Shower shoots, snappy robots and other highlights from 11 years at Gard
Back when Jenna Rose joined Gard Communications as an executive assistant in 2011, the company was still relying heavily on printed letters, print advertising and – gasp! – even a fax machine.
How times have changed.
As an agency, Gard is now heavily involved in digital advertising and communications. Print plays a secondary role. And that fax machine? Long gone.
As for Jenna, she’s spent the past decade-plus amassing a wealth of experience. She’s worked in every department here and taken a little something from each role – and added her own expertise along the way.
Now Gard’s producer, we asked Jenna to look back on her time with us and share some memories, highlights and a few projects that stick out most.
You’ve been with Gard 11 years now. Highlights from that time?
My favorite memories from the last 11 years have all involved photography sessions or video productions, which I’m lucky to say have been numerous. From logging mills to rural towns to shower stalls, it’s been a fun road.
Here are a few of my favorite shoots from the last 11 years:
For the Driver Education program, part of ODOT’s Transportation Safety Office (TSO), we were tasked with creating 10 new photos with 10 completely different models, scenes and sets – all in one day and in one location. We had to be very creative with our sets and incredibly efficient with our time, and it was one of the most rewarding shoots I’ve ever had. A few of my top picks from it:
For TSO’s Work Zone Safety program, our campaign included a :30 TV PSA “Life in the Work Zone” with a personified safety cone as their mascot. To avoid a cheesy or ill-fitting costume, our talented creative director John Plymale crafted this amazing Safety Cone suit with his own hands. Naturally, after the shoot we took turns trying it on – to spread the Work Zone safety messages throughout the office, of course. No other reason.
We work on a lot of creative production for TSO, and there’s a lot to be proud of. In 2019 we worked on possibly my favorite campaign of all – creating two brand new characters as spokespeople for our Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program. In addition to creating new radio, an amazing comic with a freelance illustrator, outdoor and transit ads, we worked on this :30 TV spot “Star of the Show,” with partner Deep Sky, to make them come to life – literally. This half 3D animated, half real spot was so fun to produce and shoot. I had to grab a photo with my favorite robot, Viv, for the memory.
What have you learned over the past 11 years?
It’s incalculable, really. I’ve been fortunate to work in nearly every department of the firm, and it has given me so much experience that never ceases to come in handy – sometimes in the most unexpected ways. But I have to say that overall, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to present (for both staff and client meetings) – and how to do so confidently.
I’ve always appreciated how Gard invests in its employees, for instance hiring a professional public speaking coach three times in the last several years. The coach helped me realize what my verbal crutches were and how to moderate them – and most importantly, figuring out the root cause of my anxiety when it came to public speaking. She also gave me useful tools to practice, and with the help and encouragement from my team, I have come such a long way. I can’t say I never get nervous, but the stage fright now ends before the show begins.
How has your work and your role evolved in your time with Gard?
Coming from an office management background at a pet hospital and new to to the agency world, I started out at the front desk as an executive assistant to founder Brian Gard and general project assistant to other account managers. I quickly moved up to the role of project manager, working closely with our director of operations to keep the office running efficiently. When clients started to need web work, I taught myself web design. At first, it was out of necessity, but I kept learning out of a love for <code>. I also love copyediting, so I volunteered for proofing whenever I could, which led to helping with graphic design proofing and eventually designing ads and templates myself.
I like to joke they gave me the social media management and digital buying responsibilities because at the time I was the youngest employee and therefore the closest to it – but that has long since been the case. It really just became something I took to quickly, perhaps because my anthropology studies gave me an interest in group targeting and behavior. And because we have such great clients with clear values, like in health care and transportation safety, I can feel good about how we’re targeting and changing behavior for the better. Like teaching young parents how to properly use seatbelts in accordance with the latest laws, or keeping pedestrians safe. It’s all about reaching the right people in the right way. And that’s pretty cool.
My photography skills came in handy quite often, first for small projects, which then led to bigger ones, like billboards and website hero images. I started to film while on set, then taught myself video editing, and was soon creating short videos for PR and creative clients alike. I also started helping the art director and creative director with production assistance and immediately fell in love with it – so I stepped into the producer role full time. These days, producing TV and radio spots, and editing videos, is where I spend most of my time, and I’m very happy doing so.
What’s changed about the work and how Gard is delivering for clients?
I think the biggest shift may sound obvious, but it’s how much we now lean on digital communications and digital advertising. When I first started in 2011, we still relied heavily on printed letters, print advertising and even fax for important documents and contracts. I still used the company’s old-school typewriter to type out addresses on our custom labels. Brian Gard likes to playfully make fun of the fact that I struggled with the contraption. In my defense, I come from a generation that relies on CTRL+Z and the delete key.
But now in 2022 we’re proficient with online platforms, digital reporting, using secure PDFs and e-signatures for contracts, e-newsletters – you get the idea. We may have been a tiny bit late to the game of modern communication, but we’re here now and we’re doing great. In my unbiased, humble opinion, of course.