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Member Spotlight: Kristina Jenkins, Chief Strategy Officer, Zambezi

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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

Believe it or not, I have E.T. and the Reese’s Pieces candy he loved eating to thank for my start in advertising. My mom took me to see the movie to celebrate my eighth birthday and when the final credits started rolling, I turned to her and asked if she could please take me to the store to buy some Reese’s Pieces. When I took my first bite I didn’t like them at all (yuck; M&Ms tasted so much better, I thought), but I kept eating them because E.T. did.

I knew the influence the movie had on me and I was fascinated. I wanted to be part of creating that type of influence one day, by inspiring people to make choices that they enjoyed. Advertising seemed like a way (at least to my 8-year-old self) to do that, and so here I am.

E.T. inspired my start and me in countless other ways. He showed me that even if you don’t see yourself in the place you dream of being a part of, that doesn’t mean that you won’t get there. I never saw a Kristina Jenkins in any of the cultural expressions of who worked in advertising growing up (I’m not Darren from Bewitched or Amanda from Melrose Place). I still rarely see her today. But I’m here in the place of my dreams.

He also helped me discover that inspiration resides in the most unexpected places like aliens and in candy. It doesn’t matter where or who your dream comes from; it’s where you take it.

Throughout my career, I’ve followed an inner compass more than a road map. My career started with a calling that gave me a vision for what I wanted to be and why. I wasn’t always exactly sure where I wanted to go. There were many times when I got distracted, disappointed or lost during my career. And when I did, I closed my eyes and thought back to that moment when I watching E.T. with my mom in a Long Island movie theater. It’s the moment when I decided that I would do extraordinary things in advertising. I remember how I wanted to help influence people in positive ways. Then I opened my eyes, promised myself I would settle for nothing less, took some time to get clear on where I was going and figured out a way to get there.

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

What keeps me motivated is thinking about all the people who are made to feel that it’s not okay to be different, who encounter “no” and “can’t“ and “never“ again and again while they’re pursuing their dreams and goals. I think about a generation of talent that is growing up right now dreaming about being a Chief Strategy Officer one day, and I keep doing what I’m doing so that they can see themselves in what I do and what I am, and so that they have someone who inspires them to do great things in this industry, to remind them not to let anyone talk them out of their dream or make them doubt the difference they can make.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

When I found the courage to be myself and do things my way and take on roles that allowed me to think and collaborate with supportive talent, that’s when I realized there was nothing I couldn’t achieve. I’m totally comfortable working with companies that aren’t always the “it” award-winning agencies with the top clients in the hottest cities. I’ve learned to look past all that and focus on my own vision and larger purpose, and on my career. I look for the right opportunities with the right companies at the right time. That’s what I’ve learned to do.

What excites you most about this industry?

Complex business problems and heightened consumer expectations are creating all sorts of opportunities for agencies and their leaders to let go and re-imagine existing strategic staffing models, fundamentals, frameworks, and playbooks. This excites me the most. In too many instances, we’re relying on 20th century ways of working to solve 21st century challenges. This industry can be more of catalyst for what’s new and what’s never been done before.

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

I think it’s going to be challenged in unprecedented ways. Those that hang on and resist change will become irrelevant. Those who create opportunity out of these challenges will thrive.

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

Discover that you’re different. Surround yourself with people who believe in your “different.” Master your “different.” Push boundaries with your “different.” Help others unlock and confidently charge forward with their “different.”

This industry may try to make you feel that you are lucky to work in it. That’s how the industry made me feel when I first started. Remember that this industry needs you. We need your optimism, courage, energy, and “different" to help us re-imagine the way things have always been done.

Be the strongest version of yourself, mentally, spiritually and physically. This industry requires a level of strength like you can’t imagine. Unapologetically create space and time to take care of yourself and recharge.

I’ve made all my career decisions by listening to my heart. For example, saying "Yes" early in my career to what many saw was a huge mistake (leaving a big NYC TV agency to live in the sunshine in L.A., while also working at a digital agency). There also was a time when I said "Thank you, but no thank you" to working 24/7 at some of the most prestigious agencies on the most iconic brands, so I could say "Yes" to working with a company that designed a role around me and the life I wanted.

Start by asking yourself what life you want. Then think about the job you want and where.

You’ve worked in advertising in both coasts. Which does it better?

