Blog Archives

Marc Stryker

Marc Stryker

Marc Stryker is the Director of Media at Penna Powers. A New Jersey native and New York advertising alum, Marc is proud to call Utah his adopted home.

We’re still in the age of Peak TV, where an endless stream of original programming is coming at us in all directions. And that’s before tech behemoths Apple and Facebook have even dipped more than their toes in the TV waters. As it becomes a constant struggle to stay on top of it all, you have to wonder when, not if, the TV bubble will burst. One day Netflix will run out of subscriber money and they’ll need to turn to… gasp… advertisers for another revenue stream.

We’re all watching so many different TV shows, it’s really hard to build a consensus list of top picks. But we did it anyway. You’re welcome, blog readers:

This is Us – NBC’s tearjerker drama continued to impress us, as did actor Sterling K. Brown at this year’s Emmy Awards. He deserved his award (thankfully beating out Kevin Spacey pre-scandal), as he acted the snot out of his half season-long arc with his dying father. People, if you have any humanity left in you, sit down and watch this show.

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Mindhunter – Okay, from here on out, it gets a little less warm-hearted as we descend into serial killer psychology with the David Fincher produced (and directed half of the episodes) Mindhunter. Come watch Jonathan Groff (acted and sang the part of evil Kristoff in Frozen) and Holt McCallany do the dirty serial killer profiling work no one in the FBI could imagine doing. Based somewhat loosely on real-life events. Never fun to watch, but always compelling.

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Rick & Morty – We’re often told that young males aren’t watching TV anymore. Rick & Morty is 100% proof that they still are. And it’s usually with this show and the rest of Adult Swim (Cartoon Network’s after hours block). The show is absolute bonkers, which is understandable when you find out that it’s from the demented mind of Dan Harmon (Community and HarmonQuest). And it also generated a McDonalds scandal this year, when fans demanded their Mulan-inspired Szechuan sauce and the restaurant somewhat obliged them.

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Game of Thrones – Season 6 was polarizing for many fans, as characters seemed to teleport from place to place with ease and characters did weird and stupid things. Now that GOT writers have surpassed the plot lines of author George R. R. Martin’s own books, have they lost the Westeros vibe? Who knows, but it still pleased enough of the staff to get it on our list. Did you check out that fiery loot train battle? And an ice dragon? And aunt/nephew dangerous liaisons?

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GLOW – Sure, it’s ostensibly about the creation of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling TV show back in the 80’s, but that hook is kind of a Trojan Horse for a lot of other ideas about ambition, friendship, women’s rights and identity. It could be seen as an older sister 80’s nostalgia companion to Netflix’s other hit, Stranger Things.

The Handmaid’s Tale – The first streaming show to win a best drama Emmy and it happened on Hulu! Netflix was certainly flogging itself after the news and later cursing its collaboration with the disgraced Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed 1985 novel, the show achieved major cultural relevance in the wake of the women’s march against President Trump. And then that Harvey Weinstein thing happened…

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The Good Place – With the track record producer Michael Shur has (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), it’s no surprise that The Good Place is a great show. We wondered where they would take it after the big twist at the end of Season One, but Season Two is even better. Time for another Jacksonville dance battle.

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Legion – Now that Disney purchased Fox Television, (Legion debuted on FX), this 8-episode series superhero/mental illness drama might get the Marvel overhaul, but that would be a mistake. Creator Noah Hawley scored with his adapation of Fargo from film to television and he’s doing pretty well with this one. But it was weird and challenging enough to keep most people away with its non-linear storytelling and Audrey Plaza weirdness. Not our creative department though.

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Master of None – What’s with all these comedians trying to be Woody Allen circa 1979? Well, if they’re done in the style that Aziz Ansari brought to his wonderful Master of None, we’ll take it. The show has its pretentious moments, but it’s also very open and honest and welcoming, giving voice to people who don’t normally get character depth on television. Tom Haverford, you’ve come along way since your days at Entertainment 720.

