VaynerMedia names McCann studio exec Aaron Kovan its first chief production officer

Aaron Kovan joined VaynerMedia as its first chief production officer. / VaynerMedia

VaynerMedia has announced the hiring of Aaron Kovan, former executive vice president and head of integrated production at McCann Worldgroup, as its first-ever chief production officer.

Kovan left his post after four years in charge of McCann’s m:united production practice, and had spent time in production roles at GSD&M and Crispin Porter and Bogusky. As VaynerMedia’s chief production officer, Aaron has oversight over production there, as well as its studio, VaynerProductions.

Vayner’s new production head said the ability to learn best practices and to ‘disrupt’ from his past agencies have fueled his mindset going into his new role.

He said: “I want to create purpose-driven work that gets consumers’ attention. I came from agencies that had really strong synergy between departments, and VaynerMedia also has that. Gary [Vaynerchuk] has invested in smart and experienced people. I’ve worked with those types of people my whole career, and I like to be surrounded by good work.”

When asked what defines standout work, in an industry that has relied on premium social and mobile content as much as television and print, Kovan said it takes a mix of production, novel use of emerging platforms, tech and storytelling.

He added: “I want to elevate the execution of how we're making content. It needs to look great and the storytelling needs to be on point. And when it comes how to create and produce for platforms, VaynerMedia knows it best. We're able to tell stories on platforms or places that people are paying attention to."

Kovan started on May 14th, taking in the two Vayner facilities in Hudson Yards in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens. He noted the synergy between the agencies disciplines, especially amongst the creatives and production teams, where he said: “It’s a pretty cyclical role because I have to make sure that the studio and the talent here, whether it's producers, our in-house directors, production managers, line producers operate at a high level, and are smart and able enough to make great work, hire the right crews and shoot the work.”

Kovan's hire marked the second appointment of a c-suite exec by the independently-owned agency. Earlier this year, Vayner added Andrea Sullivan as its chief client officer, ending her 16-year tenure at Omnicom brand consultancy Interbrand.

Kovan credits Vayner's pulling together of media and real-time analytics capabilities as a differentiator from his previous experiences. “It’s something that I haven’t been able to do at the bigger holding companies."

He added: “People here seem to be nimble and flexible. There's almost an extensive organized chaos that fosters better work. And there's this sort of brazen attitude here, that we're just going out and making things, testing them and remaking them really quickly, then putting it back up there and moving onto the next thing. I just feel like there's something fresh and modern about that.”

Kovan credited the mentorship of BBDO New York director of integrated production Dave Rolfe for helping him develop his mindset. “The cool thing about a producer is everyone kind of does it a little differently. There's definitely a wrong way and a right way to do things in the right way. You can kind of craft your own artistry out of it, and Rolfe really taught me that. He inspired me to have my own style, and I’d like to think it’s gotten me to where I am today.”

The maturation of social media, the increasing pivot to video, and the rise of social and digital-first agencies have forced producers to execute richer, more premium content at a rapid pace. Kovan sees the future of the production role as client-predicated.

“Clients want to do things faster, with more value and still look as good and pretty," he said.

“There's just something about Vayner,” he added, “that is just entrepreneurial. I feel like there’s a ‘fuck everyone else’ sort of attitude here, and I personally liked that. I think it's cool. It’s a pretty fresh way where my career could go and I just wanted to take the opportunity, try it out and see where it goes.”

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