Reflect the Culture: Sinan Dagli, BSSP

by India Fizer , AdForum

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Sausalito, United States
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Sinan Dagli
Executive Creative Director BSSP

We had the chance to chat with Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners' new Executive Creative Director, Sinan Dagli, about technology as an amplifier for creative ideas and the shift toward virtual, immersive experiences.


Tell us about your role and how long you been working in the world of advertising.

I am the Executive Creative Director at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), where I started my career in advertising as a Junior Interactive Designer in 2009. So, technically, this is my first job.


Are there some common staples or tropes that have developed in recent years within the industry? How do these compare to the ones of 10 or even 20 years ago?

Since the pandemic's beginning, I believe we've embraced still photography in video storytelling due to shooting limitations and the need to be more agile. And, as a photography fanboy, I am loving it. Some of the great examples are NBA on ESPN or Airbnb's Made Possible by Hosts campaign and of course, Behind the Mac by Apple.



Like many things we've embraced during the pandemic, I believe the usage of still photography in video storytelling will continue its prominence.

I started my career in 2009 as an Interactive Designer, which was the peak of the microsite era. For those who remember, every campaign presented to the clients had to have an intricate microsite concept in the deck or was an entire campaign built around microsites. I remember those days fondly. We had started dabbling with interactive installations, microsites with budgets rivaling TV spots, and the race to the highest unique visitors. Slowly, the resurgence of smartphones, fast mobile data plans, and the explosion of social media led to short attention spans resulting in a shift away from the microsite era. 


What were some aspects or qualities about ads from the past that you feel modern advertising could benefit from adopting?

I am not sure if the readers would agree; I feel like we, as an industry, moved away from humor. The spots that we see are either pulling on our heartstrings, empowering, or dramatic. I constantly reference old spots from Gerry Graf; though they are from years ago, they still hold up. Here is my favorite:


Was the work approached differently or have the methods remained the same? 

To quote Nina Simone (which I often do), "An artist's duty is to reflect the times." As storytellers, we are reflecting our times in this current political and socio-economic climate. Our best approach is to be authentic about what is going on in our culture. 


How have ads evolved to keep up with technological and cultural advancements such as smartphones and the internet?

As an industry, we are at our best when we use technology to amplify an idea. The best examples are where technology effortlessly blends in to form the perfect marriage between the concept and the execution. The State Farm x ESPN commercial that ran during ESPN’s Last Dance Documentary is a great reference for that. Without the use of deepfake technology, that spot may not have been as impactful.


Do you feel as though ageism is a problem in the advertising industry?

Ageism is a problem in every industry, and advertising isn't an exception. In the constant pursuit of the "new," we may overlook the importance of experience, know-how and make preconceived judgments on people. When discussing discrimination of any kind in the workplace, ageism must be part of the conversation.


What advertisements do you remember seeing when you were younger that left an impression on you, and why do you think they stayed with you? 

After all these years, the one that stayed with me is from the legendary director, Michael Mann's "Leave Nothing" Nike Football spot. 


Like most of Michael Mann's iconic work, even after 14 years, the spot is still as powerful. Every detail is perfect, from the camera techniques, the seamless shift from the relentless defensive plays to offensive plays, to of course, the most memorable element of the spot, the choice of music, "Promontory" which was initially composed for Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans.


Looking to the future, where do you think the advertisement industry is heading?

I believe we will see the industry having a prominent presence in VR, which will shift our way of storytelling to be more immersive, 360 experiences. We are already seeing live music and concert experiences in the Metaverse, like the most recent Justin Bieber live show. It won't be long until we see sponsorships and branded entertainment to be part of the virtual world.