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Meet Jeffrey Markowitz of Creative Compound in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeffrey Markowitz.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. 
I’ve always been fascinated by images that tell a story instantly. I started working as a professional photojournalist at the age of 22 shooting for The Washington Post and continuing for years after at the Associated Press, Time Magazine, and Newsweek. I loved it. By 27, I had photographed 5 U.S. Presidents and hundreds of world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Gorbachev, The Pope, and Mother Teresa. I’ve been fortunate to have my photos make the cover of Time Magazine 10 times, winning their Photo of the Year award twice. In my last days as a photojournalist, I covered President Clinton as a pool photographer having access to the oval office and traveling on Air Force One.

Having grown up in the LA entertainment industry, I moved back home to learn film directing and studied at the American Film Institute, where I earned an MFA. I ran a couple film and television production companies after graduation before starting my own. That company began as a scrappy production house. We made tv commercials, corporate videos, and web content. Over time, we found that our clients could be better served by working more closely and directly with us, so I built a creative agency on top of the production company. Today, Creative Compound provides creative, content and branding strategy, custom photography, tv and video advertising, production, and post all entirely in-house. As CEO and Executive Producer, I’ve directed and overseen production of thousands of national commercials, film documentaries for A&E and MSNBC, as well as tens of thousands of web content pieces, and shot entire libraries of exclusive custom stock images for major brands.

I feel really fortunate to have been able to sort of weave it all together. Applying what I always loved about photojournalism to brand storytelling – whether it’s through tv commercials or lifestyle photo shoots – has proven to be really valuable and honestly, a lot of fun! Authenticity is more important than ever, and today’s consumers really respond well to it.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? 
I wouldn’t say it’s always been easy, but I have learned a lot about what works. Working directly with clients sometimes means helping them solve issues they didn’t know they had. We actually developed a lot of our branding capabilities by working with companies that didn’t have a well-defined brand voice. That’s something that’s become a cornerstone of our approach to everything we do. If the brand voice is weak or missing, we’ll help build it. If it’s established, we’ll look for authentic ways to amplify and express it across specific channels. Similarly, it’s surprising that content strategy isn’t a bigger priority for a lot of consumer brands. Companies set their goals for the quarter, the year, but they often think about content on the tactical level rather than holistically. Developing the kind of trust that’s required for a great partnership takes time, discipline, and excellent two-way communication.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Creative Compound – what should we know? 
Creative Compound is a new breed brand response agency and production studio. We help companies grow through content, specifically custom photography, tv, and video. Our business model combines award-winning creative with in-house production and post to deliver content that triggers immediate response. We’re best known for launching brands like FanDuel and Tile on TV, as well as campaigns for Burger King, QuickenLoans, Sony, Disney, Nike, Toyota, Vonage, Union Bank, and Amgen.

Our work has received Telly Awards (Film and Video Production), W3 Awards (Interactive Media), AVA Digital Awards (Digital Communication), Hermes Creative Awards (Traditional and Emerging Media), Communicator Awards (Marketing and Communication), Davey Awards (Small Agency Awards), and Pixie Awards (Graphics).

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success? 
Immediacy. I could say plenty of other things which are true – integrity, honesty, dedication, etc. – but immediacy is the quality we look to infuse in every aspect of our work. Whenever we make anything there’s a necessary element of urgency to trigger some response from the viewer. Sometimes you just want them to feel an instant connection to the brand. Sometimes you want them to take an action in the moment. Whatever the goal, it’s now or never.

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