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Lisa Tanner, SVP, Group Account Director, RPA

Posted By ThinkLA, Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I actually lucked into the business! I didn’t really know much about advertising or the different departments, and I had a friend of a friend who worked at GSD&M in Austin TX, which is where I moved after I graduated college in Boulder, CO. I accepted an unpaid internship in account management at the agency, and a few weeks in someone unexpectedly quit and they needed someone right away. No better description of “being in the right place at the right time”! From there, I have worked in both account management and new business and both suit my personality. I’ve worked for mostly big agencies in my career on brands like Land Rover, AT&T, GM, DIRECTV, US Olympic Committee, YMCA, Marriott, and AmEx, to name a few. I currently run the Farmers Insurance account, so I certainly can say I lucked into the right department… and career!

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

Don’t compare yourself to others.
That’s probably what I think about most now that I am more senior in my career. It was a hard and long lesson to learn, and I try to teach that to people around me often. We are all on our own career path, and sometimes things don’t happen the same way for everyone; and that’s okay. Trusting you are on your own, right path allows you to learn so much more about yourself, your workstyle, the industry, your clients.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

What keeps me motivated is continuing to be challenged on a daily basis: challenged by my peers, by growing my awesome team, by constantly being hungry to learn more about advertising, what makes great creative work, consumer behavior, media consumption, etc. When I ever stop being challenged or rewarded at the end of each day is when I need to start looking for a new job. I’ve been doing it a while and that hasn’t happened too many times! It’s also not too bad to win a few awards and have your ad campaign become part of pop culture.

What excites you most about this industry?

Where to begin? It’s exciting to see how the agency model has shifted since I started my career and learn how best I can adapt to it and still be current. It’s exciting to see ideas that don’t cost a lot or have to air during the Super Bowl to get traction and acclaim, like Fearless Girl. It’s exciting that the discussion about woman executive leaders is finally happening and that I am in a position to participate and hopefully make a difference. It’s exciting to see what impact advertising really can and does have on our client’s business in real time based on analytics and technology. It’s an exciting time for this . industry, and I am happy to be along for the ride.

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

It’s a complex question and one I think we will all be surprised to watch. TV is not going away, Super Bowl TV ads won’t be the end-all be-all, and we will continue to be geo-targeted for all the habits we exhibit online or things we say to one another. Clients will look to their agencies more as partners and less as vendors, and the full-service agency models will have to turn a corner to be more nimble and cost-effective as content continues to be king. Having everything in one office seems to be the way things are leaning again, which makes such a big difference to get great work and efficiencies all in one place.

What advice do you have for female ad professionals who are beginning their careers?

Have a voice early in your career and establish yourself as a leader and someone who deserves a seat at the table. Know what you are worth and ask for it. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

What’s been one of your favorite ThinkLA memories?

The first year I started with ThinkLA, I taught an Account Management 101 class and it was so rewarding to feel like I was making a difference to someone starting out in their career. The feedback I got was so positive, it only confirmed that mentoring and helping people around me grow, learn, and move up is one of the best things about my job. But I’m not gonna lie: the Award Show Gala after-parties never disappoint!

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

For L.A. to continue the momentum we have as a creative hub of the world, we need to keep taking it to the next level and pushing the envelope. There is so much talent and energy in the community right now; I want to make sure people participate and have a voice in keeping us at the top of the game.

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Lisa Tanner is SVP, Group Account Director at RPA and serves on the ThinkLA IDEA Council.

Tags:  #thinkmembers  Ad Club  Advanced TV  Idea  LA advertising  samsung ads  think members  thinkla idea council 

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Kyle Carpenter, Senior Sales Executive at Samsung Ads

Posted By Don Lupo, Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

It’s almost as if I was drawn to digital advertising before I ever knew that it was a possible career path. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to spend a week shadowing Colin Drummond at AKQA in San Francisco. It was my first exposure to agency life, and while I wasn’t thinking about the future at the time, it planted a seed that grew years later.

Flash forward eight years, I’m working at NBCUniversal, in a job without growth, and looking to find a career path. A friend (Travis Volk) invited me to a couple of ThinkLA events, and I was hooked. While I didn’t know what anyone did, I knew these were the people I wanted to work with. It was “SnowJam” that sealed the deal. I can’t think of a better way to recruit young/eager minds than a weekend trip to Mammoth that passes as “work”.

