In 2023, Launch Agency teamed up with Baylor Scott & White Health and the Dallas Stars to bring you Motivotter––the inner voice of Dallas Stars’ goalie, Jake Oettinger. This season, a new character has emerged and he’s got his own heavy-metal theme song. Meet Phenomenotter, the animated flying otter who comes to life every time Jake Oettinger unleashes his power on the ice.

The animated film featuring Phenomenotter was created by Psyop’s award-winning animator Gary Levesque with Wizz. Both agency and client collaborated on the catchy lyrics that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head. And composer, Damon Criswell did the arrangement with local 80s-crooner, Travis Willis hitting all the high notes. If the :30 leaves you wanting more, you can listen to the full minute-long song here.

The multi-channel campaign drives to Phenomenotter.com and an AR filter on Instagram and TikTok created in partnership with Subvrsive. The filter allows fans to unleash their inner superhero by transforming into Phenomenotter just like Jake. After all, “he’s a metaphor for the power inside you and me.”

To further inspire fans to use the AR filter, a social video is making the rounds featuring local sports personalities like “Gen X Davey” Lane and Bob Sturm from The Hardline on the The Ticket, Dallas Stars announcer, Daryl “Razor” Reaugh and Hilary Asher of the Dallas Stars Ice Girls.

Since the debut of the campaign, Stars fans can’t stop singing the Phenomenotter song. Many are filling social media with their own memes, GIFs and even a custom Phenomenotter jersey. If the goal was fan engagement, Baylor Scott & White Health is already scoring big.

Baylor Scott & White Health is proud to be the official healthcare partner of the Dallas Stars.


Client: Baylor Scott & White Health

Animation Company: Wizz with Psyop

Lead Animator: Gary Levesque, Psyop

Producer: Melissa Stephano

Production Company: Charlie Uniform Tango

AR Company: Subvrsive

Digital Producer: Alicia Conner, See Pictures

Principal/Creative Director: David Wilgus, Launch Agency

Principal/Creative Director: Diane Seimetz Duncan, Launch Agency

Creative Director/Art Director: Brian Dedering, Launch Agency

Creative Director/Copywriter: April Steinbach, Launch Agency

Copywriter/Songwriter: Isaac Swedlow, Launch Agency

Composer: Damon Criswell

Singer: Travis Willis 

Producer: Jaime Roderer, Dogtails Media Lab

Account Director/Principal: Jason Giles, Launch Agency

Account Director: Cortney Fly, Launch Agency

Account Executive: Lucy Galloway, Launch Agency

Director, Creative and Brand Management: Ben Day, Baylor Scott & White Health

Brand Manager/Sports Sponsorships/Digital: Tyson Stuart, Baylor Scott & White Health

Marketing Producer Creative & Brand Management: Megan Doss, Baylor Scott & White Health


Dak’s been setting records with his arm. But last night, all eyes were on his feet.

As part of the annual NFL My Cause My Cleats initiative, Dak teamed up with sneaker designer Jake Danklefs of Dank & Co and Baylor Scott & White Health to raise awareness for early cancer detection and encourage people to get screened.

His cleats were inspired by the heartwarming story of a young woman, Sydney Benton, who narrowly avoided colorectal cancer thanks to an early screening. Sydney’s story struck a chord with Dak because of his own mother’s passing in 2013 to colon cancer, and he wanted to help tell her story to inspire other people to follow her lead.

So, we invited Sydney for an interview to talk about her experience with early detection. However, she had no idea that her favorite NFL player was waiting eagerly to meet her, or that he would be featuring her story on his cleats during primetime Thursday night football. The surprise reveal was an incredibly moving moment, which directors Andy Mahr and Ashton Rodgers captured beautifully.

Watch the story

What’s really remarkable about this initiative is seeing how much power a single story can have. Sydney has already started inspiring others to get screened, such as her mom and her older sister. And with the help of Dak and the Dallas Cowboys amplifying her voice, her story has the potential to impact many, many more.