They are very different and offer very different opportunities. There is nothing like working in advertising in N.Y. It’s a city that celebrates sophistication and polish. It’s a city of random collisions that lead to collaborations and ideas that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Agencies own their point of view. There is an electricity that fills their walls, along with a relentless pursuit of greatness. It forces you to assert yourself in unprecedented ways. It humbles you and challenges you with setbacks where you have to decide if you are going to get back up and try again daily.

Los Angeles is bright, optimistic and full of possibility. It doesn’t take itself so seriously. I once read that California is the place that New Yorkers go when they want to be a better version of themselves. I’ve found that to be true. It’s a great place to be as a talent if you want to experiment with new ways of approaching things. It gives you space and permission to recharge, and encourages you to use the inspiration that emerges when you do in your work.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

I’d love to hear more conversation about what senior leaders can learn from talent that is brand new to the advertising industry. They have much to teach us. I’ve always wanted to create a program where someone who is a year into their career mentored someone who has been in the business for 20 years.

Any closing thoughts?

We never do great things alone. There are so many people who have been part of helping me get to a place where I can inspire others. To each and every one of them I say, "Thank you".

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Kristina Jenkins is Chief Strategy Officer at Zambezi. Prior to joining Zambezi, Kristina was Culture Intelligence Officer at mcgarrybowen. 

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Member Spotlight  Members  ThinkLA  ThinkMembers 

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Key Takeaways from the 3% Minicon

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Written by Brook Hauge, Associate Director, Strategy at Canvas Worldwide and Jana Wentz, VP, Account Director at RPA

Edited by Don Lupo, Director of Content and Marketing at ThinkLA

Diversity is about representation, while inclusion is having an equal seat and a voice at the table. At the end of the day, I notice and you notice. We have the ability to make this world more open and inclusive for everyone.

If we keep pushing at the same ideas and ideals, we are simply pattern matching, which runs the risk of “mirror-tocracy” (funding and working with those who look, feel, and seem just like yourself) vs. meritocracy (influenced by those in power).

From a technology perspective, people are inherently looking for, craving, and designing more connections, but are we really creating meaningful ones? We teach ourselves bad habits, and now through AI, we are teaching our devices bad habits. We are starting to see the effect which AI devices have on emotional intelligence when we remove “Please” and “Thank you” from our digital connections.

This also questions how we are able to infuse empathy into technology processes. We wonder how we will teach the next generation to be utilitarian with their various connected lives and how we will teach them to use the power of human connection and empathy to connect through these same devices. It will become necessary to connect with others through experiences that remove us from our own bias and put us in simulated environments that shape a more inclusive self.

We also learned that change is difficult, and everyone recognizes the need for uprising. However, few know where to start to implement real change. There are so many cultural conversations that need to be dimensionalized. Humans know what is right, but we need forums like 3% to rally around and to lean into ideas other than your own or your small circle.

The CMOs have taught us that inclusivity builds business. Being vulnerable, authentic, and drawing knowledge/inspiration from others is how great culture is formed; dictatorial and didactic leadership is not accepted in today’s workforce. We learned there is no better place to start than forming allies: share success, not just failures. We can build up each other with positive stories.

 

 

Representation is at the root of it all. Who are the people making the decisions? Who is writing the script? How are decisions being made? You cannot just convince people; they change their point of view when they experience something that challenges their beliefs. The world is one social conversational moment at a time: those moments become movements, but they remain moments if we call them that. By dismissing things as moments and not embracing them as movements, we remove the power of all the steps that got us from then to now.

When there is 30% or more of any group in a room, psychologically, we stop seeing anyone as a minority.

In addition, Radical empathetic listening is about putting ourselves in others’ shoes to truly understand what they are experiencing. This helps us all understand how others might be marginalized or not included at all. Empathic listening is really about exercising how we listen and learn about someone’s story and using “I” language. Using “I” when you tell another person’ story as if it was your own, you begin to feel what they feel. Understanding someone else is the societal start to truly connecting. Everything has become very data-driven, and we are missing the emotion in it. Radical empathy can inject that back into the experience.

At the intersection of all things possible is tech and human content. Choose your words: Communication is the tool we use to create change. Language is a creator or bias and is fundamentally crowdsourced. We need to break the system. Unconscious bias leaves people with a desire not to speak; language can be an excluder, but there are ways to participate (rewrite the dictionary, educate to empathize, believe in change). By using new language, we can actually change.

