UVC 10 14 23 by Elliot Mandel 42

Celebrating Eric Ashworth and Quad’s Impact on Red Jacket Optional

Red Jacket Optional honoree and Uniting Voices board member Eric Ashworth has made an indelible mark on the organization and its public perception. Ashworth is President of Agency Solutions and Executive Vice President of Product and Market Strategy at Quad, a marketing experience company that through its creative agency Periscope donated 18 months of services to explore, inform, and implement our evolution from Chicago Children’s Choir to Uniting Voices, an energetic and expansive brand aligned with the organization’s mission.

Prior to the gala, we caught up with Eric to talk about the shared values of Uniting Voices and Quad, smart creativity and why Quad has supported Red Jacket Optional for eight years!

Uniting Voices: What draws you/Quad towards Uniting Voices? What about its work drives Quad's commitment to supporting our impact? 

Eric Ashworth: I was drawn to Uniting Voices because of its mission to inspire and change lives through the power of music. Having lived in large cities my entire life, I appreciate organizations like Uniting Voices that create opportunities and access to programs that help build young leaders. Quad believes that collaboration and investment can lead to transformative change. Core to our belief is investing in communities while ensuring the voices and needs of those communities are heard. In short, making a difference in our own backyard parallels Uniting Voices’ values in serving every zip code in Chicago.

UV: Why does Quad support Uniting Voices' impact through our annual gala,  Red Jacket Optional, specifically?

EA: RJO is the culmination of the talent and creativity that Uniting Voices is capable of bringing forward. The organization’s ability to bring children and young adults from diverse backgrounds together through the love of, and commitment to, music and create a Broadway-caliber production is simply wonderful and I never get tired of attending. My first introduction to Uniting Voices (then the Chicago Children’s Choir) was through an RJO event. Eight years later, I haven’t missed a single one. Quad’s digital marketing agency, Rise Interactive, is headquartered right here in Chicago, so we have a strong presence in the community. We care deeply about this city and the community, and we don’t take for granted the opportunity to invest in the next generation of open-minded, artful leaders.  

UV: Quad /Periscope played a pivotal role in Uniting Voices' recent transformative rebranding/renaming campaign. What effect did doing this work have on the team at Quad /Periscope? 

EA: This type of work really sits at the core of why people enter careers in advertising and marketing. Our creative agency, Periscope, has a team of talented professionals who consistently help some pretty well known consumer brands achieve their branding goals. We brought Periscope’s deep expertise to Uniting Voices, which was a great way to tap into the team’s personal passions. The opportunity to better position, communicate and grow the brand for such an inspiring organization is the type of work our team at Periscope aspires to do. And, they’re really good at it, so there’s that.

We’re honored to have played a role in advancing the brand of this beloved engine for social change. And, we believe our team also benefited through the process.  

UV: Why is mission-focused work like our renaming campaign not only valuable from a CSR point of view, but also as an unparalleled opportunity to drive compelling creative /strategy? What is so special about an experience like this?

EA: We know that there is so much work to do to create a more just, equitable and inclusive society. For our part, Quad has doubled down on our long standing commitment to create a better way to drive positive change – both in our business and the world we share. So, the opportunity to refresh Uniting Voices’ brand to be more aligned with the choir’s important mission, felt like a perfect way for us to contribute.

This renaming campaign allowed Quad’s creative experts to really own what we see as our civic responsibility. And even more importantly, it has been a great way for us to attract, retain and engage some of our best talent, while also advancing our team’s creative development. We were able to get creative on concepts and execution without relying on big budgets. One of the best added benefits was getting to know and work with Uniting Voices’ team of stellar professionals. We’ve created even stronger relationships with a powerhouse organization in Chicago – one that we all value and look forward to continuing.

UV: What does it mean to you to be recognized for your contributions to Uniting Voices' success at Red Jacket Optional? 

EA: It’s a huge honor, and I was, quite frankly, surprised to be recognized in this way. Having attended RJO for the past eight years, each honoree has been someone who I greatly respect and admire. So, it’s pretty humbling to be named in the same category of people that have had such a significant impact on the organization.

UV: One obvious alignment between Uniting Voices and Quad is a commitment to creativity and its impact on society. Why is this something that every organization should care about? 

EA: Smart creativity – the type that differentiates and creates impact – can be expressed in many forms. Quad’s company culture is one that understands the power of creativity, especially creativity inspired by diverse voices coming together. It’s essential to our growth strategy. The last few years have taught us that the world is a changing place. Any organization that wants to remain competitive in a shifting landscape must be willing to think differently, ensure all voices matter and recognize the way to adapt to change is to celebrate our differences. We love seeing work like this with Uniting Voices, come together with excellence. It never gets tired, which is why I love being involved with the organization. We strive to have our clients at Quad and Periscope feel the same way.