Bob Nelson on Joining Eyeball

With 25 years of ad industry experience under his belt, Bob Nelson recently joined New York City-based design studio Eyeball as President. Given his ties with the agency world, Mr. Nelson’s new role caught our attention here at Motionographer HQ, so we emailed him with a few questions:

Do you think the role of the advertising agency is fundamentally changing somehow? What about the role of the studio?

This is what’s changed, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone: media and media platforms continue to proliferate, and production continues to democratize.

So if you were a company that built yourself on multi-million dollar production budgets and 3 television networks, you probably no longer exist — unless you’ve made fundamental changes. That applies to advertising agencies and to studios.

The only reason to be a multi-layered cumbersome organization is to service another multi-layered cumbersome organization.

In my career, there has been a single common denominator to innovative, exciting, and successful work: create the situation where my creative leader can sit down with a client’s key decision maker and allow them to come to some conclusions about what they like and what they don’t like, what they want to produce and what they don’t.

In the past, the limitations on execution were usually financial. You needed a huge shoot and weeks of high-end post-production. There is a new way to do things now. Eyeball has learned it through years of production for broadcast networks. It’s more affordable, it’s just as creative, and it is very liberating.

What do you think about entities like R/GA and Attik who started as design service shops but evolved into agencies? Is that the plan for Eyeball?

I think eyeball has a lot in common with those companies, but we do not have a ‘plan’ to announce that we have now changed into something else. Our plan is to keep doing what the company has always done: to create, to produce, to innovate, and to grow.

We are a multifarious design company with a visionary founder, my partner, Limore Shur. Our clients include advertising agencies, advertisers, broadcast networks, and gaming developers. Our work runs on giant screens, medium screens, small screens, silk-screens, and live installations. Our executions encompass animation, graphics, CGI, 3-D, live-action, and dialogue. For eyeball this is not a new plan. It’s the same plan, done better. We enjoy collaboration with smart and talented people. We want to find those people wherever they work, and we want them to find us.

Limore grew up in an artistic family. His father and brother are accomplished composers, his mother, an accomplished dancer. We see the company as a unique group of visual choreographers. When we are shooting live-action, for example, Limore has the ability to improvise and get as much footage as possible, and to marry it with animation in new ways. Shoots can sometimes be more like jam sessions in a music studio– laying down great tracks and building a great song.

Eyeball is known for their broadcast work. With you joining the team as President, it sends a clear message that you intend for Eyeball’s reputation to shift more towards advertising. What’s your strategy for bringing that change about?

I joined eyeball because Limore was looking for a business partner and so was I. I have spent my career collaborating with, and nurturing, great creative talent. We are both confident with our abilities, and we know we will be stronger together.

The quality and the breadth of eyeball’s work immediately jumped out at me. I wanted to be a part of it. The talent and personality of Limore and Executive Producer Ben Spivak excited me. I knew we could be a successful team.

But the clincher was that I immediately knew that I could bring an important contribution to the company. Eyeball is known for broadcast work, because broadcast clients have been coming back for more than a decade. What is not talked about is that eyeball’s advertisers come back as well. We are currently working on our 5th or 6th project for one major retailer, and have produced more than a dozen jobs for another. We currently have 2 commercial projects in the house from advertising agencies. Several years ago eyeball collaborated on Bioshock, which was named ‘game of the year’ in multiple reviews.

The new message—the one I want to add—is that I understand the world of an advertiser, and the world of an advertising agency. If you are a creative director or producer at an agency, you will find someone here who understands and respects the months you have put into your creative idea before it reached eyeball’s door. You will find a nurturing process for your project and your team. If you are an advertiser, you will find a team at eyeball that thinks strategically and conceptually.

I don’t know how many of our competitors have a partner who has spent 25 years as an executive at major agencies. I don’t know how many other design studios have the maturity and experience to present in a Fortune 500 boardroom. That’s a unique message, and I believe it will create some unique opportunities for eyeball.


About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.