Final thoughts:

Fight. Flight. Freeze. (Change through the Freeze). We are a collective; heroism is gone. We are in search of the connections, and women and leaders who are redefining the rules by which we live, work, play. Speak and include everyone at the very beginning.


Tags:  #ThinkDIG  3%  DIG  diversity  Diversity in Advertising 

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Member Spotlight: Mike Chu, VP, Media Sales at GlobalWide Media

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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

My career path hasn’t been that of a typical sales professional. I completed university ready to start a career as an electrical engineer but, like my father and mother, sales kept calling my name.

I grew up in Silicon Valley watching my father sell his way through the semiconductor industry with companies like AMD, LSI Logic, and iWatt. And on top of that, I received very early training from my mother, as early as while I was in the womb, as she mastered sales in the technology space at IBM and Digital Equipment Corp. while growing our family.

I gave database and tech work a solid try at Quinstreet, an advertising agency in the Bay Area, but quickly learned that I was more interested in advertising than tech. I quickly developed my knowledge of online advertising, lead generation, and email marketing, enabling me to transition into a business development role. From there, I went on to develop my career in sales working with the best-of-the-best in digital to continuously build lasting relationships. The one thing I learned early on and carried with me is that our industry operates like a small town and every knows everyone, so put good out in the world and it will come back to you.

Do you have a personal motto?

My motivation comes from the fast pace of the digital advertising and working alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry. The second you slow down, you get left behind, so I make sure I keep things moving, stay on top of the latest innovations and technology, and do my part to help advance the industry landscape.

Ask anyone on my team and they’ll all give you the same answer when asked what my motto is -- “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” I always ask for the sale, help, perks, discounts, etc. I’ve got nothing to lose, only gain.

What excites you most about this industry?

The limitless possibilities for the future. From a product perspective, I can’t wait to see where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality takes us. Not only the technology behind new innovations, but also the people. Not a day goes by that I don’t eagerly research new ways our industry can build emotional connections between brands and consumers. I myself am fortunate to be heavily involved in ThinkLA, where I get the opportunity to experience first-hand the great work of our community’s talent.

What's the most important lesson you've learned?

Learning never stops; you have to have an open mind. Our industry is constantly evolving and if you close yourself off from new ideas, thought, and technologies, you’ll get left behind.

It’s also good to remember that there is absolutely more than one way to accomplish a task. I run into too many people who feel that they know everything there is to know about sales, the industry, or a product. In my mind, life is a giant math problem and there’s an infinite number of ways to solve a single problem.

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

Exciting things await the advertising industry. Take blockchain technology for instance. Not only is it an interesting investment, but it’s a vehicle for placing power back in the hands of consumers. We have seen social media networks in the news for the misuse of consumer data. With blockchain, there are decentralized solutions that would allow consumers to monetize the data shared with advertisers, giving them a choice in how and when their data is used.

As far as the next five years -- well, as we’ve seen, a lot can happen in five years! Mass adoption of blockchain technology by consumers and advertisers/agencies similar to what we’ve seen with programmatic advertising could change the face of the advertising landscape as we know it.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

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

The best advice I can give to up-and-comers is to work with a mentor that will not only share their successes, but also their failures. Make it a point to get together as often as possible and absorb the information like a sponge. A trusted mentor is also a great person to bounce ideas off of or find ways to overcome challenging situations.

Second, attend as many networking events as possible. You never know who you’re going to meet and when they’ll be able to help you as you grow your career.

You are the father to two adorable children. How do you balance your family and personal life with work obligations?

I constantly remind myself that I can do it all, I just can’t do it all alone. When it comes to family, my wife and I are a team: very similar to the team I rely on at GlobalWide Media. We develop a strategy, settle on a plan, then execute. As I mentioned before, there is more one way to accomplish a task, so I do my best to stay agile and work with my team to divide and conquer the task at hand, whether it’s at home or work.

I also do my best to be home for as many nighttime snuggles as possible.

Any closing thoughts?

Always strive for perfection, but be sure that your idea of perfection is attainable. There’s no perfect product on the market, and people aren’t perfect either. But if you’re always striving for perfection, then you’ll undoubtedly perform better and better each time. You’ll also learn what your strengths and weaknesses are. A good friend helped me discover my strengths and weaknesses early in my career. From that moment on, I worked on improving my weaknesses and focused on using my strengths to overshadow my weaknesses. I once read a quote by Carlos Castaneda that said, “We either make ourselves miserable or make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Focus on the things you can control and stay positive.