Client: Baylor Scott & White Health

Director: Andy Mahr & Ashton Rodgers

Post Production: Charlie Uniform Tango

Photographer: Andy Mahr, Mahr Images 

Principal/Creative Director: David Wilgus, Launch Agency

Principal/Creative Director: DianeSeimetz, Launch Agency

Group Creative Director/Copywriter: April Steinbach, Launch Agency

Creative Director/Art Director: Brian Dedering, Launch Agency

Associate Creative Director: Caleb Alba, Launch Agency

Copywriter: Isaac Swedlow, Launch Agency

Account Director: Jason Giles, Launch Agency

Account Director: Cortney Fly, Launch Agency

Account Executive: Lucy Galloway, Launch Agency

Producer: Jaime Roderer, Launch Agency

Director of Creative: Ben Day, Baylor Scott & White Health

Brand Manager/Sports Sponsorships/Digital: Tyson Stuart, Baylor Scott & White Health

Director of Consumer Marketing/Brand Strategy & Planning: Kristn Owens, Baylor Scott & White Health

Brand Planning & Strategy: Robin Kraase, Baylor Scott & White Health

Marketing Producer Creative & Brand Management: Megan Doss, Baylor Scott & White Health

Senior PR Marketing Consultant: Eric Keese, Baylor Scott & White Health

Launch takes off at Addys

Every year, AAF Dallas hosts the American Advertising Awards honoring the best in TV, digital, print, OOH, experiential and more. This year’s celebration did not disappoint! We’re still buzzing from a great night highlighting outstanding work created by all our favorite advertising friends and family around Dallas.

Our “Much Better” TV spot for Baylor Scott & White Health won Judge’s Choice Award.

Our Baylor Scott & White Health “So Much Better” TV Campaign racked up several awards, including the coveted Judges Choice Award for Film, Video & Sound, as well as a bronze in the regional/national TV campaign category, individual TV category and sound design. Special thanks to Director Jaci Judelson and our friends at Charlie Uniform Tango for helping us bring these beautiful spots to life.

Astrid Andujar from Droga5 gives Launch the AAF Judge’s Choice Award for TV, Video & Film.

Our Baylor Scott & White Health “Drive-Thru” Radio took home a bronze Addy.
Launchers Richard Wezensky, Alexa Perez and Macy Barbee show their Addys love .

Our Park Place “My Place” Campaign also took home a bronze in the online category. This campaign really gets to the heart of what makes clients say “Park Place is My Place.” High fives to Director Andrew Ryan Shepherd and the talented crew at Lucky Post for helping us create these lovely spots.

The “My Place” Campaign features real Park Place clients, like award-winning gospel singer, Kirk Franklin
Launchers proudly display their Addys hardware!

High fives to AAF Dallas for hosting such a wonderful party honoring all the talented ad agencies, production houses and clients that make Dallas great!

Summin’ up the Summit

Earlier this week, Launch sent two of our brightest young stars, Alexa Perez and Alejandro Hernandez to Digital Summit Dallas, one of the biggest digital marketing gatherings in the country. They came back full of tips and insights from some of today’s most talented digital marketing leaders and visionaries.

Summit Keynote Speaker: David “Shingy” Shing, Australian futurist & digital consultant

Topics covered not only encompassed trends in our industry, but also ways to improve productivity. Workshops focused on everything from “Moving Prospects through the Consumer Journey with Solid Content and Digital Marketing Strategy” to “How to become a Pop Marketer.”

“This event emphasized that you always have to stay on top of the trends. The digital world is moving faster than we can imagine, you have to break the rules to set yourself apart,” said Launcher Alejandro Hernandez. 

Alexa and Alejandro plan on sharing all these inspiring new insights and learnings with the agency at one of our upcoming Launch & Learns.

