Creative Director Debo Delivers The Sugar Factory’s Delicious Designs

Debo
Creative Director Debo

For Deborah Magnan, best known by her mononym, Debo, making a scene is a job requirement. As the creative director for a stunning range of clients, Debo has proven herself invaluable as an unparalleled architect of campaigns the world over. Her entire life has been shaped by the enormous influence exerted by those who held the title of creative director before her. Even as a child growing up in Cannes in the South of France, the power and importance of branding and marketing were apparent all around her.

“It was magical to grow up by the beach in that beautiful city,” Debo said of her upbringing in the legendary home of the Festival de Cannes, “and to be able to get an international vision of entertainment and branding from Cannes Film festival, the MTV parties, and TV and licensing conventions.”

That upbringing, immersed in a world where marketing is king, awakened an early passion within Debo. She saw the ways companies would generate massive buzz through all kinds of innovative marketing tactics, and she knew exactly what she was meant to do.

“I began by making my own events in partnership with Barbapapa, an old kids’ cartoon licence… The events became so big that the brand came back very strong both in the market and on TV, so I got a name for that,” recounted Debo. “Then I opened my first nightclub called the Mini Club. I was in charge of designs, fabrics, lighting, floors, the name and logo, DJs and special guests, marketing and PR, and even smell, I did everything, and it was a hit! I was able to cover all the creative aspects of the business, fulfilling the role of creative director.”

Since then, Debo has sharpened her instincts and expertise to become one of the most potent and innovative creative directors in the industry today. Her relentless determination to carry every one of her clients to the absolute pinnacle of their potential makes her an unrivaled figure within her industry.

Far more than simply marketing, branding, public relations or advertising, Debo possesses an uncanny sense for exactly what will make her clients’ brands trend and explode. It’s a product of the unceasing and unwavering focus she’s always devoted to her clients. Before she ever wet her feet with Barbapapa and Mini Club, Debo has always had a keen and intuitive understanding of each of her clients’ unique needs.

“I’m able to cover concept to design, branding to marketing, merchandising to food, beverage to menu and production to show,” Debo said, explaining the vast array of responsibilities with which she is entrusted. “I have a 360 degree approach that few people have in this field. I’m able to take a brand and make it grow in every direction and dimension — where a lot of other creative directors only focus on one side of the brand: either logo, production, or merchandising.”

As a creative director, Debo’s job is to guide her clients through the complex process of establishing and evolving their brands’ identities. To that end, she is an unrivaled force in the industry. Among her illustrious list of clients is world renowned, Grammy Award winning electronic music pioneer David Guetta. Working closely with Guetta, Debo planned and executed a worldwide tour of parties dubbed “F**k Me I’m Famous” to coincide with Guetta’s album of the same name.

“‘FMIF’ went from a party to an international lifestyle… I did all the merchandising and collection design for more than 1,000 different products. I was in charge of production, packaging, show concepts, prop design, marketing, and branding,” Debo explained. “That meant planning everything from the giant neon door to the lollipops giveaway, outfits, handling the full creative direction of performers, as well as the neon swing, onscreen visuals, merchandising, store design and advertising.”

Among Debo’s most inspired work is the remarkable campaign she designed for the Sugar Factory. A restaurant chain headquartered in Las Vegas, the Sugar Factory has expanded to 30 metropolitan locations in major cities around the globe, including New York, Chicago, San Diego, Dubai and Manila. The Sugar Factory relied heavily on Debo in order to reach that level of worldwide market saturation.

“I was responsible for creative direction, food and beverage concept, and the entertainment concept,” Debo said, describing the wide range of her responsibilities. “I did some branding, such as the Gummy Bear World logo, Foodgod candy box logo… I designed a full museum of candy, 20 rooms full of sweet experiences. I did a lot of food, beverage and entertainment concepts.”

It was Debo who conceived Sugar Factory’s greatest claim to fame, the Rainbow Slider Burger. A favorite of both kids and adults, the Rainbow Slider also proved immensely popular with the celebrities and influencer patrons who love Sugar Factory. The long list of big names who’ve helped make Sugar Factory wildly popular includes Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Drake, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian, Eva Longoria and Rupert Grint.