Lastly, do the right thing: the right thing for yourself, your team (at home and at work), and your clients. There is a lot of pressure to push business in a specific direction, to raise your family a certain way, so it is easier said than done. But if we all try to look at things more objectively and choose to see the good, then only good will come from it.

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Mike Chu is VP, of Media Sales at GlobalWide Media, and has been an active member of ThinkLA since the organization began in 2007. 

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  GlobalWide Media  Mike Chu 

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Member Spotlight: Carlene Rowe, Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential, Conill Advertising

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

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

I’ve always been fascinated with storytelling, as I’m a big fan of film, television and music. One of my favorite movies as a kid was ET. My favorite part in the film was when ET was lured by one of the characters with Reese’s Pieces candy. This was my first encounter with advertising and product placement, which led me to study marketing and advertising at California State University, Northridge.

My first job out of college was working as a Contemporary Marketing Representative at Anheuser-Busch. During my tenure, I had the privilege to partner with top talent, travel the world and learn from the best minds in the advertising industry, as we launched memorable beer campaigns, which made Budweiser the iconic brand it is today. After years of moving up the ladder, I landed the best job in the company, as Sr. Manager of Sports and Entertainment, working with agencies on several campaigns.

This led me to my role as Director of Sports and Entertainment at Conill Advertising, what a great ride!

To this day, Reese’s Pieces is still my favorite candy… advertising works!

Do you have a personal motto?

I'm passionate about Sports and Entertainment, so doing something I love is always fun, rewarding and thrilling. In addition, my team at Conill keeps me motivated, as they are creative, hard working and inspiring leaders ready to make their mark in advertising.

My personal motto is, “Leadership is earned, not given”, so I encourage everyone on my team to be a leader. It doesn’t matter what title you hold, we all have the responsibility to share new ideas, think outside the box and make a difference as it relates to their project or field of work.

What excites you most about this industry?

Constant change. Data and innovation are KEY, as we are learning new ways to communicate with audiences globally. Data and innovation will continue to provide brands with the ability to hyper-target consumers and measure results more precisely and insightfully than ever before. In an era where we can tune in to watch an electric car being launched to Mars via social media for everyone around the world to see, not even the 'sky's the limit' anymore. With change comes growth, which is exhilarating!

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

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation!

VR, AI, voice-control systems and new apps, provide brands with a way to link with hyper-connected consumers, as a means to provide more authentic and personalized engagement. Look out for new ways of distributing branded content and new avenues of communication through advancements in technology that will impact the way we communicate with consumers globally.

What advice do you have for people in advertising that are beginning their career?

Find your niche. I manage the Sports and Entertainment department, which is a new area of focus at our agency; it gives us the ability to reach new audiences through influencer marketing and events, as it paves the road for our brands to get in front of consumers and engage in a way that is appealing and authentic.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

There are so many things happening across the marketing landscape, that it’s impossible to call them all out. From my vantage point, innovation, experiential, and influencer marketing will continue to be pivotal in creating unforgettable experiences for consumers, particularly given changes in social media platforms, such as Facebook. Technological advancements in these areas over the next few years will continue to transform the engagement model and expand the relationship envelope.

Any closing thoughts?

As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” We need more leaders who aren’t afraid to take risks and disrupt old ways of thinking. We must foster and cultivate the emerging visionaries in our business, so they can take us to new heights.

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Carlene Rowe is the Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential at Conill Advertising. Carlene recently spoke at ThinkLA's Auto Breakfast, and was featured on ThinkLA's Women of Color in Advertising to Highlight list.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG  Diversity in Advertising  ThinkMembers  Women 

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Member Spotlight: Luis Camano, Founder and Chief Creative at Key Activations

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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

Long road map. After graduating with a BA in Architecture, and realizing I was not the architect type, I started as an art director at BBDO/ Buenos Aires. After a few years, I headed north to BBDO/NY, where I just concentrated on creating THE WORK, THE WORK, THE WORK.

Next stop: Boston. Too cold for me, but became a Red Sox for life.

After four years, Los Angeles was my next move. Alcone and Grupo Gallegos were my homes for the last two decades, until I decided to call my own shots.

Today I work in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires, mainly creating brand activation/content campaigns, both for clients and agencies.

Do you have a personal motto?

