Dirty Robber has tapped Jasper Thomlinson as the company’s new head of branded content. Reporting to Dirty Robber CEO Chris Uettwiller, Thomlinson will lead the strategic expansion of the division, which had success with the groundbreaking Nike documentary “Breaking2.” It also comes on the heels of the company’s recent Oscar win for its live-action short film “Two Distant Strangers,” a film that was co-directed by Dirty Robber’s Founding Partner and Creative Director Martin Desmond Roe.
Thomlinson was recently a partner at Caviar Content where he helped open new offices in Paris, London and Madrid. His campaign work included Burger King’s Google Home (Grand Prix winner at Cannes), Gillette’s “Perfect Isn’t Pretty” (Cannes Gold) and Adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing” (Cannes Gold). Thomlinson also won other awards with Toyota, Nike and AT&T, and created Super Bowl ads for Mountain Dew and T-Mobile. While at Caviar, Thomlinson also served as executive producer on “Cheer,” a Netflix show that won three Emmys in 2020; “The Rider” directed by Chloé Zhao, which won awards at Cannes and Berlin, as well as hitting President Barack Obama’s top ten list in 2018; “Jawline,” a Hulu feature documentary that won the audience award at Sundance; and two other Netflix features, “Sun Dogs” and “Between Us.”
In recent years, companies have changed their approach to branded content. Instead of hard sells on cars, soft drinks, beer or what-have-you, they are backing documentaries and features that embrace the spirit of their product. That was certainly the case with Dirty Robber’s “Breaking2,” which aired in partnership with National Geographic and chronicled a Nike sponsored attempt to shatter the two-hour barrier for the marathon.
“If you do it well, audiences don’t care if a brand is paying for it or a studio is paying for it or their mom is paying for it,” says Roe. “If you do it poorly and it feels like an advert then what is the point? It has to be a film that tells a story.”
“The communication playbook for brands has been entirely rewritten over the last few years,” added Uettwiller. “Social media and the internet have created an era of transparency where it’s no longer effective to simply ‘sell’ your product. Increasingly, customers want emotional connections and authenticity, and that happens through storytelling. Nobody understands this better than Jasper, who has been guiding Fortune 500 brands along this path long before it was in vogue.”
For his part, Thomlinson says he was galvanized by what Dirty Robber had pulled off with “Breaking2.”
“I wasn’t inspired by where advertising was in the traditional model, but I loved what they were doing with advertising,” he says. “I saw them at this nexus of advertising and entertainment and that inspired me.”
Dirty Robber’s credits also include the Tom Brady series “Tom Vs. Time” for Facebook, the Emmy-nominated “Why We Fight” for Verizon and the Kobe Bryant documentary “Muse” for Showtime.
“Jasper was way above us for years, so we’re almost astounded he joined us,” jokes Roe.
“Well, you did win an Oscar this year,” counters Thomlinson.