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'A Calculated Risk': Why Agencies are Making Social-Justice Documentaries
By: Digiday
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Alfred Lomas was once among the most notoriously dangerous men in L.A. But in “License to Operate,” the former gang leader tells the story of how he linked up with fellow gang veterans to break the cycle of violence. The documentary is gritty, searing and intense. But it’s not currently in any theaters — nor is it an investigative Netflix original. “License to Operate” was made by an advertising agency.

The documentary is the brainchild of Mike Wallen, chief content officer of the L.A.-based agency Omelet. Wallen was working on short pro-bono video for the organization A Better Los Angeles, but he and the short film’s other producers soon realized that it was far too compelling a story.

“It was a calculated risk and a hefty investment for us but also a passion project,” said Wallen. “As an agency, it was an opportunity for us show our clients that we are making good content — beyond just ads.”

Omelet isn’t the only agency to heed the call of the doc. Others, including KBS and J. Walter Thompson, are making independent investments in producing unbranded documentaries of their own that don’t advertise anything — at least not in the traditional sense. These agencies have production muscles to flex, and see an opportunity in aligning with what independent analyst, author and advisor Rebecca Lieb, formerly of the Altimeter Group calls “non-controversial causes” bound to resonate with their audiences, like conservation or female empowerment.

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This article was published on Digiday.com.  A full link to the original piece is after the story. www.digiday.com
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