“The client was looking for a branding signature, and that’s what I did with Rainbow Sliders,” Debo said. “The sliders perfectly match the Sugar Factory logo.”

As it turns out, Sugar Factory was an absolutely perfect client for an innovative creative director like Debo. Most of her peers could only dream of successfully promoted a brand by creating a product that appeals to every age group, in addition to being wildly popular among some of the world’s biggest celebrities. For Debo, Sugar Factory provided the perfect opportunity to express her true talents.

“I love the fact that it’s a family business. They care about every detail of the company and are very open about creativity,” Debo recalled. “Sugar Factory will always give you a chance to test a new recipe.”

No matter who the client, where the venue, or what the brand, Deborah “Debo” Magnan’s innovation and tireless dedication put her miles ahead of her peers in the industry. For clients determined to stand out in the crowded arenas of hospitality and hospitality, there isn’t a shred of doubt that Debo is the best, most driven, and most innovative professional to have in their corner.

 

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Xin Yi helps take us back to the ‘80s with new ‘Rocket League: Radical Summer’ trailer

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Xin Yi

As a renowned 3D Artist, creating stunning visual effects seen by audiences around the world, China’s Xin Yi is incredibly adaptable in her work. She does not have a specific style or trademark, but rather focuses on creating the most stunning imagery she can in whatever style the project demands. She can make visual effects look as realistic as a photograph, blending seamlessly with their surroundings, or a stylized animation that captures the hearts of its viewers.

This outstanding versatility is evident in all of her work, no matter the genre or medium. Whether creating the virtual set for NFL Redzone or modeling, materials, lighting, and some transitions and characters for the World of Warcraft Arena World Championship, Yi focuses on the details to create artistic effects.

Recently, millions around the world saw Yi’s work in the Rocket League: Radical Summer trailer, although they may not know it.

Rocket League is a vehicular video game developed and published by Psyonix. It is like soccer, but with rocket-powered cars and has up to four players assigned to each of the two teams, using rocket-powered vehicles to hit a ball into their opponent’s goal and score points over the course of a match. Released in 2015 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4, with ports for Xbox One, macOS, Linux, and Nintendo Switch being released later on, it is a now iconic game, with its own professional league and a vast worldwide following.

Radical Summer is an extension of the game, a celebration of ’80s movies, television and culture. The extension has new items, game modes, DLC, and more. Available From 6/10 to 8/12 on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

“It is a pretty fun game to play with friends, even though I am not usually a gamer. The Radical Summer pack is super fun and cool as well,” said Yi.

After previous success on the Rocket League: McLaren 570S Car Pack Trailer in late 2018, Yi and her team at the motion graphics design and animation production studioCapacity were once again invited to create captivating cinematics to promote this new development of the game.

Before beginning work on the trailer, Yi did some research on Rocket League to know more about their style and at the same time, she watched movies from the ’80s and listened to music from that time period. Understanding more about the time period was essential in creating an ‘80s appearance and style in her work.

Yi did all of the rigging parts and exported them to let other teammates make an animation out of them and she also helped to animate one of the shots. She worked tirelessly to make the trailer both stunning to watch while matching the game’s style. She also did transition work to make the shot transfer to the next shot smoothly and did a composition for the TVs in the trailer to allow other artists to replace the footage easily.

“It is a really interesting project to work on. It brings us back to the ’80s, the rock music years. The pack is also using many elements from some 80’s culture, television from the decade and blockbusters,” said Yi.

Yi’s work on the rigs, animation, composing, materials, scene transitions, and renderings of this trailer paid off. The trailer was released on Rocket League’s official website and YouTube in June 2019. It received many positive comments and a lot of people were looking forward to playing the newly released pack. It has over 3.6 million views on the official YouTube link so far, and greatly contributed to the Radical Summerpack’s ongoing success.

You can check out the Rocket League: Radical Summer Trailer to see some of Yi’s beautiful 3D artistry.