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Stranger Things – The overwhelming consensus as the number one show of 2017, Stranger Things 2 was equally binge-worthy as the first season. More 80’s pop culture references, more Demogorgons and more government secrets to unravel – the show probably needed more for Eleven to do than fall in with a bunch of unconvincing X-Men punks, but it still delivered the goods we craved.

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Honorable Mentions: The Leftovers, Godless, Insecure, Chicago Med, Bloodline, Marco Polo, Preacher, The Ranch, The Crown, Trial & Error, The Long Road Home, Manhunt: Unabomber, Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, Desus & Mero

Did we miss any of your favorite TV shows? Let us hear it in the comments.

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Every year we ask the Penna Powers staff to list the top movies they saw. These are the best movies of 2017 that moved, entertained, challenged or inspired us.

 

Wonder Woman – You’d be forgiven if you had seen Batman V Superman and seriously worried about the viability of a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. It had all the makings of a train wreck. While the opening Themyscira scenes had some cringe-worthy CW-level posturing and acting, we quickly got pulled into the story thanks to the incredible charisma of star Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’s assured direction. Wonder Woman, we believe in you.

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The Big Sick – You may know Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh from Silicon Valley fame, but here he nicely dials it back as a struggling stand-up comic who falls back in love with his ex-girlfriend while she’s in a coma. Based on true events and written with his now-wife Emily Gordon, we really dug the story and performances, especially Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents.

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John Wick 2 – After Keanu Reeves’s titular character avenged the death of his dearly departed dog, he thought he could just lead a quiet civilian life. Of course he’s mistaken and soon has to kill lots of bad guys in hyper-stylized and brutal ways.

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Thor: Ragnarok – After the dreadful Thor:The Dark World, something had to be done to give life to the God of Thunder. Enter Taika Waititi, director of the fantastic faux vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows and the quirky brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Pretty much directing a Thor/Hulk buddy movie, he brings a desperately needed dose of humor and buoyancy before the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s dour slide into the Infinity Wars.

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Dunkirk – Some movies must be seen in a movie theater – Dunkirk is one of those movies. Director Christopher Nolan out-Nolaned himself once again by delivering a war movie that defied all of the usual conventions associated with the genre, all in under two hours. You’re provided absolutely no back story to any of these characters. There’s no helpful historical context (although a title card provides some), no explanation of what a “mole” means or preparation for the three timelines depicted. You’re dropped into it just like the film’s non-descript soldiers. It’s basically a horror movie masquerading as a war survival tale. And it’s an amazing cinematic experience.

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Get Out – Call it a horror film, comedy, social parable or whatever else you want, Get Out managed to capture the zeitgeist of racial anxieties in a Trump-presided America. Comedian Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame), nails his directorial debut with a tale that will literally get under your skin. If you went to the theater to see M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy Split, you probably saw the Get Out trailer and thought, “What the hell?”. No, not hell, just the Sunken Place.

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Logan – Marvel got serious with Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the iconic Wolverine. It pretty much amounts to a graphically violent 2017 comic-book version of the western Shane-meets-Unforgiven. It has some killer moments, like when a dementia-afflicted Professor X nearly destroys the world, or at least Las Vegas.

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Blade Runner 2049 – Not everyone’s cup of tea, but neither was the original. Why anyone gave acclaimed director Denis Villaneuve (Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners) this much money to direct a 3-hour sci-fi art film is beyond movie studio logic. But hey, we dug the outcome. If you loved the first film (before it became a cult classic that you were obligated to love), then you probably loved this.

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It – Who would’ve thought a Stephen King-adapted September movie release would become the highest-grossing horror movie of all time? Riding Stephen King’s coat tails doesn’t always result in box office success (for every Shawshank Redemption, there’s a Dreamcatcher), but the marketing team deserves an Oscar for properly seeding the sinister trailer that suddenly got everyone excited about killer clowns. We can now properly bury the horrible TV movie adaptation starring Tim Curry.