I was fortunate enough to fall in with a group of people who were willing to mentor me through the process and help me find my first job in digital ad sales. A year later, I had a sales role at a mobile start-up and was on my way to Mammoth for “SnowJam” (#lifegoals). Since joining the industry, I’ve grown alongside the shifting consumer behavior. I was selling mobile (ChaCha) before the application won the war against mobile web. Then I joined a leading network (Conversant) to learn the power of audience buy and pivot tables. There are few things more calming then a good pivot table.

With the rise of programmatic and the increasing demand for video, I made my way to a video DSP (BrightRoll) to learn how to apply data to the ever-elusive branding goals. A little industry reshuffle (BrightRoll gets acquired by Yahoo… Yahoo gets acquired by Verizon), and I knew it was time to follow the consumer once again. Now focusing on Advanced TV at Samsung, the same things that initially drew me to digital advertising stand true.

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

The most important lessons I’ve learned in my career are to never to stop learning and that everything is easier with friends. I wouldn’t have made it this far without mentors to guide me along the way. I’ve been fortunate to have some fantastic managers that showed me tangible and intangible skills about advertising, people, and life. I guess I would call it networking now, but early in my career I was just making friends. The positive relationships I’ve built along the way make the hard days bearable, the struggle manageable and reminds me that failure is human. I’ve learned the importance of cultivating positive relationships at every opportunity and in many cases, the ability to work with others is more important than the work we do.


What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I believe that energy comes from energy and the energy you put in comes back with interest. If I can convince myself to wake up early and jump into the freezing ocean to surf, everything else seems more relaxed in comparison. While I have to put in a tremendous amount of energy to get myself going, the energy comes back in spades. I find that to be true in all areas of life, whether it’s a hobby, task, challenge, or relationship.

 

What excites you most about this industry?

Finding the connection between technology and emotion is what excites me the most about our industry. It tickles both sides of my brain in fun ways. I get to understand how to use technology to facilitate a conversation between a brand and its customers. No matter how deep the ad tech rabbit hole goes, the human element is at its core. We can leverage predictive algorithms and attention-grabbing placement, but decisions will always be the customers. 

I imagine crawling into the customers' mind to experience a campaign through their eyes to see how it feels: is there enough context to grasp its message, is it annoying, or helpful? I try to take a step back to see the whole picture from brands objective to the emotional state of a consumer and then connect the two. Maybe it’s all part of being a middle child that wants help translate one sibling’s intentions in a way the other can understand.  

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

 Advertising is a facilitated dialog between a brand and their customers. I believe the tools we use to mediate the conversations will allow for more productive interactions with less. Through personalization, we can convey more. I think commercials will be shorter and consumers will see fewer of them. With less clutter and more impactful ads, we can reduce the frequency while maintaining recall. Instead of a lecture where an ad campaign hammers a message home through frequency, it will be a conversation. Consumers will drive the interaction as much as the brand, and the campaign will adjust as needed. While I believe this is the direction we're heading in, there are some technical and business hurdles we need to overcome.

Going through some old boxes recently, I found a notebook from a Mass Communications course I took during my senior year in college. On the third page, with little context, I wrote: “Someday TV and the internet will be the same thing.” While I wrote that line over 10 years ago, I think it will finally happen within the next five. The statement is simple, but the ramifications are far from it, and it will be fun to see how disruptions change the rules.

What advice do you have for young ad professionals who are beginning their careers?

Surround yourself with people who motivate you and cultivate friendships. You will grow together and share the things you learn along the way. It makes ThinkLA events a heck of a lot more fun, and you never know who you will be working for in the future. Maintain enough humility to ask questions and enough confidence to fail. 

What’s been one of your favorite ThinkLA memories?

Hands down, the first Advanced TV Breakfast is my most meaningful ThinkLA memory. Taking the event from idea to reality was downright scary, and the day of the breakfast was emotional. From the speaker to the guests, seeing everyone come together to debate and learn as a community reminded me why I love this industry.

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

I firmly believe that rising tides lift all ships. When we celebrate each other’s success and push for innovation, we raise the community as a whole. I challenge each of you to put energy into the betterment of our little harbor; you might be surprised by what you get back.

