The Philadelphia Ad Club's AD NEWS magazine featured Monogram in their July 2015 cover story. Take a look:





Artists challenge our expectations; they compel us to see the world in a new way.  They disrupt deep-seated traditions and jolt us out of our comfort zone.  

So what does that have to do with advertising?  If you ask Pier Nicola (Nic) D’Amico, co-founder of Klip Collective and Monogram, he’ll say “everything.”

In 2003, D’Amico saw the groundbreaking video projection work of artist Ricardo Rivera, and immediately understood how it could fit into the shifting landscape of advertising.  “I knew everything about the industry was changing,” he remembers. “I knew we couldn’t rely on interruptive advertising any more; we were going to have to earn people’s attention with curated experiences.  Rivera’s work had broken out of the flat video screen, and that’s what advertising needed to do as well.”

Rivera’s patented technique, which projects video onto digitally mapped three-dimensional surfaces, transforms content into powerfully immersive experiences.  After teaming up to form Klip Collective, D’Amico and Rivera began bringing the technique to agencies such as Wieden + Kennedy, Fallon Worldwide, and BBDO, who instantly saw its potential as an experiential advertising medium. 

The work started coming fast and furious, and as projects grew more technically demanding, D’Amico and Rivera realized they needed a new breed of production and post-production partners.  “We needed people who could help us solve technology problems with creativity,” says D’Amico.  “Not just people who could develop that technology, but visionaries who knew how to deploy it in interesting ways.  We needed real partners to help navigate this new space we had created.”

And so Monogram was born.  The full-service production and post production company, staffed by a robust team of producers, directors, editors, CGI experts, colorists and graphic artists, works hand-in-hand with Klip Collective to push the boundaries of non-traditional video.  That kind of creative problem-solving began attracting the attention of Philadelphia advertising agencies a few years ago.  

THE FACES OF KLIP COLLECTIVE AND MONOGRAM: Clockwise from top left:  Natalie Weiss, Thomas Roland, Masa Wakabayashi, Ricardo Rivera, Michelle Barbieri, Harry Paris, Erich Weiss, Marie Patriarca, Jeffrey Perkins, Matt Hall, Pier Nicola D’Amico, Lisa Cavallaro, Josh James, Nicole Giberson, Rick Angeli, Justin Shipley, Denise Green, Morris Levin. Across center: Dave Bauer, Whitney Alexander, Kevin Ritchie.

“When I saw the kind of directors and editors they had on staff, I was like wait a second, you guys would be perfect for some of our traditional television projects,” says Joe Mosca, broadcast producer at Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners.  “Not only do they have all of this amazing technology, but they have this cool artistic thing going on that you don’t find at a lot of production houses.”  He laughs.  “Our creatives dig that.”

Mosca recently reached out to Monogram for the production of branded content for Swarovski, and he says the experience was inspiring for everyone involved.  “The agency team would sit with Nic and his people and throw ideas around about how to push the visuals, give them more emotional punch.  It was really collaborative.”  Like any agency producer, though, Mosca appreciated the more practical aspects of the process as well.  “They had great ideas, but they made them happen within our budget.  So it was creative in a realistic way.  That makes my job easier.”

Monogram has established a diverse stable of directors for just this sort of commercial work.  In 2014 they unveiled The Monogram Directors’ Lounge, an online showcase for the work of directors under exclusive arrangements with Monogram.  These award-winning filmmakers include storyteller Erich Weiss, comedy and celebrity specialist Justin Warias, and VFX innovator Matt Hall.  

“This team loves to collaborate with agencies and even with each other,” says Executive Producer Marie Patriarca.  “There are no big egos here, no territorial stuff.  Everyone’s completely focused on elevating the creative.”

As Monogram has evolved into one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after production houses, executing traditional commercial work for agencies such as The Brownstein Group, DigitasHealth LifeBrands, and The Karma Agency, they have not forgotten their non-traditional roots.  “Every chance we get, we try to bring Klip Collective’s artistic vision to commercial projects,” explains Rivera.  “I mean, brands are always looking for new ways to surprise and engage people.  We have the technology and artistic sense to do that better than anybody.”

Agency One Trick Pony recently took them up on that promise, hiring Monogram to create a 4K video installation at the Virgin Hotel in Chicago.  The ultra high definition moving mural featured graffiti artist Pose creating one of his frenetically colorful artworks.  

“Monogram really helped us wow the client with that project,” remembers Bill Starkey, One Trick Pony Creative Director.  “The Virgin brand is all about pushing boundaries and creating memorable experiences, so we needed to think beyond traditional media.  Blending Monogram’s style and the fact that they have a 4K edit suite on site opened a world of possibilities with the footage in order to do something really impressive, really breakthrough for the space.”

Harnessing the power of technology to bring creative ideas to life is the particular passion of Monogram’s Director of Production and Post, Kevin Ritchie.  “My goal has always been to figure out workflows and technological solutions that will help and not hinder artists from creating their best work,” he says.  “Monogram was built on that philosophy.  It’s what sets us apart.”

Ritchie recently wrapped a project for a major pharma company, who wanted to feature an immersive installation at a national medical convention.  Ritchie’s team custom built multiple five-camera rigs from carbon fiber and aluminum for the job. These rigs were used to shoot ultra-wide 7K video on an aerial drone and a Steadicam, which they processed and edited in-house.  The finished piece was shown in a custom-designed 230-degree theater.  “It was a real marriage of production firepower and creative vision,” Ritchie says.  “People walked into that theater and they were just like, ‘Whoa.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.’”

Artist Pose at work on a mural in the Virgin Hotel Chicago lobby. Monogram director Erich Weiss documented the process for a 4K video installation at the hotel.

Visitors will probably be saying the same thing when they walk through Klip Collective’s ambitious nighttime installation at Longwood Gardens.  The commissioned work, which is called “Nightscape:  A Light and Sound Experience,” involves more than twenty powerful video projectors, and transforms the thousand-acre landscape into a mysterious world of dancing patterns, dreamlike trompe-l'œils, and mesmerizing waterfalls of light and color –set to original music composed by Jon Barthmus of the band Sun Airway, Pink Skull, and Klip’s own team of composers.

“Klip Collective has evolved into an incubator for new ideas that we can then bring to agencies and brands in today's challenging marketing landscape,” explains Rick Angeli, VP of Business Development for Monogram.  “At Monogram we can apply this model to traditional production and post production by taking people on an emotional journey.”

It’s an inventive, inspired approach to video production:  refusing to settle for traditional content and formats, and challenging people to break free of perceived notions of how the world works.  

Some might call it a brilliant way to attract big-budget advertising work.  

Some might dare to call it art.