How Technology Has Changed the Creative Process (and Why It’s a Good Thing)

Technology has come a long way since the typewriter era of advertising.  It’s hard to believe that in 1990, 99% of households had no internet.  We’ve seen massive technological advancements over the past 40 years, from the Internet of Things to cell phones to blockchain, which have impacted not only our personal lives, but the way we market products as well. Things like digital video, which only got a dedicated platform with YouTube in 2005, have exploded in just a short time.  New research reveals that almost 60% of advertisers’ budgets are allocated to digital video, and nearly half of these advertisers plan on upping this spend over the next year, a shift from the dominance of cable TV ads in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Launch Principal Dave Wilgus understands this shift – indeed, he’s lived it.  Growing up, Dave had a passion for art, design, and film, which led to the start of his advertising career with an internship at TracyLocke in the late ‘70s.  While the casual jeans-and-T-shirt uniform of his early advertising days is the same, just about everything else has changed. “This is going to make me sound ancient, but when I began my career the technology being used in advertising at the time was primitive compared to what we use today,” Dave says.  “Before computers, we drew marker comps by hand to illustrate advertising ideas for client presentations.  I still carry a few Xacto blade scars from the early days.”

Does tech help or harm creativity?

Now, of course, things that took ages to create can be done much more quickly thanks to technology.  But what’s been the real impact of technology on creativity?  And has technology made it easier or harder to be creative?  The answer lies somewhere in between. “We believe that great creative starts with a strong consumer insight,” he says. “Our creative approach is always closely tied to consumers’ needs and identified through listening and research. Technology really allows us to collect more targeted audience data than in the past and that helps us get to better insight-driven ideas, making it easier to be more creative.” Of course, problems arise when large companies abuse customer data instead of respecting customer data privacy, generating distrust between brands and consumers.  It’s this trust that has become crucial to building a successful brand – more than one in three consumers cite trust as their top reason for shopping with a certain company. “This aggravation has birthed new technologies like ad blockers to keep advertisers away, making it harder to be creative,” Dave notes.

Limitations breed opportunities

While it’s only natural that consumers would take steps to protect their privacy, there are still plenty of non-invasive opportunities for advertising professionals to experiment with delivering messages. “Our creative philosophy has not changed, but our processes have evolved to put new emphasis on creative collaboration involving diverse technology expertise,” he says. It’s collaboration that has always been at the heart of advertising, and that collaboration will help agencies adapt to future technological changes. “The creative process is really about breaking down those siloes,” Dave says.  “We might include a traditional writer and art director team along with an interactive designer, social content creator, and digital media expert on a new project. Harnessing the collective energy and technological expertise of the agency leads to better ideas.”

Embracing Tech to Create Great

Bringing these areas of expertise together often leads to innovative uses of new technologies.  Dave points to the recent “JFK Unsilenced” ad from Irish agency Rothco on behalf of the Times of London as one example, which uses artificial intelligence and thousands of data points to help Kennedy deliver the speech he’d been scheduled to give on the day of his death. “I grew up here in Dallas and my father-in-law was a reporter waiting at the Trade Mart for Kennedy to deliver the speech,” he says. “Being able to hear JFK’s actual voice give that speech is a powerful experience and is a great example of how to use technology to engage a worldwide audience with a brand whose mission is to deliver innovative storytelling and insightful journalism to the global community it serves.” The creative use of AI in this spot points to the limitless potential of technology to make messages that would have never before been possible.  And more traditional digital paths are opening to marketers, like the recently launched IGTV, which presents new avenues in the realm of video. “We have to be hungry for what’s next and always looking for ways brands can leverage technology to attract and engage consumers,” Dave says.  “Of course, the ultimate challenge for creatives in the future will be the same challenge we face today – engage and influence people who don’t want to be interrupted by ads!”

Advertising Isn’t Dead, it Just Smells Funny: Report from ad:tech New York

This past November, Associate Creative Director Alex Slotkin had the opportunity to visit New York City for the ad:tech conference, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. He was surrounded by people from lots of high-profile organizations, from Amazon, Google and McDonald’s to agencies like David & Goliath and Droga5 and even academics from Harvard and St. John’s. Needless to say, it was a knowledgeable crowd.

