Employer Spotlight: John McNeil Studio
In simpler times, there were advertising agencies and there were production companies. Each fulfilled an important role in connecting the message of a company with the world. Times have changed and in today's media-saturated world things move fast. The need to stay on top of constant advances in technology and communication in order produce the best results for clients has led to the rise of companies that are able to seamlessly connect the work of both advertising agencies and production companies. Berkeley, California-based John McNeil Studio has been making waves doing exactly that.
Since 2009, the team at John McNeil Studio has been taking a fresh approach to advertising and building brands by handling every step of the creative process. This includes, but is by no means limited to, design work, advertising and marketing, brand strategy and planning, user experience and information architecture, photo and video production, animation, and social media strategy. In other words, they essentially do it all. Clearly, their all-in strategy must be working, as they have worked on campaigns for companies like Nest, Cisco, CA Technologies, Toms, and Reuters, among others. The demand for companies like John McNeil Studio is only growing as technology and media become more intertwined. Currently, the Studio is looking for a handful of people to join their growing team of strategists, writers, designers, filmmakers, technologists, musicians and photographers who help companies make the most of their communications. Take a look at their Instagram and you'll get the impression that John McNeil Studio is a fun, creative place to work. We decided to take an even closer look behind the scenes by talking with Melissa Hutchinson, Director of Human Resources.
Tell us about what it's like to work at your company.
We're a creative studio, so we're very focused on making things. Instead of coming up with great ideas and then handing them off, we make them real. And what we make varies widely: commercials, websites, brand identities...even studio-wide suppers. We make it all ourselves, in-house.
John McNeil Studio seems to do a lot of different, interesting work ranging from design to production and more. Are there any notable projects the company is particularly proud of?
Because we're not a traditional agency, we don't believe in the separation of strategy and creative. That's the thread that runs through all of our work, and it's what sets us apart.
Some of our best work breathes new life into brands that may be traditionally overlookedâ€”either because they haven't invested in marketing, or because they may be in unloved categories that consumers don't give a lot of consideration to.
One of our very first campaignsâ€”a rebranding of an under-the-radar networking companyâ€”positioned a challenger brand against a global networking giant. That work combined digital, print, web...even an outdoor art installation. It was truly multi-platform, and a really bold move for a relatively unknown company. Later on, we worked to create a mobile game from scratch for that same client, which was a lot of fun.
We did something very similar for another company, a software heavyweight that's the "secret ingredient" for companies going digital. They wanted to put themselves at the forefront of the application economy, and we created a comprehensive campaignâ€”including a series of commercial spots that aired on CNNâ€”which put the company back on the public's radar for the first time in decades.
We've also done some great work for Nest, extending their powerful, iconic brand into B2B categories.
Lastly, we're proud of the fact that we stay active with our own creative projects here at the Studio. 2K@15â€”an example of that self-directed workâ€”recently won a Silver Addy.
What positions are you currently hiring for?
We're currently hiring for a lot of different roles, with a lot of different experience levels. We have a great design internship opportunity working with and being mentored by our Founder John McNeil, but we also have writing roles open. We're hiring a lot for our Social and Strategy team right now as well. We're always looking for creative people with a unique perspective.
What do you look for right away in candidates?
A strong work ethic, amazing talent, a desire to collaborate across disciplines, and a genuinely nice demeanor.
If someone does land an interview with your company, what do you think is the best thing he or she can do to prepare?
Show us what makes you different and how your experience has informed your own sense of style and creativity. What perspective do you have that others may not bring to the table?
What is your favorite question to ask interviewees?
What are you reading, watching and listening to right now? What's exciting you about being in the Bay Area? Everyone at JMS is really tapped into culture, and we love to see what cultural insights and interests new hires bring to the table.
Employers often ask potential new hires if they have any questions at the end of the interview. What's the weirdest thing you've been asked?
"If I'm commuting via unicycle, where would I park that?"
Why is the job location (Berkeley, CA) a cool place to live and work?
Berkeley is a cool place to live because you're so close to everything. It's really a springboard place - you can build a really amazing life within the city limits, or expand to the entire Bay Area. The East Bay has benefitted from the mass exodus from SF, so we're seeing a lot of interesting and creative people and companies pop up here.