70 Artists Hunkered Down for One Weekend to Make PSAs for the Ad Council

Nashville's Made In Network led what will likely be an annual event

Made In Network invited musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, etc., to Nashville to create PSAs for the Ad Council.
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Nashville, Tenn., agency Made In Network, a self-described video-first media agency that primarily creates original YouTube content for brands, recently enlisted the Ad Council to bring together a group of artists from outside the advertising world for a weekend to create PSAs.

MIN: Collaboratory, as the event was called, took place over a three-day period in Franklin, Tenn., just outside Nashville, with the goal of producing content around four social causes: forest conservation, helping young adults earn their high school diplomas or equivalencies, food waste and recycling.

The artists—70 musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and writers, including sculptor Herb Williams, musician F. Reid Shippen, director Michael Tully and writer Stephanie Pruitt—were not prepped ahead of time, nor did they meet previously. They produced all of the content, spanning videos, paintings and poems, in just those three days.

“We didn’t know how it was going to unfold when we arrived in Nashville,” Ben Dorf, Ad Council director of PR and social media, told Adweek. “We were pleasantly surprised when the pieces fell together so nicely.”

Dorf said the Ad Council had always wanted an event with creatives outside of advertising to disrupt how campaigns are typically produced. With the test run having gone smoothly, the Ad Council and Made In Network plan to make it an annual event that could eventually reach other U.S. cities.

Watch some of the collaborators create a short film that uses fortune cookies to inspire people to earn their high school degrees:

While MIN: Collaboratory was a gamble of sorts for the Ad Council, Made In Network previously held a similar event for musicians called 24HR Records. That series, which has not been produced in a few years, put three musicians not associated with each other in a studio for 24 hours to record three songs.

“We came up with the idea to make that day bigger and have it expand beyond music,” Keith Johnson, chief operating officer of Made In Network, told Adweek. Because the artists didn’t have advertising backgrounds, they were more willing to think outside the box and “just make the content good,” he said.

Next year, Johnson hopes to recruit more artists and add a gaming element to the creative process.

The videos from the Ad Council-Made In Network event were produced by AC Entertainment, a promotions company behind popular music and arts festivals such as Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., and Forecastle in Louisville, Ky. The videos will be featured at those festivals this summer.

Johnson said each cause also has its own associated media outlets where content will be distributed.

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.