The brief you are working on today is always the most important one. Never wait for the dream assignment. Only you can make it a dream assignment.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Always have an opinion, a point of view. Voice it.

What excites you most about this industry?

The ever-changing nature of it. It keeps you young, fresh, agile. Always looking forward.

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

I recently read that by 2022, 80% of the advertising process will be automated, “a threshold that will never be surpassed”. We should then, heavily concentrate on the remaining 20%, by continuing to build brand value, storytelling and experiences. All things that, in order to be created, will always need a human being to achieve it.

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

Love it 100% or find something else to do. There’s no cruising in this industry.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

There are many topics in our industry that are currently being addressed: pay inequality, harassment in the workplace, diversity, inclusion are fundamental topics we all need to collaborate to resolve them.

But from where I stand, I want to put all my effort into bringing back one-on-one mentorship to the ad agencies. What happened to it? The frenetic pace of our industry doesn’t allow it anymore. But on the other hand we have the time to answer 300 daily mails. Or spend endless hours in unnecessary meetings. We need to invest our time wisely, efficiently. And mentoring someone is the best investment our industry can make.

 


Photos: Don Lupo

 

You are one of the most creative people we know. How do you get into a creative state if you’re feeling less-than-creative? 

The worst thing you can do is to stay put and try to hammer the ideas out of your head. It's a total waste of time and energy. I’d go for a walk, listen to a podcast, or share the brief and my initial thoughts with a friend (who doesn’t work in advertising).

Look for different perspectives outside our “world”. You might find a very practical solution or discover a new insight.

Any closing thoughts?

I love millennials. I love their philosophy about life. The pursuit to find balance between their personal life and work. They do have more than a point. And we can all learn a thing or two from them.

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Luis Camano is a ThinkLA board member and mentor, award winning creative, and an expert in the field of brand activation. Luis puts international advertising on our radar by providing our monthly Global Wednesday content. 

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Chief Creative Officer  Creative  Global Ads  Global Wednesday  Member Spotlight  Mentor 

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Member Spotlight: Reddit LA's Matt Joanou and Will Cady

Posted By Emily Hope, Monday, April 23, 2018


How did you get started in advertising?

Will: Music happened to me first. I studied electric bass through high school and college and then played professionally for another decade in Boston. I learned so much about the idea of Expression and not enough about the idea of Audience. Everything was “practice, practice, practice”. This was essential to the craft, but I saw a gap between what the supposed “best” artists create and what most people actually care about. Why do more people listen to Flea than do Jaco Pastorius?

Trying to answer that question led me to L.A. to work at a legacy music magazine going digital. Who better to understand what most people actually care about? Their whole value proposition is that they know what’s cool and more people -- or supposedly “bette”’ people -- trust their take than do the other magazines. That was the hustle, at least.

Through that experience, I found that my inner scales were tipping the other way. I was focusing too much on Audience and not enough on actual Expression. It left me asking, “How do you build an audience of people who are actually paying attention?”

Honestly, trying to answer that question created more frustration in me than it did inspiration. So I quit. I hit a big reset button and made time for myself to “figure it out”. That’s when I got the call from Reddit, which is funny because in a lot of ways Reddit was going through the same internal reckoning at that time. I suspect that’s how resonance operates.

A couple of years into Reddit, I’m feeling a harmony and things seem to just work. Reddit has been a place where I’ve found a balance between Expression and Audience, because it is a platform of communities built on the experience of shared expression. So now, I’m gathering the answers to hopefully someday share with others who may find themselves asking the same questions I did.

Matt: In 2010, I was focused on helping long-tail businesses (i.e., “mom and pop shops”) market directly to their customers via mobile phones. While at Cal Poly SLO, myself and five friends built a loyalty platform called Punchd, essentially digitizing buy-x-get-y-free physical punch cards. Groupon had come onto the scene a few years prior and demonstrated the potential of grassroots digital campaigns to drive foot traffic. The challenge was how a business could retain their new customers after a discount-driven surge in foot traffic.

The industry soon saw that daily deals were only a small piece of the online-to-offline commerce puzzle. Punchd served as a natural evolution and offered small business owners a simple tool to engage with their customers regularly. After moving up to the Bay and going through the first batch of an incubator called 500 Startups, we were acquired by Google. As a team, we continued to tackle similar challenges with an internal group called the Mobile Apps Lab.