Renan Pacheco Sheds Light on How He Became a Digitally Influencing Phenomenon

Renan Pacheco
Digital Influencer Renan Pacheco in Mykonos, Greece

As you scroll Instagram, have you ever seen someone beautiful, in an equally breathtaking setting, and wondered how they managed to land hundreds of thousands of followers? These digital influencers indeed have what seems like the best job in the world. By amassing a loyal following, they have the unique position of traveling the world as a digital influencer where their costs are footed by sponsorships from international brands.

Of course, there are millions of exceptionally beautiful faces out there, so what is it specifically that makes a digital influencer stand out? Look no further than Renan Pacheco, a French digital influencer and undeniable heartthrob with thousands of fans across the globe.

I was lucky enough to catch up with this global Instagram sensation to find out what it’s like being a digital influencer, and how he got his start. He is currently nominated for two Monaco Influencer Awards, which will take place in October.

While his insta profile currently boasts nearly 650K followers, Renan was dazzling cameras long before he made his way into his incredibly profitable career as a digital influencer, where he admits that he often earns “a five figure number per post.” Earning a minimum of $20,000 per post is a pretty impressive figure, one that makes it quite obvious that Renan’s reputation for engaging viewers with his creativity is a major profit source for the brands that ask him to come on board as an influencer in their market.

Renan Pacheco for Havaianas Europe

Though he was raised in France, Renan was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil — and you can bet that the combination of his multicultural upbringing and looks work to his benefit as an influencer. Renan was first ushered into the spotlight at the age of 14 when he won a modeling competition.

“A friend of mine sent my Facebook pictures to an online contest and only told me about it when I got selected to attend a catwalk in Paris,” Renan recalls.

“Once I got there, I looked around at the other models that were far more experienced and it seemed like they were feeling no pressure or stress whatsoever. We were all competing for some very valuable prizes and opportunities. It was my first time feeling ‘under pressure’ as a teenager and I’m proud I took it head on… Having 650,000 people seeing every day what I’m doing is something young Renan in that contest with an audience of 100 could probably not fathom!”

That seemingly destined contest win led Renan to land numerous other modeling contracts, at the same time while still a teen in Paris, he went on to make a name for himself as an actor. Back in 2014, he starred in a national commercial for Danone, followed by social media campaigns for Zadig and Voltaire, L’Oréal and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Renan Pacheco with Xenia Adonts at a Jean Paul Gaultier show

Filmmaker Matthieu Khalaf says, “Renan is a ‘one cut’ actor. I rarely ever have to re-shoot something with him or edit things out which is very convenient. Renan is an artist with an engineer-like discipline. He brings creativity as well as punctuality, discipline and work ethic which inevitably compounds to putting him ahead of the pack.”

Over the past few years Renan has played leading roles in films such as “Partons, dans un baiser,” the crime series “Falco,” and the French hit “Nos Chers Voisins,” where he took on a comedy role as the love interest of the lead character. And his ease as an actor and model have definitely lent themselves to his skill as an Instagram influencer.

As Instagram grew so did brand interest in what Renan had to offer. His first contracts were for L’Oréal and French footwear giant Courir.

“I had to post about them on Instagram. Instagram was a very new tool at the time, and my follower count being only in the low 5 figures, the required posts were made as a verbal request,” recalls Renan. “No one thought at the time that there would be written contracts for this one day! My first written contract for an Instagram post was for Kapten & Son, a famous eyewear company.”

For Renan there are undoubtedly perks that include traveling the world, attending posh parties and awards ceremonies, and making a pretty penny for posting on behalf of brands. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to put effort into what he posts. He has a unique understanding and awareness of what his audience wants to see and makes incredible efforts to deliver. On top of that, he has to bring a high level of creativity to the images and stories he posts in order to serve the high-profile brands that support him.

Renan Pacheco for Harley Davidson

In terms of blending media exposure and creativity into his posts, Renan explains, “My pictures must take both criteria into account. ‘Media exposure’ means taking into account what my community wants to see. ‘Creativity’ means including the story the brand wants to tell. Often, the picture is what will satisfy the follower, and the caption is what will satisfy the storytelling.”

