Educating through Celebrating during National Hispanic Heritage Month

Ifetayo Jabari-Kitwala | Oct. 14 2021

September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors Hispanic and Latinx Americans, their cultures, and the contributions they make to this country. We are celebrating this time by uplifting our people and their unique connections to their Hispanic and Latinx cultures.
From imagining the smell of the beans and chilaquiles (rojos) in Mexico to learning of the resiliency of Cubans and Nicaraguans gained through years of global adversity; from recognizing the work of Sylvia Rivera and Frida Kahlo had done for the LGBTQIA+ community to hearing stories of moms and aunts being chased by the police because they were street vendors, this month was nothing short of an exploration of Hispanic/Latinx culture, powerful storytelling, and its impact. And while everyone’s experiences are unique to them, one thing is true across the board— there is always a reason to celebrate. 
So to close out the month, we asked The Many to share with us all the celebrations, people and experiences they’d like to celebrate and we hope you enjoy these special moments as much as we did.

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Shina Kim-Avalos 
What about your culture are you most proud of?
The sense of community is so strong in our culture. Whether you’re a family member, a long-time friend, a neighbor, or a colleague, you’re always cared for. I also love the power of bringing people together with our FOOD. There is no shortage of reasons to have a BIG gathering or party with lots of amazing food. My tias never have written directions for their recipes. They’re all passed down from generation to generation and each is a delicious labor of love.

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Sofia Brenda Duzian (she/her)
What about your culture are you most proud of?
Cubans and Nicaraguans are resilient people. Through generations of adversity and chaos in both countries, the people remain so strong, full of vibrancy and life, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I visited Nicaragua for the first time at 15 and Cuba at 22, both experiences were incredible and taught me so much about myself, my family history,  and opened a whole new connection to my culture. It was so hard for me to leave Cuba at the end of that first trip and I knew I wanted to continue learning more and stay connected to the country and my heritage. I ended up working with an incredible organization called Project Por Amor, which helps bring people to Cuba and explore the country through art, music, history, and culture. The work was so dear to my heart and helped me feel like I was spreading the zest of Cuban culture to others.
Who is someone in the Latinx community that you have always looked up to?
My grandmother, my Mima, who passed away earlier this year, is someone I will look up to for the rest of my life. She grew up with 13 brothers and sisters in Managua, Nicaragua, and eventually moved to Los Angeles after her mother died. My grandmother worked tirelessly and meticulously her whole life, investing in properties, and making an income that could support the family and take them all over the world. She loved to travel more than anything, and I am so grateful that she passed that love on to me. She also spent her whole life taking care of my Uncle Glenn who had Down Syndrome and was her constant companion and best friend after my Pipa passed. She wasn’t the typical warm and fuzzy, sweater-knitting grandma, but she loved us with everything she had, she was intelligent, strong-willed, stubborn, and could kick your ass in poker any day of the week.

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Lisandro Ancewicz
What about your culture are you most proud of?
There are a couple of things I’m really proud of. The first one is the sense of humor. Adversity in our own home countries made humor a pillar of our culture. It’s a way for us to connect and grow as a community. 
Second would be our capacity for improvisation and quick planning. Our culture is known for planning things on the spot and rolling with the punches. Things don’t have to be perfect for us to move forward. 
Third and most important would be our warmth. There is nothing more inspiring for me than our warmth. 
This is a key element of our culture. We are always looking forward to socializing and welcoming people with open arms.
Who is someone in the Latinx community that you have always looked up to?
A Latino that really inspires me is John Leguizamo. He is a real warrior for the Latino community.