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Kyle Carpenter is Senior Sales Executive at Samsung Ads and a member of the ThinkLA IDEA Council.


Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Ad Club  Advanced TV  Idea  LA advertising  samsung ads  thinkla idea council 

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Global Wednesday: August

Posted By Olivia Christian, Wednesday, August 15, 2018
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly, that break the mold from the mundane handpicked by ThinkLA Board Member and Award-Winning Creative, Luis Camano. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S.

 

 

Ikea, Sweden
A print ad that demonstrated what you can expect from their beds and mattresses.

 

Noblex, Argentina
One tweet and all hell broke loose.

 

Smart, Spain
In the age of “I want it now!”. Well, here it is.

 

Tags:  Global Wednesday 

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Sheila Marmon, Founder and CEO of Mirror Digital

Posted By Web Admin, Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

Everyone is surprised to learn that I began my career on Wall Street in finance. I was an investment banker in the media and entertainment industry where there is a very close connection to advertising because it is the primary revenue stream for the television, magazine, cable, and digital media companies who were my clients.  

After a big stock market crash, I jumped from Wall Street to Time Warner where I worked in strategic planning for the magazine publishing division. I worked on some groundbreaking projects building digital brand extensions for titles like InStyle, Real Simple, and Time. I also worked on some amazing new business launches in the multicultural space with brands like Essence, Sports Illustrated Latino, Suede Magazine that focus on African American, Hispanic, and multicultural consumers respectively.  

After a successful career in corporate America, I decided to become an entrepreneur to marry my passion for working with diverse voices in multicultural media with my love for the innovation in digital media and technology. The result is my company, Mirror Digital, that I launched six years ago. We are a multicultural ad network, and the largest digital media company focused exclusively on Multicultural America.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

My personal motto is derived from a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Being an entrepreneur is an incredibly challenging path. Additionally, being in the “Ad Tech” sector there are very few women and even fewer women of color represented. That said, every day I remember that I am privileged to be able to run a company doing something that I love.


What excites you most about this industry?

I find it exciting that our clients and agency partners are beginning to realize the tremendous business potential of the multicultural consumer market (African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics). Through our work at Mirror Digital, our team shares insights on how multicultural consumers contribute to our culture and economy and grow our clients’ businesses with our innovative digital campaigns. 

 




Photos: Steven F. Heuer Studios

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

 The industry will have to decide the fate of publishing and whether advertising can be as effective without these partners who deliver our clients’ marketing messages.

Being a female, African-American CEO in advertising must not always be an easy journey. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

When I launched my company, there were almost no black women visible in the technology start-up world which made it impossible to secure venture funding to grow my business like my white, male counterparts do.

When things are difficult, the most important thing I do is just keep going. I stay focused on my purpose and the reason I started my firm. Experiencing success thus far with creating jobs for young people of color in our industry, helping clients achieve their goals, and building a profitable business make it all worthwhile.


What advice do you have for young, black professionals just starting in advertising?

My advice to any young professional starting his or her career is to find a firm where people will train you and invest in helping you build skills. From that point forward, don’t ever stop learning. Be a constant student who is willing to learn from everyone: read the trades, sign up for free webinars, understand the latest trends.

Everyone is extremely busy in our industry, especially in the agency world.  If you can build expertise around a topic that no one has figured out yet (whether it be a new social media platform, new advertising technology, or a new media partner) you can make yourself valuable to your team and your company beyond your specific job title.

 For young black professionals and other under-represented groups, my advice is to find allies early on in your career to help you navigate some of the political situations that you don’t learn about in a text book or in school. Also, remember: these allies do not have to necessarily look like you. Find people you get along with and who are willing to help.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018, 2019?

We should be giving some hard thought to the ongoing consolidation within the media industry and the continued growth of the dominant digital technology and advertising platforms. These changes will have a lasting impact on the economics of our industry as fewer companies amass buying and selling power.


Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. We cheat ourselves by not fully leveraging the dynamism of this diversity in our industry. I love that ThinkLA helps us by bringing disparate groups together as a community. From this shared sense of community we can see that there is a lot to be gained by offering everyone a seat at the table.

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Sheila Marmon is Founder and CEO of Mirror Digital.


