McGann/Zhang Soothes L.A.’s Waterfront Soul

By Patrick Coffee 

Here’s one of the earliest publicly released campaigns from a new agency born of the collaboration between an ad veteran and a relative newcomer.

We first met L.A./Beijing shop McGann/Zhang back in June, when it created a “Sad Love Story” for NYC Pride. Now the agency is on the other coast trying to save the Los Angeles waterfront.

First a bit of backstory: the McGann in this equation is Geoff McGann, who spent a total of 17 years at Wieden+Kennedy Portland as a CD and executive producer. The second half of the agency is Yichi Zhang, a former JWT intern on the Microsoft account who is known as something of a social media celebrity in China for his WeChat-based tales of a Beijing native gone West. (Here’s a clip that sort of explains how the two came together and started their own agency.)


The new work is for Heal the Bay, a nonprofit created to save the titular body of water via “advocacy and community engagement.”

The primary message of the campaign is that the water is both the economic lifeblood of the area and its emotional center of sorts. As the ocean itself says in “From My Arms” below, “I am the motherload”:

That spot represents the “high” approach in what will be a two-tiered campaign. For another example of the poetic aesthetic in action, here’s “We Are Happy”:

Finally, the ocean itself reminds us that it is “Not a Dream”:

McGann/Zhang says that the “low” portion of this campaign, set to debut next week, will include “prop-humor and live action animation…with anthropomorphized sea animals talking about man’s impact on their home.”

For now, we have a series of GIF-style “cinemagraphs” that the client has been sharing via its Twitter account.

Creative credits:
Agency: McGann/Zhang
Writers: Geoff McGann/Ben Marsh
Art Director: Chase Grammer
Creative Director: Geoff McGann
Producer: Stephen Lattanzi
Production Company: McGann/Zhang
Director: Geoff McGann
Editor: Chase Grammer
Voiceover talent: Robin Emtage
Post Production: McGann/Zhang
Music: Mark Vieha