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Edwin Barrera
If you and your family/friends/peers celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, what is your fondest memory of celebrations from the past?
We would go to Pico and Normandie in Los Angeles to catch the Salvadorian parade with my dad. My mom would go sell tamales and Atol de Elote alongside her oldest sister. The event was beautiful as they would be playing music, dancing, and eating all that good food like pupusas, tamales, yuca con chicharron, etc. Having a great time celebrating our country’s independence.
What about your culture are you most proud of?
Personally, I love the fact that till this day we all gather for Bday parties, holidays, etc. We throw a big party with good food, drinks, and music. We dance the night away and enjoy each other’s company. Proud of the fact that we are there for each other in good times and bad. Proud of the hard work and dedication that is instilled in us from little. I remember my mom and aunts getting up at 4-5 am to start making tamales on the weekends. Growing up selling food in front of St. Thoma church was something my family always did. I remember hearing stories of my mom and aunts being chased by police because they were street vendors. When I was 8-9 years old I would from time to time go with my mom and aunt to the convention center and help them sell sodas and water. Those experiences help me be the person that I am today. I don’t take anything for granted and appreciate everything that I have.

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Jorge Andrade 
If you have not celebrated this month before, why would you say you haven’t celebrated in the past?
To be quite honest, I never knew it was a thing. I always thought that the only time of the year that the US celebrated anything Hispanic was 5 de Mayo, which always felt like a weird misinformed and appropriated holiday merely used as an excuse to party. However, Hispanic Heritage Month in contrast is meant to highlight the achievements and contributions to today’s culture made by Hispanos & Latinos. Although I am grateful that we get an official month in “the content calendar” to be celebrated, seen, and recognized as a community, I wish we’d evolve the way we think about these types of holidays and continue the celebration year-round and not only within a specific timeframe.

What about your culture are you most proud of?
As a Hispano, I am most proud of our humanidad and family-centric values. We are a community filled with loving and compassionate people; we are selfless and empathetic, which allows us to treat others with respect and humility. When faced with adversity, our community always finds a way to uplift one another and help those in need. You could say that our mother’s “chancla/chancleta” and disciplining tactics have helped shape us all to be good and respectful members of society.

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Shera Annain White 
What about your culture are you most proud of?  
Todo. La costumbres de mi mamá, mi familia, Tias y Tios, Primas y Primos, la gente de Mexico y la comida. I could go on and on about all of the things I love about mi culture Mexicana. 
Mi abuelo y abuela lived on a ranch with lots of different animals; pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, cattle, sheep, and ox. We would run around with all the animals and hide in the trees. It’s an unforgettable experience to be with nature and wild animals. My grandpa would let us get on his horse, I just remember the saddle weighing a ton (it’s very heavy). 
Some of my favorite childhood memories come from my visits to Mexico. Every morning we would wake up, you could smell the beans and chilaquiles (rojos). Everyone greets you with a hug and a kiss, someone will call out your name because they have a plate of food ready for you. Did I also mention we drink coca-cola for breakfast!!  My mom’s entire family is from a small town in Mexico called Teocaltiche. The people are rich with things that really matter like strength, family and religion. Even though they don’t have not have much to offer in terms of money, the people there always have a lot of love to give. Everything is pure in Mexico, pure happiness.
If you and your family/friends/peers celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, what is your fondest memory of celebrations from the past?
One of my fondest memories as a kid was from the age of 4 – 8 years old, we would take our annual trips to Teocaltiche, Jalisco Mexico. The region is known as “Los Altos de Jalisco”. They have fiestas every November 1 -11. It’s the celebration of the procession of the Virgen De Los Dolores.
After the procession, we would celebrate as a town for several days. It became a tradition for my family, not just for the town. After the procession, we would attend church and attend the party afterward. There would be lots of small vendors, food, games and fair rides. It was such a fun memorable experience because we would all come together as one.

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Ash Ramirez (they/elle/papi)
What about your culture are you most proud of?
My top two answers go hand in hand, especially when it comes to putting together a good ol’ party, Latinx style… MUSICA Y COMIDA. Not only am I proud of these aspects of my culture but these are parts of my Latinidad that I most identify with. Nothing makes my heart feel the feels more than food and music. With food, your senses are literally immersed in it all. It’s a whole mood and experience for sure. And there’s so much more to it than you think, it’s not just burritos and nachos y’all.
Who is someone in the Latinx community that you have always looked up to?
As a queer non-binary Latinx I don’t see many that look like me but I do recognize the work of Sylvia Rivera and Frida Kahlo, both come from the LGBTQIA+ community and have always been in spaces as their unapologetic, authentic selves. This is not only inspiring but I owe it to them for paving the way for me to be in spaces as myself.

