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Goldie Robbens: Making Curious Ideas Possible

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Uncommon head of production Goldie Robbens on achieving groundbreaking status and why she loves to indulge in the unknown

Goldie Robbens: Making Curious Ideas Possible

At OKAY STUDIO we’ve become known for eye-opening campaigns, made by creatives that go that little bit further - ensuring that the work really means something. 

We believe that advertising, and film in particular, has the power to enact cultural shifts that will take us closer to a society that is fairer for all. That is why we are thrilled to support this LBB interview series to hear about our industry peers’ favourite ground-breaking work, the kind of pieces that make you stop and think.

In this interview, Uncommon head of production Goldie Robbens shares her thoughts on breaking taboos, shifting culture and what campaigns have left a lasting impression.


LBB> Let’s start at the beginning - at what point did you first know that a career in this industry was the right path for you?

 Goldie> That came in my last year of university - powerful moments that have always stuck with me. As part of the cultural side of my degree we specifically studied how the media and film industry portrayed the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. And there was a shock advertising module. Both of them made me realise the power of those industries, for both good and bad. Straight out of uni, getting into the industry was my goal, I wanted to be part of that effect, for the better.

 

LBB> As a producer, what motivates you?

Goldie> Every single production is unique and you can never get bored (I know every producer says it but I don’t care, it’s true), coupled with the excitement of working with such talented artists at every step of the process. It’s always an intense process and you come out of each production with new friends, new inspirations, new ways of thinking. It’s a career that builds you on a personal level time after time.

 

LBB> You mention that you love indulging in the unknown and figuring out how to make such curious ideas possible. What does that mean for you?

Goldie> It’s when at first glance you can’t give an obvious answer to the creative in front of you. Be it for any reason; it’s against all the rules/ verging on illegal, it’s financially impossible, it’s never been done before, it’s not what “we” do. I love taking it away, playing detective, calling people in my black book and getting clued up. In my experience the Recalling 1993 campaign I worked on for the New Museum in NYC was all of that. Without the genius inquiring minds of that team the idea would never have been pulled off.


LBB> Great advertising has the ability to break social taboos, and transform society. Looking back, was there a particular campaign or piece of work which really resonated with you in your formative years?

Goldie> Dove has an incredible history of challenging negative stereotypes and holding that mirror up to the consumer. That’s the power and effect I was saying I felt at university, where we can be making a difference. Inspire people to stop and think, deeply, to start a conversation, maybe even action. The real beauty sketches, evolution, real women campaigns and more. Sadly all these years on these campaigns are still needed, especially amongst teens.


LBB> Uncommon has a reputation for creating groundbreaking work. In your opinion, what is the recipe for work that moves the world?

Goldie> The key is the people, combined with the unified ambition of every maker within Uncommon to produce the best and most revolutionary work out there. 

The talent we have at the studio across so many disciplines, backgrounds and experiences is what brings ideas, approaches, new artists to the table. This pushes the work in genuine new ways. It’s a real family atmosphere where everyone gets stuck in.


 

LBB> What have been some of your personal favourite pieces of groundbreaking work to be involved in and why?

Goldie> H&M One/Second/Suit – because it was an idea that highlighted a negative of society, but brought it to bear in a beautiful, positive and empowering way and actually made a difference to some young men's lives. The team was a very tight and passionate one and I think that shows in the work.

New Museum Recalling 1993 – this was insane, hacking the NYC payphone system. I still don’t know how we pulled it off. I was like a bee to honey researching and interviewing the most interesting NYC characters of that era. One of them was the first ever interview given in 20 years about the death of a famous punk musician. A placement team came up with the idea. They hadn’t learnt 'the rules'. We gathered around it as a team, didn’t know how to do it but put our heads together and made it happen.

Newcastle Brown Ale Super Bowl Campaign – probably one of the most fun times I’ve had. We threw caution to the wind and went all in on being as ballsy as we could be. It was 90% done in-house and had very little money, but the impact was phenomenal. Again I think it’s testament to the small tight team all with the shared ambition.

Under Armour Gisele campaign – the interactive part of this where we live streamed negative and positive tweets about Gisele was a head scratcher back then. 

Honey Maid 4th July film – this challenged the American stereotype of immigrants and their celebration of 4th July. I got to spend a week with the most gorgeous family who let us into their lives and showed us so much love.



LBB> And outside of your own work, what taboo-breaking/culture shifting work do you admire?

Goldie> Brave work that makes certain groups of people feel uncomfortable is the benchmark for me. Provoking conversation, hopefully action, with a strong single-minded belief in the work is the only way you’ll make a true difference. There are SO many ideas in this space right now which is truly amazing, we are making a positive difference. More more more please.

This year I thought The Morning After Island out of Honduras did everything we hope for when we say we want to make a difference. That was bravery encapsulated. I also really loved The Unfiltered History Tour.

On a personal note We The 15 film made my heart swell (a close family member is disabled). The tone was perfect and the casting genuinely spanned all types of disability. The film is pointed at society at large but this is definitely an area as an industry that only a very small minority have started to address.

 

LBB> From your perspective as a producer, in what ways can top-quality post elevate a piece of work? 

Goldie> That’s actually a tough one to answer as it’s such a multi-faceted question. What do you class as post, what’s tech? They now live in harmony which is a very exciting world to play in. 

Recently we have worked with Unreal Engine and Mid Journey. It’s exciting to see how transformational these technical advancements can be with traditional film, but also extend the creative into AR and online. These technical advancements are developing so quickly, it’s pretty wild. It’s important to be really close to your production partner on these pieces and share that confidence and knowledge with the team and clients. Working in new ways always requires great partnerships.

Ultimately for me post can do more than elevate work, it can make an impossible idea possible. New tech advancements are exciting the hell out of directors and artists who can finally bring to the world the ideas they have locked away that haven’t been possible before.

 

LBB> What’s exciting you about the industry right now?

Goldie> The genuine entrepreneurial spirit of all the young people coming into creative businesses. They get on with it, make it happen, a lot of the time on their own. They’re way beyond their years compared to when my generation were their age. They’re inspiring us, showing us new ways, and making the creative industry a more interesting and expansive place to work.

And how tech is changing the way we can reach and interact with the world. It’s evolving at such a speed. It’s equally scary and amazing but a ride we all need to be on. 


LBB> What advice do you have for the ad industry in general when it comes to the importance of culture shifting work? 

Goldie> Firstly these ideas need a super tight team where everyone is brought into the reason you’re doing it and everyone has a genuine belief. These are usually emotional and difficult and you all need the support of one another. A work family. Usually the smaller the team the better.

It’s vital that you don’t worry about what everyone will think. The work isn’t for everyone. It can’t be otherwise it’s not impactful. Worry about the people it matters to. 

Go with your gut. These types of ideas need to be fuelled by passion. Even if it goes against everything you’ve been taught.

Lastly, ask yourself why you’re in this job? That’s your driver. If it’s to make a difference you don’t have to be brave to do it, you’re just stating your belief. 

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OKAY STUDIO, Tue, 13 Sep 2022 10:03:14 GMT