While a photo can say a thousand words, Instagram photos still require some catchy and thoughtful captions, and Renan is a pro at coming up with tidbits that will keep his audience engaged.

“I love reading and listening to audiobooks. I take active notes and like to share them as short nuggets of wisdom to complement my pictures. My followers gave such fantastic feedback that I decided to start posting pictures that complement the caption and not the other way around,” admits Renan.

“Approximately 1 out of 5 of my pictures are now about a story, a painting, an artist, a movie etc. It’s challenging but very rewarding and my community has definitely responded with the best feedback.”

On top of creating engaging posts to serve both the brand and the audience, one of the reasons that Renan has developed such a loyal following is the fact that he interacts so consistently with his audience. For most us, responding to countless direct messages and comments from over 650k followers would get exhausting, but Renan admits that is something that he actually enjoys.

Another aspect of Renan’s ability to maintain such a strong following and keep his career moving forward is the fact that he doesn’t just support any old brand that approaches him, for him remaining authentic and supporting brands that he can whole-heartedly get behind have been key.

Renan Pacheco at a Vampped Event in Palm Springs, CA

“If I don’t like the product, service or storytelling, I have to pass regardless of the financial compensation. People have a sixth sense for detecting what is truthful and what isn’t, and particularly now, I I think a big part of my success is always focusing on my follower experience.”

Renan is an avid traveller and brilliant visual storyteller renown in the social media world for his hard working spirit, integrity, and exceptional track record with leading brands. Outside from all the glitz and glamour, he admits that at the end of the day his favorite part of his career as a digital influencer is, “Meeting different people from all walks of life have been the most rewarding moments across my travels. Their stories, their lessons and most often their pains have been the building blocks for my life since college and I don’t think any other experience could be a substitute to that.”

“The Way We Get By” Star Francesca Ravera Prepares for NYC Premiere of “Espresso”

Francesca Ravera
Italian Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Mario Buscaglia

Italian actress Francesca Ravera, who has made a huge mark for herself in the U.S. film and theater industry over the past few years, recently brought her talents back to her home country where she wowed audiences with her lead role as Beth in the acclaimed production of “The Way We Get By.” 

After a hugely successful run at the Urban Stages Theater in New York earlier this year, “The Way We Get By” embarked on an Italian summer tour with performances in Milan, Turin and Genoa. 

Written by American playwright Neil LaBute and directed by Kim T. Sharp, “The Way We Get By” revolves around Beth, played by Ravera,and Doug, two young attractive singles who meet at a drunken wedding reception and end up having sex at the apartment Beth shares with her control freak roommate. However, the intimacy that commences between the two is far from organic, and the underlying root of that is one of the main complexities of the story that makes it so intriguing. 

“Beth is a sweet and sensitive girl who has been hurt by fleeting flings with boys who only wanted her for her body. Used to being seen as an object or a trophy, Beth tries to connect with Doug the only way she knows how- through seduction,” explains Ravera. 

“I enjoyed exploring her needs, her desire to connect with Doug and be free to love him. I dug into her dreams, fears and contradictions.” 

After waking Beth up with his insomniac fidgeting, Doug deflects her sexual advances and she reveals that they share a surprising bond from the past. Beyond this startling discovery, we also learn that Beth is dealing, or in the moment, not dealing, with a riddled sexual history where, having been previously objectified by men, she’s learned to rely upon her sexuality as her only way to connect.

“The role [of Beth] called for an actor who could commit to the moment while still having a complicated, conflicting history she needed to access as the action shifted,” explains director Kim T. Sharp. 

A sexy and fast-paced rom com about love, lust and life, there’s no doubt about it, Francesca Ravera was the perfect actress to play the starring role of Beth in the production.

“It was fabulous to see [Francesca] unlock one moment after another as she found the foundation of Beth. When the action shifted and Beth was faced with her past it was both surprising and, yet, understandable. Francesca brought Beth’s two worlds together in a richly satisfying way.”

Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Giada Lefebvre

“The Way We Get By” depended heavily on Ravera, and her performances in both Italy and the U.S. did not disappoint.

“In addition to her talent and commitment, she possessed a presence on stage. ‘Presence’ is an elusive quality that keeps the audience engaged even when the actor is not talking, moving or doing business; the audience is simply drawn to the character,” says Sharp. 

“In my experience as a director, it is a rare and intriguing quality that even very talented actors don’t have access to. Francesca’s presence was an essential part of the success of the project.”

For Ravera, who moved to the States a few years ago, where she has little expectations other than to complete her training and become a better actor, coming back to Italy with the production of “The Way We Get By,” which was performed in English, is like coming full circle.

“When I moved to New York I was focusing on what I had to give and offer, as a person, and as an actor. Little did I know back then that so many offers would come my way here in the U.S.,” admits Francesca. “‘I began feeling, every day, overwhelming gratitude, which translated into an urge to give even more. It was about then that this amazing opportunity opportunity came my way, and I was able to bring my work, and the work of an incredible American Playwright, to Europe, and perform it in its original language.”

In addition to illustrious list of powerful theatrical performances, Ravera has been praised internationally for her film work. She recently took home numerous Awards for Best Actress from the Oniros Film Awards, Care Awards, the Diamond Film Awards, Best Actor Award, Milestone Worldwide Film Festival, Mindfield Film Festival Albuquerque, Five Continents International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Awards for her titular role in the dramatic film Claire. 

Actress Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Claudio Catania

Directed by Andrea Silvestro and produced by Adrama, which  Ravera previously worked with on the film Ulysses: A Dark Odyssey, where she shared the screen with four-time Primetime Emmy nominee Danny Glover, Claire tells the story of a young woman who is trying to hold on to a failing relationship despite knowing deep down that her fiance no longer loves her.

Claire screened in July at the at the Venus Italian Film Festival in Las Vegas, where Ravera took home yet another Award for Best Actress, as well as the at the Chain Film Festival last month. 

Up next for the actress is the production of Canadian playwright Lucia Frangione’s “Espresso,” which is slated to run in New York in 2020. 

Earlier this month “Espresso” had its first NYC premiere via a staged reading at Urban Stages Theatre in NYC directed by Kim T. Sharp, who directed Ravera in “The Way We Get By,” where it earned powerful and positive reviews. 

UK media outlet The 730 Review writes, “Clever banter and meticulous metaphors abound in Ms. Frangione’s bold and brilliant script, yet no word ever feels misplaced, forced, or indulgently included for the sake of ostentatiousness. The actors confidently give convincing performances, no matter the role they are playing in any given moment.”

Francesca Ravera
Jesse Koehler & Francesca Ravera in the Staged Reading of “Espresso” by ACV Photography

“Espresso” revolves largely around Ravera’s character Rosa Dolores, a first generation Canadian, and her Italian family. In fact, Ravera takes on three pivotal and starkly different roles in the production, the first as Rosa, the co-narrator of the story and the daughter of the now hospitalized patriarch Vito, her grandmother Nonna, and her stepmother Cinzella. 

Ravera says, “This story is inspired by the playwright’s life, and I could feel this. ‘Espresso’ is a generous and beautifully written gift, filled with humanity and passion. It makes you laugh, and cry, and ache and think, and hope. It’s a blessing for me to have been cast in it.”

Ravera plays opposite Jesse Koehler, who interchangeably takes on the roles of Vito, Jesus and Amante, who serves as both the Holy Spirit and a symbol of Eros.

A passionate story about family values, religion, oppression and transformation centered around three women very different women in need of deep healing, “Espresso” is definitely one production theatre goers won’t want to miss. 

 

Composer Weijun Chen dances away with audiences’ hearts in Aspen

The moment Weijun Chen puts his pencil to a piece of staff paper, he allows inspiration to overtake him. From the outside, watching him sketch notes onto a piece of paper, it may not seem like the most glamorous job, but when an orchestra is performing his music that he spent so long crafting, he feels truly alive.