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If you missed our National Hispanic Heritage Month Stories, head over to our Instagram highlights to quiz your knowledge of the many unique cultures that are part of the Hispanic World, or join in on the conversation via Twitter or LinkedIn
To those who identify as Hispanic or Latinx at The Many, we see you and appreciate you celebrating with us.

Artboard 17575: Motion Graphics Designer and Fine Artist Gianni Arone on Spec Spots and Creative Freedom

Gianni Arone | Sep. 28 2021

Before I am a Motion Designer, I am first, a multi-disciplinary fine artist.  I am self taught in all my creative endeavors, propelled by an insatiable need to create. I got into motion graphics by seeing a job posting for an animator and that weekend, taught myself how to crudely animate and created a portfolio. I landed the job and have been doing motion ever since. 
The same mentality goes for fine art and I spend most of my time working on a variety of works in different mediums and substrates that inform my overall aesthetic when it comes to my motion and editing sensibilities. I have found that this process of experiencing a wide variety of creative outlets has allowed me to, over the years, cultivate and curate my voice in a way that perhaps isn’t of the norm in the motion community, as I am coming from a place of painting, drawing, illustration, photography, poetry, design, animation, and editing. One of my favorite ways to do this is the spec commercial.
The spec spot is such a place of creative freedom because what we have really is a blank canvas. We identify a brand we love and in that identification we cull some basic tenets of the brand verticals. Their existing voice, previous campaigns, and overall tone over their years of existence. Those loose factors give us a base from which we can explore creating a voice that is perhaps currently being overlooked in their advertising offerings. It’s a world of risk taking and pure creative endeavoring. Nothing really is off limits here, from visuals, to execution, editing, color palette, music, etc. 
We allow ourselves as experts and creators to play and I believe in doing that, great things come. So often we can get locked down into brand guidelines and the analytical numbers that say “this is what we should do, this is what works and what has worked in the past.” Which of course is great, but that philosophy also stifles creative risk taking.
As a fine artist I often operate from intuition and feeling through the ether of opportunity and inspiration. It is allowing one to be the negative space where the drawing, painting, music, and other elements simply reveal themselves and evolve and form into the manifest.  Each one of us has a certain ability to tap into the flow state, where we intuitively know “YES!  This is something, there is something here.” So when creating a spec spot I really rely on intuition and being open to receiving ideas. I don’t go heavy on research, mood boards, or too much planning, but let ideas come and build off that momentum.
With this Pepsi spot I wanted to cultivate the Joy of having a soft drink. As a kid it was a treat to have a soda and there is a certain innocence in it. I had created some hand drawn animations that honestly made me laugh. That laughter and joy was an indicator of the genuine and authentic purity of what I had animated. I recorded my father doing a voiceover and as I often do, went to the creative commons zero database of music where you can find really quirky copyright free music that often no one has ever heard. It turned out to be a really sweet spot that felt timeless and made me smile, hence the title.

“Just Us Kids” is a NIKE spot that evolved from simple drawings where I started slapping Nike Logos on the shoes and outfits of the characters. In my fine art I often put the Nike logo on shoes as a cultural identifier and an indicator of daring to dream. I had found this piece of music that was just perfect and I decided to string the assets together in a simple edit for a Nike spot directed to young athletes. I adore it.

The Maison Martin Margiela piece was just a bonkers spot. They are a high fashion brand and have created these trippy crystal facemask headpieces. I was fascinated by them and wanted to do something around them. I found a really aggressive punk track and matched it with scans of seashells I made on my scanner with footage from the Mars Rover landing. Quick cuts, jarring music, and brazenly short in total running time. You are left with an impact of what the fuck was that, and I love that.