After several years of working on Loyalty efforts and in-turn Google Wallet and Offers, I was encouraged by my mentors to make the jump to the Ads side of Google. Ads is the engine of Google, and the next two years served as my introduction to digital advertising. The work was split between partnering with brands and agencies across Google’s offerings: Search, Display, YouTube, and Mobile. Understanding multiple layers of the digital funnel, especially brand versus performance, taught me to always consider the big picture and how marketing fits into a larger strategy.

In 2015, a couple of my former colleagues from Google had joined Reddit to help rebuild the company (Reddit had been owned by Condé Nast for the nearly eight years prior). It was the sleeping giant of the internet, with nearly 300 million users and under 100 employees. I joined the team the following year to help launch our L.A. presence with Will, Ben (Miller), and Dante (Orpilla). The biggest questions we needed to answer at the time were, “What does L.A. mean to Reddit? And what does Reddit mean to L.A.?”( See below for their thoughts two years down the road.)

Why Reddit? Why L.A.?

Will: Reddit and Los Angeles are both grids with massive pockets of culture that often manage to shift culture entirely. The difference is, Reddit is where passions are shared and Los Angeles is where passions are made.

Now that we have this IRL presence in LA, we have opened up the connection between industry and the masses in a very exciting way. We’re making it happen through our partnerships with showrunners, tech companies, and advertisers alike.

This past month, Reddit’s Chief Technology Officer Chris Slowe moderated a conversation with Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet at the Google L.A. office. Chris sourced his questions directly from the r/LosAngeles subreddit community and the r/Technology community. These Angelenos and tech fans had their voices heard.

As more partners come to us, we’d like to explore how we can dip further into giving that megaphone to the staggeringly wide spread of communities hosting passionate conversation every day on Reddit. Redditors are not just techies; we’re also baseball fans, and makeup artists, and hypebeasts, and auto mechanics. Anything you love, we have a community for it. There’s even an r/Advertising.

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

Matt: Drive to do good work and make an impact. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of companies whose missions I truly believe in, that what we’re doing is worthwhile. It makes all the difference. The work will not always be inspiring, but the end goal still can be. With individual projects or campaigns, I gravitate towards those that I can be proud of once finished. Ultimately, I want to be able to sign my name on quality.

Will: What keeps me motivated is motivation itself. Giving a damn. It’s the one thing us humans can do that the robots can never take from us.

Robert M. Pirsig died one year ago this month. He wrote a book called Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance and in it he describes an idea of quality that’s as refreshingly practical as it is abstract. The idea is that only as much quality can be extracted from a creation as was put in it. So a motorcycle will only have has many miles in it as the manufacturer cares about the thing when they make it; and beyond that how much its owner cares to fix it.

You’ve got to give a damn if you want the things in your life to be good.

Looking at advertising specifically, I’ve found this to be the most useful standard to hold for my own process of developing creative content and campaigns for partners. If it’s engagement we’re looking for from people, then we need to be engaged ourselves when making whatever we’re putting in front of them.

Funny enough, giving a damn is also about 70% of the formula for getting to the front page on Reddit. That’s why it’s always good.

 What excites you most about this industry?

Matt: We are living through a unique time of information availability and proliferation. There is societal awareness of the power of influence and attention like we’ve never seen. The next generation was born into this connectedness and has just started to realize its power. The March for Science rewrote the rulebook on advocacy and demonstrating what true digital influence looks like. Their movement has a cause and ethos behind it that resonates on its own. At the same time, brands are being asked to take a stance in how, where, and what they stand for. While it’s a precarious place to play from, it’s also a huge opportunity and will define the successful brands of tomorrow.

Will: The evolution of Creative’s role in advertising over just these past few years has been exciting for me. Now that we effectively have the ability to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, the question we’re left with is, “What do we say?”

That shift has moved creative from a supporting role in advertising into a driving one. At its highest expression, you see brands functioning as patrons of the arts in a manner that used to be reserved only for royalty and the church.

Most encouraging of all, is that in order for this approach to work at all, these brands have to actually add value and move a creative field forward – and when they do, it absolutely soars. Look at Apple’s “Shot on an iPhone” campaign. Look at Vans’ Warped Tour.

 


Photos: Don Lupo

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

Listen to what everyone is saying and figure out how to say it better. The best ideas are self-apparent, so learn how to express them in a way that moves conversation forward faster and further, whatever the medium.