The event was billed as “how to innovate in the post-advertising era and move our industry forward.” But the burning question on his mind (and no doubt those of many other attendees) was more like: “What is happening to advertising, and what the heck are we supposed to do about it?” Two days and nineteen seminars later, Alex has some answers.


It’s not the end of advertising, it’s the end of interruption

“One thing every panelist and presenter seemed to agree on was that agencies and brands can no longer rely on getting in the way of what people want to see,” says Alex.

Technology and societal changes have radically increased consumers’ options and changed their expectations—especially when it comes to Gen Z. They want to be engaged, not interrupted, and they are way too savvy to be held captive to traditional marketing.

“Instead of interrupting someone’s day with a mass marketing message, we need to shift to giving people what they actually want,” says Alex.  “Think branded utility:  providing helpful tools to solve their real-world problems and improve their lives. Also think branded entertainment and experiences:  content they’ll actively seek out because it’s truly awesome, not something they have to endure to get to the good stuff.”

 A bit of downtime between panelists. A bit of downtime between panelists.


Stop thinking like a brand. Start thinking like a person

A word that came up again and again at the conference was authenticity. As Iwona Alter, CMO of Jack in the Box, said, we must “engage authentically [and] connect intimately.” This means moving from a transactional to an emotional mindset, and thinking of our audience not in terms of what they buy but what they believe in. It’s an area in which social media excels, making our messages feel less like marketing and more like a conversation between people.


Take a digital-first approach

Traditional agencies often treat digital as a second-class citizen, one expected to pick up on concepts created originally for TV and print. But more and more, consumers are making social media and digital outlets their primary source for entertainment and information, so we need to make it our primary vehicle for brands.

“By thinking digital-first, we can unlock innovative new ways to break through and connect, without being hamstrung by the constraints of traditional media,” says Alex.

A prime example presented at the conference was the Nissan Battle Test VR experience, a fully immersive virtual test drive of the Nissan Rogue across a planet-scape from Star Wars: Rogue One. Another was an Intel-sponsored staging of The Tempest with the Royal Shakespeare Company, featuring motion capture technology that allows actors to play virtual, holographic characters that are fully integrated with live performers. Neither experience could have happened if their respective brands hadn’t started with a digital mindset.


Be transparent

Another big word at the conference was transparency.

“In the digital/online age, we can’t hide the truth from consumers, so we must take the risk of being honest with them to create a sense of trust—flaws and all,” says Alex. “Transparency also needs to extend to our partnerships with clients, media partners and data providers. By moving away from a proprietary, walled-garden mentality and toward a spirit of collaboration, sharing, and honesty, we can all benefit.”


Be dynamic

These days, everything is becoming a video game. Audiences expect to be active participants, interacting with content instead of just consuming it. Meanwhile, Gen Z-ers have made the camera on their smartphone their new home screen, giving them the ability to create, remix and share at a moment’s notice. As such, we need to start focusing on user-created experiences instead of pre-scripted narratives. This means relinquishing control over our messages, and inviting users to join in and create with us, giving them the feeling that the brand is responding to them in real time.


Be culture-savvy

It’s our responsibility to be students of the zeitgeist and fluent in the cultural language, particularly when it comes to Gen Z. Going back to authenticity, it is not enough to merely name-check music, movies, TV shows, celebrity culture, and slang.

“We must develop a real, nuanced understanding of how they work and get involved with creators in deep, meaningful ways,” says Alex. “If we only have a surface understanding and don’t sweat the details, we risk doing more harm than good to our brands.”


 Image c/o Jack in the Box Image c/o Jack in the Box

A great example that cropped up at the conference was Jack in the Box’s Robot Delivery, which smartly tapped into the disruptive technology du jour of Uber and Doordash. Jack in the Box also found a way to reach ad-averse gamers by creating custom “Crave Vans mods,” which added branded skins to on-screen cars in a popular video game.


Get in early and stand out

As consumers become more informed, and as AI tech like Alexa starts to influence their buying decisions (or even chooses for them), brand loyalty continues to erode. A recent study from McKinsey found that 87% of consumers now shop around vs. sticking to brands they know, and 50% shift brands from purchase to purchase.