The Emerald Nuts “Bird and Cat” spot and the Benetton “FLY” spot were both playful in their execution. I have a lot of different illustration styles, but my favorite is the quick and raw emotive works that just get the essence and the idea out. They are not refined, but they are real, and I think that courage to go with this style speaks volumes when executed in a professional spot. Emerald Nuts is a bit quirky in the copy. It’s a quick short story narrated by three lines of text and is in no way related to nuts, but connected to Emerald’s bizarre previous commercials which is perfect. Benneton was really driven by this folk song I found that felt like a hidden iconic jingle and the spot is really hinged on showcasing it through a quick morphing animation of a short story.

Finally this Nike “Personal Things” spot was a spec I had always wanted to do of an emotional anthemic collage of great moments in sports history. I had met Umar Bin Hassan of the famed Last Poets in New York City and our time together made a lasting impression on me. I searched for one of his poems that could hopefully fit the bill as a narration to this idea I had. I came upon his work “Personal Things” and it was just a perfect match. Again music was sourced from the creative commons zero library and I was able to create something that left me teary eyed and spoke to a greater portrait of the human experience.  If you can get someone to cry or laugh, or express any real emotion from a product advertisement, I think that is the pinnacle of what we are aiming for in our craft.

I personally think spec spots should be a way of life in all agencies. That there should be dedicated hours for each quarter to create works that are creatively risky for brands the agency is currently working with, or brands that they just love. Some of my favorite commercials have that feel, a majority of them were made in the 80’s and early 90’s. There was a real art house, exploratory tone in them and they felt like they had soul.  Small pieces of cinema. Timeless in nature.
I don’t really believe in creative blockages and I think those are somewhat self imposed phenomena of the psyche, or when we are limiting ourselves in what creative expression looks like. I find it handy to cycle through different creative outlets (photography informs a poem, a poem informs a painting, a painting informs a font choice, ad infinitum). When we have a wide array of creative expressions and outlets we can find a huge well of ideas instead of a linear approach when we are tasked with executing a project. I truly believe that all of the possibilities of creative expression exist in an unseen liminal space, and that we as creators are vessels for bringing the unmanifest into the manifest. We just have to remain honest, open minded, and willing – and in doing that we cultivate intuition in our process.

Gianni Arone is Motion Graphics Designer at The Many and recently sold his first NFT on OpenSea.
Disclaimer – The following spots are spec spots. The originator of the spots is not affiliated with, connected to, nor sponsored or endorsed by the companies featured.

Amanda Cosindas Discusses Parenting and the Return to School with Digiday

Ty Gates | Sep. 2 2021

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, parents were put between a rock and a hard place. For working parents still employed, the challenge presented was managing their day-to-day job while also managing their child(ren)’s schedule with virtual schooling. A unique challenge presented itself for some parents who found themselves homeschooling their child(ren).
Fast forward a year later, and children across the country return to school in the coming days and weeks.
Amanda Cosidans, Director of Communications and Marketing here at The Many, sat down with Kristina Monllos of Digiday to discuss how The Many has empowered her with the utmost flexibility and understanding as she navigates parenting during this transition.
Check out the full conversation over at Digiday.

Todd Lombardo Discusses The Many’s Hybrid Workforce with Digiday

Ty Gates | Aug. 20 2021

With vaccinations on the rise going into the summer, agencies started to map out how they would open the doors for more employees to return to working in-office should they desire. But with the delta variant popping up sporadically across the country, the industry headed back to the drawing board to figure things out and develop a way to be more flexible with the workforce.
Todd Lombardo, managing director, excellence here at The Many, recently sat down with Kristina Monllos of Digiday to discuss how The Many has been navigating operating with an entirely remote workforce with those in Los Angeles having the ability to head into the office whenever they need it.
One thing we’ve all come to realize is that flexibility is critical when it comes to navigating this unfamiliar time.
Check out the full conversation over at Digiday.

