How did you get started in advertising? What’s been your career road map?
Jay and I both started out as Graphic Designers. When we first met, Jay was working for Disney as a Flash Developer and I was doing freelance Graphic Design. He introduced me to Flash, and like him, I became captivated by the possibilities. We started sharing creative ideas and working together to learn and create personal projects.
It sort of snowballed from there. We started doing small web projects and then one day we sort of decided to form a company together and go after more work. So we did, and started going after Entertainment work. This was when every film and DVD release had a microsite. We were just exploding with creativity building highly interactive web projects, games, you name it.
Then one day, a colleague at Fox Home Entertainment asked us if we could also do display ads for a movie site and we thought, "OK, can’t be that different". That experience got us excited about display ads and digital advertising. It was sort of a natural progression from there as streaming services came online and the whole movie industry shifted. We really didn’t look back from there.
We still do web development, apps, and quite a bit of design, but we really feel now that digital advertising is what drives us and is in our DNA now. It’s been a long and enjoyable arc.
What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
There are two that are intertwined. Work with people you like and people that drive and inspire you. We’ve found that they really go hand in hand. Negative energy doesn’t just hurt your life and wellbeing, it can also really hurt the work. And even if it doesn’t seem like the work is suffering, it can always be better with teams and people that are enjoying working together and everybody, and the work, gets a lift.
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?
Jay and I are both motivated by this sentence: You can always get better. Creatively, it’s freeing, and as a digital agency, it keeps us always excited about what’s next, whether its technology, creativity, business structure, or whatever. We always want what’s next.
I don’t know about a personal motto, but Jay and I also share the idea that no matter how you might feel in a moment, day, or week, if you put out more positive energy than you think you have to the people around you, it always comes back like a tsunami. So you may feel like you just don’t have it one day, but you’ll have more if you give more.
What excites you most about this industry?
I guess similar to how an actor must feel in playing many different roles. With different projects we end up learning about different industries that we wouldn’t normally seek out, whether its automotive, travel, consumer goods, whatever. Always something new and different.
Where is advertising headed? What do the next five years look like?
I know so many people way smarter than me who can answer this so much better. I will say that five years ago, the industry looked much different, we’ve seen the AOR model lose favor, and then come back a bit, and maybe that will keep waving. We will see VR and AR become more and more ubiquitous as the barrier between technology and user experience gets thinner. And probably 50 things I can’t think of. But what will be the same as it always has been is that it is always about relationships: client to agency, creative to creative, creative to account, agency to vendor, and so on. Build strong and trusted relationships and then whatever changes, you can change right along with it.
What advice do you have for [male or female] ad professionals who are beginning their careers?
Really know what part of the industry you want to be in. Are you more tech-minded? Do you love working with the client? Do you love the creative? And then within those, what exactly do you love about it? Really define what your interest is, and how it interleaves with your innate skills.
Why you decided to join ThinkLA?
There is an aspect of what Think LA does that is this huge extension of mentorship, which we love on a much more personal and smaller scale. There is a giving back to an industry that has given us so much, too. And there’s usually something for everyone with all of their events.
What’s been one of your favorite ThinkLA memories?
Ad Jam, definitely. We partnered with ThinkLA one year to do all of the graphics for the event, which was awesome. Great partners. And then, of course, the event; it’s a really fun evening.
Jeffrey Blyseth and Jay Popeski are Founders of Axis Studios.