2 Minutes With ... Chen Federing, VP of Creative at Debby & Ron
Chen Federing has held positions such as vice president of creative at Debby & Ron, creative director at McCann Tech, and copywriter for Gitam BBDO and Leo Burnett. Chen has won numerous industry prizes, including a Silver Clio in the Social Good category for Peace Naturals' "Firewarks" last year, along with honors for other work at the Cannes Lions Festival and CMA Awards.
We spent two minutes with Chen to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.
Chen, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now?
I grew up in a small town in Israel called Pardesiya where everyone knew each other's business. Nowadays, I live with my wife and two adorable kids in Ramat Gan, which is a city adjacent to Tel Aviv.
How you first got interested in cannabis?
I'll be honest, like many people, I was first intrigued by cannabis for its recreational use. However, as I grew older and gained more knowledge, I began to see its potential as a medicinal aid. Seeing the people around me use it for its therapeutic properties made me more curious, and I started to research it further. When I joined Debby & Ron and met Rony Katz Amichai, the CMO of Peace Naturals Israel, I discovered the extensive benefits of cannabis that I had never considered before. Working with a client who truly believes in the power of creative and its ability to improve the lives of patients is a tremendous opportunity, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it.
One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on, and why.
One of my all-time favorite projects that I've worked on is the "Firewarks" campaign for Peace Naturals and the Fighters for Life Association. I'll explain why this campaign stands out to me as my favorite, but first I'll have to explain my personal perspective on the advertising world, and it's going to be a bit cheesy. So please try to hold back your cynicism for a few minutes.
I believe that we are fortunate to have the ability to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of people through our work. Whether it's through witty copy on a banner, an eye-catching billboard, a disruptive TV ad or any other media platform, we have the power to make an impact. Although not all of our work can or should be "life-changing," our job is to use our creative abilities to identify opportunities where we can make a meaningful difference. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to work on pro-bono campaigns and other initiatives that aim to do good in the world, and "Firewarks" holds a special place in my heart (and portfolio).
It changed the way Israelis celebrate Independence Day forever. Prior to the campaign, the country celebrated the day with loud fireworks that caused veterans with PTSD to hide in their homes instead of taking part in the festivities. However, this year, a year after the campaign, I was moved when my three-year-old and I went out to the balcony and saw the fireworks show, which was completely silent. In that moment, I knew that many Israelis did the same without the fear of having a PTSD attack. This campaign had a significant and long-lasting impact, and that's why it will always be one of my favorite projects.
A recent project you're proud of, and why.
It all starts with our strategic agenda at Peace Naturals, which focuses on putting patients at the center of everything we do. This year, we had the honor of working with the Fighters for Life Association once again, and our aim was to raise awareness about the struggles that veterans with PTSD face when trying to get recognized by the state. It's a sad reality that they have to go through tons of bureaucracy, spend countless hours and money on lawyers and still hope that they will be approved as a person suffering from PTSD. And the reason why this recognition is so crucial for them is not just for the financial benefits, but mainly for their peace of mind. They need to know that their symptoms are real, and that they are not alone. Now, imagine this reality for someone who doesn't have the time, energy, money or support to go through all of this by themselves. It's heart-wrenching.
That's why we partnered with Fighters for Life to create a TV ad that looks like a typical promo for a new reality show, but with a powerful twist. We wanted to punch viewers in the gut with the hardcore truth—this is not a new reality show, it's the harsh reality that veterans with PTSD face every day. And we hope that by raising awareness about this issue, we can make a difference and help those who need it most.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today, and how to approach it.
The biggest challenge that cannabis marketers face today is the strict regulations on advertising medical cannabis in Israel, where recreational use of cannabis is illegal. As a result, marketers tend to work in secret groups on social media or engage in questionable tactics. However, we overcome this challenge by focusing on the patients and promoting causes that are important to our target audience. By doing good, we can advertise the brand without directly promoting the product.
One thing about how the cannabis industry is evolving that you're excited about.
The new generation of patients is knowledgeable about cannabis, which has prompted brands to maintain high standards of product quality. Additionally, these patients often participate in various social media groups where they offer critiques and recommendations regarding different types of cannabis. As a result, I believe that both trends will ultimately benefit the industry, leading to even better products and services for patients.
Someone else's work, in cannabis or beyond, that you admired lately.
I must say, I absolutely love the way Fatty's Pre-Rolls handles their Instagram account. They manage to showcase their products in a fun and playful manner. I can scroll there forever.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
The book No Rules Rules has significantly altered my perspective on managing people. It's incredible how a few unconventional strategies and practices can make such a big difference in the workplace.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Your favorite fictional character.
Someone worth following in social media.
Your main strength as a marketer/creative.
I try to maintain a sense of naivety and optimism regarding the success of seemingly unrealistic ideas, even though 99 percent of the time they don't come to fruition. Despite the low success rate, I believe that having a positive attitude and a willingness to take risks is important for personal growth and development. It's the small chance that an idea might actually succeed that makes it all worth it in the end.
Your biggest weakness.
If you were to ask anyone who knows me well, they would likely say that my biggest weakness is my memory. I've learned to compensate for this weakness by utilizing various tools and techniques to help me stay organized and on top of my responsibilities
Something people would find surprising about you.
When I was younger, my dream was to become a diamond broker.
One thing that always makes you happy.
While it may sound cliché, the one thing that never fails to make me happy is returning home to my kids. Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their laughter is truly the highlight of my day. No matter what kind of day I've had, spending time with my wife and children always brings me joy and reminds me of what truly matters in life.
One thing that always makes you sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren’t in the cannabis industry.
While I do have other clients outside of the industry, there's no denying that working with our medical cannabis client is incredibly important, interesting and fulfilling. It's been a pleasure to work on projects that have the potential to make a real difference in people's lives.