Todd Lombardo Discusses Flexibility and the Future of Hybrid Work with R/GA

Ty Gates | Aug. 11 2021

In April, we shared our plans to reinvent agency work culture and create a new future for everyone. As we forge ahead with a hybrid agency culture and challenge outdated conventional wisdom, The Many is eliminating the traditional workplace rules around where, when, and how we show up to work by empowering our people to decide when and how they work. 
“Our team can work from wherever they like, and we also won’t be dictating hours when our teams will be working or must be in our HQ or a hub,” Todd Lombardo, Managing Director, Excellence at The Many.
Following his interview with Adweek, Todd recently spoke with our good friend Erik Oster, associate director of marketing and communications at R/GA, to discuss the future of flexible work. Their conversation unpacked the steps we took to develop a virtual-first model that empowers our team to work when, where, and how they want.
Head over to R/GA to read the piece and check out what The Many, We Are Rosie, McGarrah Jessee, and The Agency Sherpa had to say about retaining talent, making the jump to flexible work culture and the impact that decision has had on employees.

Samantha Petrossi on How Brands Can Help People Through the Next 'Evolution of Wellness'

Amanda Cosindas | Jul. 28 2021

Samantha Petrossi combines the insight of a strategist with the heart and soul of a human who is “doing the work” to truly understand and embrace wellness and further what it means to nourish that in an increasingly complex world. 
Through our Voices of The Many program, Samantha is calling on brands to step up and take accountability for their role in supporting mental health. In her recently published piece in Adweek, she stakes a strong claim when it comes to accountability:

"All companies will be held accountable for contributing to the well-being of the people they serve—whether they are inherently wellness-related or not. In other words, brands that don’t step up now risk becoming irrelevant in the near future."

Getting to know Sam is a refreshing experience—she’s perceptive and discerning, especially when it comes to mental health and total well-being. She’s the kind of person who can articulate your innermost thoughts almost better than you can, relate to how you’re feeling, and then turn those thoughts and feelings into action. (I mean, duh, she’s a strategist!)
Which brings us to another enlightening piece of who she is—her new podcast with her husband, Know Your True Self, which is rich with insightful discussion, relatable stories, and helpful tips on how to find more peace and joy in a chaotic and unpredictable world. Did we say she’s doing this with her husband!? If that doesn’t speak volumes for Sam’s ability to be a sounding board and breath of fresh air, we don’t know what does.

Samantha Petrossi is Strategy Director at The Many.

Artboard 17575: Senior Designer Amy Woo Blends Nostalgia, Food and Design

Amy Woo | Jul. 8 2021

Presenting The Many’s first installation of Artboard 17575, a monthly column dedicated to the intricacies, nuances, beauty and limitless possibilities of design. It’s my pleasure to bring you the first exploration.
Over the past few years, the design world has trended towards nostalgia — a good recent example being Burger King. But the lockdown really seemed to accelerate this trend. And why wouldn’t it? For many, nostalgia is more than just a vintage look, it’s a return to a happy place plucked right from our memories. Something which was sorely needed after a whole year of “in these uncertain times” commercials and emails.
For me, many of my happiest memories revolved around food. I spent a large part of my pre-kindy years with my gonggong (grandpa). Our mornings almost always began with a sesame bagel from the local bakery followed by some laundry and then a midday walk to the traditional Chinese bakery where we picked out glorious baked goods from glass display cases. The afternoon would be dinner prepping of Shanghainese influenced Cantonese dishes. All these smells and textures bring me back to the cherished memories of time spent with my grandfather.

Food has always been personal for me, and recently I’ve seen my two loves of food and design starting to blend together. One thing I noticed during lockdown was that whilst restaurants were forced to operate at a limited capacity, they also started to sell branded merchandise to help offset costs. Design became part of the experience. 
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been into graphic tees. They all just felt a little generic and unconsidered. They were mostly just logos slapped on the back with crusty ink on equally scratchy t-shirt blanks. However, these new tee shirts popping up felt unique and collectible. They were printed on soft blanks that hung nicely and something that I would actually reach for. 
Most importantly, the designs were finally considered. The restaurants were working with artists and designers to craft mindful designs. What I’m seeing is a return of the human hand, rather than machine. I’m deeply drawn to the warmth, imperfection and off-beat personality. It’s personable and welcoming – like a big warm hug one would expect from their neighborhood restaurant.