Tags:  #thinkMembers  Brand Marketer  diversity in advertising  marketing  mirror digital  thinkla  woman owned agency 

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Myra Marayag, VP of Sales, Defy Media

Posted By Don Lupo, Thursday, August 9, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

My first job was an Assistant Producer working on the Lexus account at TeamOne Advertising. After a few years, I moved over to an Account Strategy role since working with clients and brainstorming with my creative teams was extremely fulfilling for me. I learned so much at TeamOne and that agency will always have a special place in my heart. Plus, they had beer on tap which helped a ton! After finishing up my Master’s Degree at USC, I moved to New York and landed a job in digital media working on the Volkswagen, Diageo and Konami accounts. After a few years of working on Madison Avenue, L.A. was calling me back, since my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were doing long distance for a few years, so it was time to head back west

 

I made the move over to the publisher side and worked at CBS Interactive selling their Entertainment and Gaming properties. My boss at the time continues to be my business mentor to this day. And now, I currently work at DEFY Media as a brand storyteller, helping grow revenue across the Gaming, Automotive and Entertainment verticals. My experience working on both agency and publisher roles has helped me understand this industry so much and I’ve been tremendously lucky to have worked with so many great people! 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

Honestly, my family keeps me motivated. Every day I get home from work and my kids (ages 4 and 2) don’t care if I closed a deal or crushed a PPT presentation. They care about the simple things, like how the flowers smell in our backyard or watching airplanes fly in the sky. Seeing the world thru their eyes really makes me want to be a better person in all avenues of my life.

As for a personal motto, I’m a big believer of the saying: “Surround yourself with good people, surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better.” 

What excites you most about this industry?

There’s so much change happening in the industry today so it’s exciting to see how much of it is continues to evolve. One year, MCN’s are the hottest thing to talk about, now it’s all about the power of influencers. It definitely keeps you on your toes as you need to constantly educate yourself in the marketplace to see who is really disrupting the industry.  

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

We already see it now but there’s such a big focus on the power of content. Major companies are consolidating so that they can create more premium content for consumers (i.e. Disney acquiring Fox). Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are all doubling down to make sure they have the next Handmaid’s Tale or Stranger Things franchise. The concept of Skinny Bundles really shows you that content is king and that consumers will dictate what they want to watch, so I think in the next five years, companies who create authentic content with truly engaged audiences will succeed. 

Being a female Sales Executive in our industry must not always be an easy journey. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

Trying to take on too many things and spreading myself too thin. I learned quickly that you really have to focus on the important things that move the needle. Also, I think it’s important to make yourself a seat at the table since it’s not always given to you. But make sure you are worthy of that seat! 

What advice do you have for emerging professionals just starting in advertising?

I can’t say this enough when I mentor folks who are just graduating from college: network, network, network. Most career opportunities will happen due to your own personal network, so make sure your networking game is strong. Also, I recently attended a Women’s Leadership conference, and they reminded me that working on your own personal brand is extremely important.

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

The ThinkLA community is amazing. If you aren’t actively involved, I definitely urge you to do so, as you’ll meet so many friends and business mentors who will help you grow in your career. 

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Myra Marayag is VP of Sales at DEFY Media and currently serves on the ThinkLA IDEA Council.

Tags:  #thinkMembers  defy  media  myra  sales  wom  Women 

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Ben Sarmiento, VP Sales at Eyeview and ThinkLA IDEA Council Member

Posted By Web Admin, Thursday, July 26, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

Fax machines and follow-through is how it all began.

Over 20 years ago, I was a recent UCLA grad with no experience and working knowledge in advertising. I stumbled upon our industry by accident, flooding the market with my résumé for entry level positions. After having been turned down by several agencies for zero experience, I had a great interview with the Sony Theatrical media planning team at McCann-Erickson. Within an hour after it ended, I went straight to Kinko’s, typed out my thank-you letters, and faxed it to every person I met. I got an offer that day and I accepted. Key life lesson learned: be hungry and never underestimate the follow-through.

Since my days at McCann, my career road map has been more like a Lego set: everything connects and builds. It’s very interesting to see over the years what’s been added and taken away, but understanding it is all part of the process.

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?

Stay even keel, because with every peak, there’s a valley.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

Being a part of something bigger than me. Seeing how my contribution impacts the greater good. This is why I thrive in start-up environments and why I volunteer my time with ThinkLA.

