sales tool for a company is to have the right culture because then it inspires the right creativity and it helps to attract talent which will, in turn, attract the right clients,” stated Kistler.

Perhaps the most important work being done is through Ignition’s annual holiday gift-giving initiative, which honors clients with donations in their names to the digital arts and media program at Alliance Morgan McKinzie High School, a charter school located in East L.A. Ignition’s new spin on holiday giving will invest in the development of creativity in underserved students. The program provides students with an outlet to enrich their artistic talents. The school’s art program was in desperate need of funding and through this initiative, Ignition has been able to enhance the quality of instruction and the resources available to students.

It continues to identify new ways to utilize tools, technology, innovation and creativity to expand and push the limits of what is possible. If you can think it, Ignition can make your vision a reality. The company can connect brands with audiences in ways never before seen, creating a fully immersive brand experience.

“We want to continue on the path we are now. I would never want to sacrifice any of the values we’ve discussed, but of course, we must never be complacent. We always have to look to the future. Our main strength is storytelling, so I feel like that is something, no matter how much technology evolves, that will always be needed,” Kistler said, and Ignition is poised to satisfy that role.



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