Chen is a classical composer, writing music for symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, instrumentalists, and singers, which is then performed at grand concert halls and music festivals all over the world. He is a renowned composer, best known for Three Earlier Songs, Watercolors, and Canoe, to name a few.

“I write every single note on the page, from vague ideas, sketches, to complete scores. In terms of the writing process itself, I am quite old-fashioned. I always start with pencil and staff paper, and eventually move to the computer during the engraving and mock-up stages. Once the piece is finished, I work closely with the musicians to bring the music to life. Often times, some of my works were written for a specific soloist or group of musicians, so the collaboration process starts during the writing stage. I also enjoy collaborating with artists from other disciplines, as my music often draws influence from poetry and visual arts,” said Chen.

Chen has seen much success throughout his career, but he believes the highlight came when he wrote the orchestral version of his piece Dancer. Already a success as a chamber piece, Chen decided to rework Dancer for an orchestra after being awarded the Jacob Druckman Prize by the Aspen Music Festival in 2015 with an invitation to the 2016 festival to premiere new work.

“I believe that writing for orchestra is a composer’s highest calling, and there is no better feeling than hearing your music performed by a large orchestra at a premier classical music festival in the beautiful mountains of Colorado,” said Chen.

Despite the title’s implications of continual movement and activity, Danceropens with somber stillness, a single chord that then gradually collapses under slowly descending scalar lines. As the glacial motion rises again through chromatic dissonances, gentle clusters form periodically, producing alternating moments of tension and relaxation. Then, after building in intensity, scale fragments and rapid turn figures cascade through the orchestra, initiating the swirling, dancing central section. This culminates in a growling climax and a grand pause, leading into the concluding slow section.

“When I was drafting this final slow section in February 2016, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of American composer Steven Stucky’s passing. Stucky was the director of composition at the Aspen Music Festival where this piece later received its premiere. The last section unmistakably became an elegy, in memory of my beloved mentor,” said Chen.

Chen decided to create an orchestral version of Dancer after the success of the original chamber piece for several reasons. Musically, when he was working on the chamber version, he realized that the intended soundscape, in particular the overlapping scale lines, would have great potential written for an orchestra. When the opportunity arrived from the Aspen Music Festival in 2016, he jumped on it immediately.

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2016 Aspen Music Festival
Bowing after the premiere of Dancer
W/ Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra & conductor George Jackson

The orchestral version of Dancer is both an expansion and a reduction. By expansion, the ensemble got bigger by ten-fold, and Chen was able to fully take advantage of the color palate of an orchestra. Dovetailing techniques are used extensively in the piece, as Chen threads the scale materials across the entire orchestra. By reduction, he deleted a large portion of music from the chamber version, specifically the Spanish-dance-influenced melodic section, as he felt that the materials were out of focus and not as compelling.

“It was simply amazing to see how my music came alive in the hands of seventy incredibly talented young orchestral musicians, under the baton of Maestro Jackson. It was also immensely gratifying to hear the transformative improvements from one rehearsal to another, and the premiere performance was deeply moving,” said Chen.

After its premiere at the 2016 Aspen Music Festival, the performance received a brief mention in The Aspen Times. The reviewer, Harvey Steiman, stated that “Dancer explored resonant harmonies and sonorities and reflected fine command of orchestration and form.” The piece was also a finalist in the 2017-18 The American Prize in Composition, Orchestra Music.

“I felt extremely grateful. As composers, we completely rely on others (i.e., the musicians) to bring our wildest imaginations to life. It is even more true in an orchestral setting, simply due to the sheer number of players and moving parts. This piece would not exist without the support and dedication from the music festival, Maestro Jackson, and the amazing musicians of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Chen.

On top of its success, Dancer has deep meaning for Chen. The greatest reward, for the composer, was honoring his mentor and friend.

“It was impossible not to think of Steve when I was at the premiere in Aspen. I was honored to share this piece with many of his colleagues, friends, and students in the audience. I miss him dearly, and I hope that the success of the premiere would make him proud,” he concluded.

 

Cover photo by Ahron Cho