What excites you most about this industry?

The ever-changing tech landscape. It’s fascinating to see how our industry continues to evolve as new technology gets developed.

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

Where is advertising headed? What do the next five years look like?

Data-driven video creative and analytics will be the next big wave. Consumers want relevancy and brands want to tell their story in a more impactful way. In this mix will come better creative storytelling and the ability to assess its effectiveness.

What advice do you have for young ad professionals just beginning their careers?

The most important brand is you. It’s not the ones you work for or work on, because all of that is temporary. You should ask yourself: What can you do to make your brand unique? Successful? Long lasting? Then put it into action.

What’s been one of your favorite ThinkLA memories?

Winning ThinkLA Sales Person of the Year.

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

It’s more a question: What can you do to give back to our ThinkLA community? ThinkLA has helped many of us find jobs, advance our careers, create long-lasting friendships, and even marriages. What can you do to help ThinkLA thrive well beyond our generation?

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Ben Sarmiento is Executive Director, Sales - Auto at Eyeview Digital and currently serves on the ThinkLA IDEA Council as Co-President.

Tags:  #thinkMembers #memberspotlight Advertising  Brand Marketer  Future of Advertising  LA Advertising  Members  ThinkLA  ThinkMembers 

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Pride Month Recap 🌈🦄

Posted By ThinkLA, Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ThinkLA's corporate members celebrated Pride Month with many different events and fundraisers benefiting the LGBTQ+ community. We're all in this together. 🌈🌈🌈

 

605, a TV data and analytics company, takes diversity, inclusion, and community service to heart year 'round. This past month, employees from coast to coast showed their pride by donating clothes to Ali Forney Center (New York) and LA LGBT Center (Los Angeles), organizations dedicated to lending a helping hand to LGBTQ+ individuals in need.

 

The Oath team marched together in the Pride Parade! For over 40 years, L.A. Pride has been a champion for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the L.A. community and beyond.



 

At POSSIBLE LA, it’s all about pride! Sarah Keene, Art Director at POSSIBLE created this beautiful representation of various LGBTQ+ influencers.


 

RPA raised $4,392.50 for The Family Village Services. This money will fund a program that serves some of the most vulnerable in society: homeless LGBTQ+ youth. This program has been a labor of love for the organization with no dedicated budget, so this money will have a huge impact for youth and teens in our community. In order to fundraise, RPA hosted various events and sales:

  • RPA @ LGBT+ Dodger night game
  • Drag Queen Bingo to raise money for Project Q (LGBTQ outreach program featuring weekly support groups at their homeless youth drop-in centers) and Queer Kickback (biannual events sponsored by The Village bringing together LGBTQ+ youth in a safe space)
  • Raising money for The Village Family Services throughout the entire month of June via T-Shirt Sales and donation-driven breakfast and bar carts in addition to Bingo and Art Gallery events.
  • Pride Art Show/Summer Concert Series Pride Happy Hour



 
At the core of Pride Week at TBWA LA is a fundraising effort that benefits the L.A. Youth Network, an organization that provides hope and homes for foster and homeless LGBTQ+ youth due to the rising statistic that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. The agency raised money with the following activities: 
  • Art Gallery: the agency curates an art gallery featuring pieces of work from an artist or photographer who either identifies with or is closely involved with the LGBTQA community. Prints are donated to the agency and auctioned off at the end of the week with all proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization.
  • Bake Sale: the agency found a plethora of passionate bakers across the campus who love to get creative with rainbow-colored treats for the campus bake sale. 
  • T-Shirt Design Competition: the winning design is decided by Chief Creative Officers on campus, made and sold to employees with all proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization. 
  • Agency talk and Musical Performance: a talk from Tre’vell Anderson, film reporter with The Los Angeles Times who covers the intersection of diversity and Hollywood with a focus on black and queer film; musical guest included Gordi, an Australian folktronica singer/songwriter who identifies with the LGBTQA community, and pop band MUNA played at the agency. 
  • Pride Parade and Celebration: the week’s celebration culminated at the Los Angeles Pride Parade where the campus came together to walk as a team. 

