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The Revisionists: Meet Tom Flanagan @ Big Block


TV[R]EV is starting a new series The Revisionists: looking at the minds that shape the world we see- TV veterans, agency leaders, innovators in content. And for our first edition, we bring you questions with someone who is a mix of all three.

The Set Up

Tom is the kind of guy that couldn’t just produce TV,  or get endorsement deals for stars- he had to help spin out IP- record labels, apparel, and multi-city concert tours.

He couldn’t just take a normal branded entertainment job, he had to open the first office for Leo Burnett in NYC in 70 years. Instead of leaning on LB’s global street cred, he celebrated all that is great about NYC with the ideas and voices of people in New York Writes Itself. (something I had a chance to work on). It won fancy awards.  As did his work helping Crocs admit it makes ugly shoes.

Tom is one of the guys that hasn’t just been talking about branded entertainment for decades, he has been making it.

Image result for ny writes itselfSo, no one who knew him was surprised to get a note that he started a beer company because he was tired of the pretentious culture developing around craft beer. In true Flanagan form, it’s called Dive Bar Beer.

Anyway, you get the point. He is a guy with so many funny stories and interesting anecdotes that this quick format will never do it justice. 

Everyone is in Content These Days: A Q&A With Tom Flanagan


What inspires you?

I’m inspired by all kinds of people. I am especially inspired by people that make things. Inventors, artists, start-up founders, musicians, craftsmen, you name it. Travel also inspires me. And beer.

What are you doing now?

I recently became Chief Content and Innovation Officer for a great company called Big Block. We are a collection of very entrepreneurial creative services, entertainment, and new ventures companies with offices in Los Angeles and New York. It’s a great place to put my background in advertising, entertainment, tech, and production to work.

What’s the biggest change you’re focused on?

I love change of all kinds. I feel like we are often slowed down by a sea of companies struggling to find their way in a world much different than the one they were born into. I’m focused on getting people and clients to understand that sometimes we really just need to rip off the rear view mirrors, roll up our sleeves, take risks, move fast, and just make things happen – all without silos, layers of management, global offices, and unnecessary processes. Those big old companies that clients used to hire because they were a “safe choice” are no longer safe.

Where is the puck going?

From a content standpoint, I predict that increasingly we will see budgets bundle both production and media costs. The days of having an advertising agency, production company and media agency will hopefully soon be over. Great people from each of those industries will start to align and form very focused content-centric companies. We will deliver great content with a media buy and plan baked into it. Bundle it all up and get it to the right audience. Boom.

What are you revising?

I like to think that I’m revising narrow minded thinking. For example, it seems like everyone is in the “content” business these days. It makes sense because there are more ways than ever for people to consume content – all those channels and platforms need to be serviced. And anyone can make content. But none of that content matters if it doesn’t find its way to the right audience. It drives me crazy that people think making great content is enough, they rarely talk about the value of great promotion.

What the fuck?

Frontier Airlines. It used to be a great company, even innovative. But now, if you are sitting past row number four, the tray tables are only big enough to hold your iPhone. And this pisses me off because there is plenty of room from a design standpoint to put a full size tray on the back of those seats. It’s like they punish you for not upgrading your seat to rows 1-4. You punish me for my business? I really want to know who the ass hat is that designed those trays. Seriously, I want a name.

Funny Story….

I’ve had such an odd life, so I have lots. I lived in the Upper West Side in NYC for years, right across the street from Yoko Ono. But I never once saw Yoko. Anyway, years ago I flew to Iceland for a client’s wedding (Bam Margera from Jackass). I get to the hotel and can’t sleep, so I sneak up to the top floor where the VIP lounge is. It’s completely empty. I sit down on a couch and pick up a magazine and start reading. As I’m doing that I sense someone come into the room. Then they sit right next to me on the couch. I look up and yep it’s Yoko Ono. And she did not seem pleased to see me. She literally lived across the street from me but I had to travel to Iceland to meet her. I always preferred the Stones over The Beatles anyway.  


Follow Tom on Linkedin or on Twitter @BigBlockMedia.