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You might ask yourself, “That’s all very well and good, Penna Powers, but where is The Last Jedi?” Great question! Well, it’s not because it went unseen at press time. It’s just that there are too many fan boys here who have religiously studied the Jedi scrolls and have declared The Last Jedi a blasphemous mess. Some of us vehemently disagree, but not enough to get the movie on the list. We’re terribly sorry – all apologies to director Rian Johnson for having the chutzpah to try something different.

Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baby Driver, Call Me By Your Name, Alien: Covenant, A Dog’s Purpose, Wonder, Wind River, Logan Lucky, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Last Jedi, The Disaster Artist, Girls Trip

So what made your top 10 movie list this year? Please please share in the comments! And check out our past movie lists for 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.

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Two decades. Twenty years. Penna Powers just marked another major milestone, celebrating the twentieth year that our dedicated VP of Project Management, Christine Menges, has been in the building. Not only has she been in the building, she’s been rocking the very foundation of this place with elevated account service, polished professionalism and an unmatched penchant for brand policing.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Chris headed for the Beehive State after graduating from Portland State University’s School of Business. She arrived at Penna Powers after various gigs, from selling ads in the daily newspaper, to getting an ad agency education wearing multiple hats and kicking various asses all across town.

At Penna Powers, Chris blossomed into the plaid-hating, don’t-touch-her-lamp juggernaut she is today. Employees and clients alike have benefitted from Chris’s unique combination of Portlandia counter-culture personality and air-tight, borderline OCD commitment to organization and detail. Chris will always give you her best effort and marshal the agency’s forces in the most efficient and effective manner. And, always right on strategy and right on schedule.

So we congratulate Chris on her double decade derring-do. And welcome many more years of her grit and intelligence in taking our clients to the next level. But always remember this – at Penna Powers, dead men actually do wear plaid, if you happen to cross paths with the formidable Christine Menges.

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In a fragmented media world with no M.A.S.H. or Cheers finale to be found, the Super Bowl has become our national TV holiday. It wasn’t until 2010 when the Super Bowl’s audience finally surpassed that legendary M.A.S.H. finale (106 million viewers back in 1983). Now, it’s unlikely any other program will ever be able to challenge it as the most watched.

Besides being an overhyped contest between two NFL football teams, the Super Bowl is the only program that inspires viewers to say they often enjoy the ads just as much, if not more than, the game. There is a ton of pressure for each advertiser to entertain, innovate and perhaps, sell something.

So we’re shining the spotlight on some brands who will be going beyond the 30-second spot this year. Here’s what we’re looking forward to:

Snickers – The Mars brand will be airing the first LIVE Super Bowl spot. We don’t know much, but we do know it will be Western-themed and star Adam Driver (or at least his cardboard cut-out). Snickers has been teasing it on TV, Facebook and YouTube:

Hyundai – The Korean car brand is teaming up with NFL legends and director, Peter Berg (Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon) to shoot its 90-second commercial in real time during the Super Bowl. Apparently, they’re going to mix in some actual game footage, as well as shots from service men and women enjoying the game. The spot will air right after the final whistle blows. Can’t wait to see how they pull this off.

84 Lumber – While some brands use their Super Bowl spot to generally increase public opinion of the company, this supply materials brand will be the first Super Bowl advertiser to run a pure recruitment message. The company will be launching a massive hiring spree, and is perfectly fine spending $5 million to do it. Its first try at a spot was rejected by Fox, who evidently thought it too political, with its images of walls and ladders.

T-Mobile – Every Super Bowl has to have a celebrity redemption story. This year’s prize goes to T-Mobile using the much maligned Justin Bieber as it’s MC for the history of the Touchdown Dance. Will you Beliebe?

Zero Fatalities – In the spirit of the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, UDOT’s Zero Fatalities traffic safety education program will be showcasing the winner of its #ZeroBowl contest. Teens all across the state submitted their best 30-second spot focused on a safe driving message. Look for this spot at the end of the third quarter. We are super impressed with the talent on display. While we can’t show you the winning spot  yet, here’s one of the finalists:

So sit back, grab a snack and enjoy the ads, er, the game!

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