 Giant Spoon celebrated the LGBTQ+ community with a new digital video campaign and activation at San Francisco Pride for its client MassMutual. Similar to its social mosaic video, Pride attendees were able to take pictures in a GIF photo booth. With a message that rings, "Great things happen when we stand together,” the campaign invited the larger community to participate and stand together during Pride Month. 

 

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Would you like to see your company's Pride news or other community outreach programs on this blog? Email don@thinkla.org with your news!

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  DIG  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  LGBTQ+  PRIDE 

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Global Wednesdays: July

Posted By Don Lupo, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly, that break the mold from the mundane. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S.

 

Welcome to the Cannes Edition of Global Wednesdays! Sorry if I am a bit late with this entry, but I was enjoying some fine vodka and blinis with my Russian friends in Moscow. Yes, at the World Cup! I want to highlight a few winners that might not have gotten the valued Gran Prix, but still delivered big in creativity, surprise, and effectivity. All the entries below are from the Brand Experience and Activations categories. 

 

Category: Brand Experience/Activation
This French entry made people taste the future and what’s at stake regarding climate change.

 

Category: In-store Experience
Carrefour in Paris created a black market inside its supermarket. Who said Supermarket marketing has to be boring?

Category: Live Brand Experience/Activation
This one comes from Perú. A social experiment so honest it's shocking.

Category: Brand Experience
Dairy Queen in Panamá. This stunt is absolutely on brand.


ThinkLA couldn't be more grateful for Luis Camano, ThinkLA Board Member, award-winning creative, and an expert in the field of Brand Activation, for being our Global Warrior and bringing these to our attention. We hope that Global Wednesdays inspires our members as much as it does us.

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Aaron Walton, Founding Partner, Walton Isaacson

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

The truth is, my interest in advertising traces back to my childhood, watching Bewitched as a kid. I was fascinated with the way Darrin found creative solutions for the agency’s clients.

I wound up attending Babson College, which is known for a focus on entrepreneurialism. Roger Enrico, President of PepsiCola North America, was a Babson alum. I was involved in student government at Babson and Enrico saw me speak at a Board of Trustees meeting. That connection led to landing my first job in marketing. I started my career at Pepsi in research and brand management. I really wanted to work for the legendary ad man, Alan Potash. He was known as the godfather of Pepsi’s most iconic campaigns (Pepsi Challenge, Pepsi Now, Choice of A New Generation). I had successfully lobbied to be moved to his department when a special assignment came up. My transfer to advertising was put on hold, and instead, I was asked to manage the company’s music marketing efforts. I represented Pepsi on tour with Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, David Bowie, and the Miami Sound Machine.

My role evolved beyond music, expanding to include celebrities and all things pop-culture—basically tying the brand in the social zeitgeist. In the end, I never did wind up working directly for Alan in the advertising department.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to go out on my own, so I started Aaron Walton Entertainment (AWE). Pepsi was my first client. My focus was on using music, celebrity and pop-culture to amplify brand messages and connect with consumers experientially. Clients also included AT&T, Taco Bell, Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut, Budweiser and others. Omnicom acquired AWE as part of their DAS division. Following my tenure at DAS, I decided I wanted to start a new agency, one that expanded beyond celebrity and played a role throughout the strategic and creative development of 360 campaigns. Which brings me to Walton Isaacson.

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?

Culture matters. Leaning into culture, and specifically leveraging diversity of experience, drives innovation. But buckle up, because drawing from many perspectives is messy—but it can also be magic. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is key.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I embrace the philosophy of civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who said, “We need in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” That applies to work, home – to virtually all aspects of life. And, what I love to see, what keeps me motivated, is my ability to work with young talent and shift their thinking from accepting the status quo to embracing respectful rebellion. Igniting sparks and setting minds on fire. When I can free a person up to think like an angelic troublemaker, then everything else falls into place – the work for clients soars, the personal and professional satisfaction of the team reaches new heights. I love identifying the person in the team who is ready to challenge themselves. My impact on them ultimately impacts others and we all grow.

What excites you most about this industry?

Telling stories that have not been told in ways that they have not been told. We are no longer an industry that does monologues, talking about ourselves to ourselves. We are in dialogue with people, we are collaborators, and the creative possibilities are infinite. Where is advertising is headed? What do the next five years look like? From a societal standpoint – whether brands accept it or not —cultural commitment will drive a brand’s success. That means awakening to the power of authenticity, being vulnerable, having values, prioritizing purpose. The more brands face the world the way they want the world to face them, the more successful they will be.

