Response Q&A: Technology Helps Drive ShadowBox Pictures Forward

Jeff Young
Jeff Young

Yardley, Pa.-based digital, creative, and marketing agency ShadowBox Pictures focuses on growing its clients’ audiences and converting them into paid clients or customers. Recently, Response caught up with Jeff Young, ShadowBox’s president and executive producer, to chat about how he came to ShadowBox, its strengths, and its most recent successes.

Q: How did you come to your leadership role at ShadowBox Pictures?

Jeff Young: I began my career in Los Angeles in 1985, handling product placement for network TV shows and dozens of feature films. It was then that I got the creative and production bug. In 1988, I became a production manager at a studio, facilitating clients’ production needs. There, I met early DRTV pioneers like Tony Hoffman and Mike Levy. A few years later, I joined National Media as executive producer — working on projects like Medicus and Body By Jake. This led to an offer from Jake Steinfeld, which moved me back to the West Coast as vice president of marketing and production for his company. One year later, I found myself moving back to Philadelphia to join TelAmerica Media, where I met Ken Barbet.

ShadowBox — originally known as Video Image — was founded by Ken in 1986. I joined him in 1995. We became ShadowBox Pictures in 1999 with the release of our first feature film, Killer Instinct. In the beginning, it was just Ken and me. Now, we have a 9,000-square-foot facility with three full-time edit suites, and a full-time animator. 

Q: What does ShadowBox do that sets it apart from other companies in the space?

Young: We are unique from the simple perspective of how we view our role with the customer. Of course, we are primarily a creative production agency, but we are well versed in developing branded content that works within the DRTV framework. We also serve as consultants for our clients’ complete marketing efforts, including digital SEO and SEM and all forms of social media. Having that in-house skillset allows for creative continuity across all channels. We are hands on, so there is no passing off the clients to the next person — all clients stand front and center for our team.

Q: What have been some of your most recent successful campaigns — and why?

Young: First, there’s Worx Hydroshot. It got a 4:1 media efficiency ratio (MER) out of the gate, which is unheard of today. Second, our work with Carshield is a star-studded success story, featuring Burt Reynolds and Ernie Hudson. Finally, bringing in Isaiah Washington as spokesperson helped the new production for Oasis Financial beat their control.

Q: What are the two biggest accomplishments for ShadowBox in the past year?

Young: Our biggest change: adding an SEO/SEM team, which truly helps our clients develop continuity in their strategic planning. As far as accomplishments, having three very successful campaigns in a calendar year is huge — but having five is better, and that’s what we achieved in 2017!

Q: What do you believe two of the hottest topics facing marketers are in today’s performance-based marketing world?

Young: The elephant in the room is diversity. It’s all we hear every day, socially and politically. In general, 2018 will be the year in which 5G and augmented reality (AR) truly come into play. We’ll be able to shop from our cars and visualize a product in our homes before deciding to buy it. I also see the lines between DRTV and brand marketing continuing to blur given the amount of multimedia content and variety of platforms that lead to performance media. This means more brand advertisers are developing a cross-channel media mix for their strategically balanced “brand response” campaigns. 

As a DRTV and brand response content creator, we need to craft our product offerings and creative approach around the latest lifestyle trends, putting “context” in our messaging to immediately break through. And we must use advanced electronic applications to identify analytics that predict those needs as they arise. We are surrounded by social media and technology, which has led to instant communications and entertainment. Thus, mobile devices will become even more important in our daily routine and culture as they offer smarter, faster, and more intuitive information, directly influencing the consumer at the point of purchase. 

Q: What are ShadowBox’s plans for the next three to five years?

Young: We are building toward using technology as a solution-based problem solver for both creative development and execution, as well as expanding our range of services. We have begun working with virtual reality (VR) and AR and will be well poised to see how these new technologies — along with other exciting breakthroughs — can be utilized to support a DRTV/brand response campaign.