Without concerts or live events to go to, this was the new form of poster collecting, but instead we can wear these shirts and proudly support the small restaurants in our community. Many restaurants don’t create large runs and if they run out they’re gone, so in a way you’re collecting limited edition works of art.

So what exactly is it that makes these graphics evoke a sense of nostalgia?

Practical color palette (printing with multiple colors can get pricey).

Bottom-heavy typefaces are traced back to the late 60’s/70’s design style  (jeanette/brandywine/funkford).

Imitation of a traditional/analog printing technique (e.g, linocut printing).

The use of typeface inspired by hand-painted signage lettering connotes a level of craftsmanship.

The inclusion of illustrations helps further define the persona and story that the establishment would like to tell.

My favorite part about these is that at the end of the day, it’s a happy place. Everytime I take out my Woon shirt, it’s going to remind me of the perfectly chewy noodles. I’m not going to hum and haw over whether a grid was used or if type was set according to “design rules”. It’s already perfect, like the baked goods I used to get with GongGong.

So with all that being said, I thought I’d take a stab at designing a t-shirt for the iconic restaurant that was once located at The Many’s headquarters on the Pacific Coast Highway, Thelma Todd’s Cafe.

Thelma Todd and her Cafe (which was also, at times, an underground casino), remained a southern California landmark and home to this silent film actress for many years. Some say Thelma still walks the halls of our office—and you guessed it, Artboard 17575 is a nod to our headquarters located at 17575 Pacific Coast Highway. Learn more about its history and Thelma’s mysterious death here.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration through this story.  And if you’re interested in designing your own t-shirt, utilize this toolkit that I put together to create some wearable memories: True grit texture supply, House Industry, Retro Supply Co, Procreate (or pencil + paper).

Amy Woo is Senior Designer at The Many.

Amber Justis Provides a Window into American Advertising on Transatlantic Podcast

Ty Gates | Jun. 23 2021

With our Los Angeles HQ mere steps away from the beach, we know a thing or two about the ocean. Amber Justis, Head of Creative here at The Many, sat down with Simone Nobili, host and seat captain of the Transatlantic podcast, to charter through a series of seven questions like the Seven Seas.
From learning how to pay attention to every particle in the room to making a commitment to drop the unnecessary and fully embrace her true self, Amber opens up on who she is and who she is evolving into, and how she stays in touch with her divine femininity.
Check out the full conversation below or head over to the Transatlantic YouTube channel to watch Amber’s episode and more.

Rediate Tekeste Joins Muse by Clio’s ‘Black Tea’ Video Series

Ty Gates | Jun. 22 2021

For those that haven’t had the pleasure to meet Rediate Tekeste, senior brand director here The Many, she effortlessly brings joy to your life.
Rediate recently appeared on Black Tea, a video series presented by Muse by Clio that exists to make the independent voices of our fellow Black ad women louder in the industry.
Chatting with the host Michelle Lawrence, the two explore how Rediate made her way into the ad industry, the incredible nonprofit that she founded – Ethiopian Diaspora Fellowship, and lessons you can learn from working with your direct reports, among other things!
Check out Rediate’s episode below or head on over to Muse by Clio to view life through her lens.

An Introvert's Manifesto on Leadership by Jackie VanSloten

Ty Gates | Jun. 21 2021

We’ve witnessed remarkable pieces from the team since the start of our Voices at The Many program. Jackie VanSloten, who previously had a piece published by Muse by Clio last year, has returned to Voices, and Muse, with another insightful piece.
Penned as an introvert’s manifesto on leadership, Jackie details her realization of being a true introvert, analyzing what industries stand to gain by spotlighting and empowering introverts more and how working from home as a result of COVID-19 helped introverts truly shine—a social experiment that taught us all a lot about our counterparts.
Click on over to Muse by Clio to take a journey through Jackie’s point of view and learn how an introvert sees and navigates the corporate world.

Jackie VanSloten is media director at The Many