 

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals who are beginning their careers?

You deserve a seat at the table and don’t let anyone or anything suggest otherwise. It may not be given to you, you may have to demand it, but you have earned it – not just because you’re Black, but because you’re great. And don’t be afraid to bring your cultural perspectives and, frankly, powers to the conversation. You understand the world in a way that many others don’t. You understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of human behavior. You have your finger on the pulse of the future. Don’t settle for the scraps and don’t feel obligated to teach others what it has taken you a lifetime to learn. The industry needs you and it must respect you.

I would also say this for LGBTQ, Latinos, Asians, Women across cultural segments – I would say it to any group for whom a career in this industry was not always a viable option and who still remain marginalized in many contexts.

Why did you decide to join the ThinkLA board?

I wanted to join ThinkLA because of the organization’s commitment to celebrating the creative power that fuels this town. L.A. has a deep bench of creatives across multiple agency models and industries, but they often go unrecognized or undervalued. L.A. is not always taken seriously and that impacts the way the industry here is viewed. But the creative talent in L.A. helps determine trends and communicates compelling stories through television, film, radio, digital content, advertising and events. There is amazing storytelling generated in L.A. and it’s essential that L.A. talent get recognized and honored for that. I am proud to be part of an organization like ThinkLA because of its mission to help amplify the work that comes out of this community – creativity lives in L.A.

Any closing thoughts?

Welcome to LA, King James!

 

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Aaron Walton is a Founding Partner of Walton Isaacson, a full-service advertising agency founded in 2006 along with Cory Isaacson and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Aaron currently serves on ThinkLA's Board of Directors

Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  Member Spotlight  Philosophy  Walton Isaacson 

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Sunny Behniwal, Senior Account Executive, Adelphic

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

After earning a degree in Economics and Accounting from UCSB, I spent the first two years of my career in Accounting at Conversant. My career in Accounting was progressing well, but I felt I was underutilizing other skill sets I possessed. So I looked to make a change. Luckily, I was working for an AdTech company at the time and was able to move into and Account Manager role on the media team.

After a little over a year, I was promoted to Account Executive (AE). I spent a little over two years in an AE role with my prior company before joining Adelphic-Viant as a Senior Account Executive about a year ago.

What has been a surprising lesson you've learned so far in your career?

I’ve learned that emotional intelligence is one of the most important traits to possess and consistently work on. When I was younger, my thought process was very linear: Work Hard > Get Promoted > Make More Money > Success. However, there will be so many highs and lows during your career that learning how to treat people and react to situations during the lows becomes more important than your behavior during the highs in regard to your long-term success.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a motto?

I’ve found the happiest people I have come across in my life are those who continue to strive for progress. So, my motivation every day is to make progress whether that be professionally, mentally, spiritually or physically.

Two of my favorite quotes which I often reference are:

  • "I do not believe in taking the right decision; I take a decision and make it right."
  • "You know the comfort zone is never static. It’s always in a state of expansion or retraction."

 




Photos: Don Lupo

 

What excites you most about this industry?

I love how the industry is constantly changing, forcing me to adapt, and continue learning. But more important than that, I love the diversity and inclusion of our industry. I have been able to interact and forge meaningful relationships with individuals from so many different walks of life.

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

The industry is going to continue to consolidate with only truly differentiated companies remaining. With the consolidation, I feel the need for great customer service will be at an all-time high.

Transparency will continue to be a hot button, and I see advertisers moving more and more away from traditional digital KPIs while focusing more on meaningful measurement such as actual online/offline sales.

What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?

I would advise anyone that is new to advertising to be as open-minded as possible and to try different roles/responsibilities until they find a truly great fit. Luckily for them, our industry has a plethora of job types within our industry ranging from Sales to Engineering to Creative to Analytics, etc. 

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Sunny Behniwal currently serves on ThinkLA's Emerging Leaders Council, and is a Senior Account Executive at Adelphic (a Viant, Inc. company). Prior to joining Adelphic, Sunny worked at Conversant

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  Member Spotlight  Members  Sales Career  Sales Executive  ThinkLA  ThinkMembers 

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