This underscores the importance of keeping our brands relevant.

“We must practice ‘pre-tail,’ or getting noticed early in the customer journey,” says Alex. “We can use data for a better understanding of our customers and where they look for ideas even before they are in purchase mode.”

And when we’re needed, we need to be present and stand out with smart messaging in the right places, while keeping a close eye on our online reputation.


Harness emerging tech tools and trends

As you would expect from a conference called ad:tech, new and emerging technologies were a major focus of discussion. Here are the ones that featured most prominently:

  • AI (artificial intelligence): The glut of data out there offers incredible opportunity—but it can also lead to cognitive overload. This is where AI shines, turning data into meaning more readily. Despite some of the fears around AI, it is most useful as an enhancement to human interaction rather than a replacement. We see this now with intelligent agents, such as online chatbots and Alexa, which answer questions and help customers make smart decisions in a more efficient way. But the future of this technology is in creating “artificial empathy” and a more “human-literate” experience. To stay in front of this trend, agencies need to start acting like “AI-gencies.” This means thinking in terms of non-linear, dynamic storytelling (or narratology), where copywriting gives way to character development and art direction becomes narrative design. AI can also help agencies rethink production, treating creative content as modular pieces that can be automatically combined on the fly to produce custom-tailored messages for specific audiences.
  • AR (augmented reality): The ability to create a data and/or graphical overlay over the real world using camera tracking and mobile and wearable devices is a trend that will continue to grow, especially with emerging standards like ARKit from Apple. This gives us an opportunity to create interactive, branded experiences that are deeply engaging and incredibly sharable. We see this now with AR games like Pokemon Go and the Animoji feature on the new iPhone X. Another great example at the conference was Nissan’s Diehard Fan campaign, allowing college football fans to apply virtual face-paint and create custom videos supporting their favorite team.
  • Blockchain: As the underlying technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Blockchain has become somewhat of a buzzword. But it is playing an increasingly important role in the world of digital marketing, given its ability to create a trusted relationship with consumers. By using a highly encrypted, peer-to-peer shared ledger system without gatekeepers, Blockchain helps users control and share their personal data with marketers in a trusted way. As brands and agencies depend more on rich data to tailor messages, technologies like Blockchain that encourage sharing will be vital. And because users have greater control over how their personal information is shared, we must offer content they truly value in exchange for their personal information and be transparent about it.
  • Podcasts: Unlike traditional terrestrial radio, podcasts provide a sense of intimacy and authenticity you can’t find in other media. As one panelist put it, podcasts deliver “a full-size experience on a mobile device.” By working with established podcasters, as well as creating our own original branded podcasts, we can build an ongoing relationship and sense of trust with niche audiences that represent the sweet spot for our brands.
  • Voice: With the rise of Alexa, Google Home and Siri, it’s clear that voice interfaces are one of the next frontiers for marketing. One panelist claimed that, by 2020, 70% of households will own a two-way audio device. This begs the question: What does our brand sound like? And how can we use this technology to create brand conversations with consumers? Because these interfaces are receiving constant updates and gaining new abilities, we need to start finding ways to be present on them. The best place to start is by focusing on what customers already want and need most from our brands, then figuring out how to convert that into a voice-activated request.


The bottom line

Frank Zappa said it best in his quote about the state of jazz music: “Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny.” Like jazz, the advertising business isn’t going anywhere. But it is changing, and it may even seem unrecognizable at times. If we have the bravery to adapt to the changes instead of hanging on to the past, we can be even better at reaching consumers.

But to get there, we must focus on being informative and entertaining instead of interruptive and annoying.

“We need to foster better collaboration between creative and technical experts and think tech first,” says Alex. “We need to shift our creative process from pre-scripted to hyper-personalized. We need to bring in people from lots of different disciplines and cultivate agency hybrids. And most of all, we must realize that by becoming fluent with the changes.”