I find words to be especially important. It’s vital to not only recognize which words have become empty language, but to also make an effort to replace those words with richer language. That’s how we evolve. I’ve learned this from watching how Reddit fosters healthy conversation. Our users refuse to let language, whether it’s words or memes, go stale.

Applying that to advertising right now, I’d say we should talk less about being “authentic” and talk more about being “human”. “Authentic” is a great example of a term I habitually say and hear in discussions quite a bit, oftentimes with a wince or a caveat. So let’s ditch it! I’ve started to replace it with “human”; to me, that’s a more precise, rich term for the same root idea while being a supposedly less sophisticated piece of vocabulary. That’s the good stuff.

Also, read Marshall McLuhan.


What’s next for Reddit?

Will: Reddit is waking up and finding that it is strong. The platform is modernized at long last and now the rest of the world can access the big secret. Our job (on my team anyway) is now to communicate that we’re open for business - and that our business is to drive Reddit’s larger mission to bring community and belonging to everyone.

We’ve gained a clearer vision on what makes this Reddit thing such a unique beast and now we know how to run with it. For instance, I’ve learned that unlike other social media platforms, Reddit is defined more by the spaces our users occupy than by the users’ identities themselves. How cool!

Where we are defines who we are. Whether it’s the place we call home, the event we bought tickets for, or the bar we’re dancing in. The spaces we inhabit affect our identity deeper than we may have yet considered. That’s not only a useful insight for Reddit, but it’s also a meaningful, refreshing way to look at the world. Reddit is a treasure trove of truth like that. Ultimately, that’s what we’ll be building our business on.

Matt: I’m focused on building out Reddit’s global agency practice. Reddit’s brand partnerships team has already done a lot of quality work with agencies over the past two years. And we’ve done a really good job of showing what’s possible with some of the biggest brands in the world: Coca-Cola, Toyota, McDonald’s, Amazon, etc. Now we’re at a point where we can be more intentional with our agency relationships and start forming longer-term partnerships. That means bringing additional resources to the table and exploring ways that agencies can leverage our data/insights, creative teams, trainings, etc. We are ultimately in the business of connecting brands with our communities in a meaningful and healthy manner. Agencies will often be the vehicle to drive those engagements.

 


Any closing thoughts?

Matt: As the industry continues to evolve, we will need more folks willing and able to grasp concepts from different angles, levels, and perspectives. I believe that the industry will increasingly seek out people from a wide variety of backgrounds. As the delivery and creative executions become more democratized, it boils value down to its simplest form: storytelling. More than ever, advertising will need diverse experiences, contextual awareness, value establishment, and a deep understanding of human nature. For me, that’s an exciting future.

Will: It’s vital for us to remember to focus on the end, not the means. Advertising is the means through which we send our messages. What is your message?

My message at Reddit is clear to me. It’s one of the company’s core values: “Remember The Human”.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Members  Reddit 

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Spotlight: Rochelle Webb, President and Chief Strategy Officer, The Dialectic Compound

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, April 18, 2018


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

I always knew that I wanted to be in the business of communicating with people. When I was in high school, I thought I would get into that through pictures, photography and visuals. While at Boston College, I figured out that I wanted it all. I became passionate about studying the strategy of advertising and marketing. In a very spontaneous move from Atlanta to L.A., I fell into the game of ‘knowing someone who knew someone’ that got me an entry level gig in a media agency and I never looked back.

I took some pivots here and there from media buying to PR to media strategy and then to global brand marketing. I wanted to be a generalist, so I could be a CMO of a big company one day. I wanted to speak everyone’s language, so that I could be a great leader of people and of a large-end organization, and I felt I had to walk the walk, so I could talk the talk. After falling in love with business, I realized the big company that I would end up running would be my own and that I was destined to be an entrepreneur. Building became my new ‘sexy’ and Fortune 500 was in the rearview. Ever since then, I have been writing my future to cater towards the goal of starting my own venture and utilizing the skills I gathered along my journey.

After 17 years on both agency and client side businesses and finishing business school in the midst of it all, I emerged as an entrepreneur with a heavy focus on marketing. Marketing and strategy are at the core of everything that I do and I don’t regret a single move that I have made along the way.  

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

Work smarter, not harder.

I think this applies to people and strategy development. As a human, you need to arrive in a situation, quickly assess it, and understand where your opportunities for collaboration and value-add lie. You should understand where you can learn the most, as well as, understand the areas that allow you the greatest amount of visibility to decision makers.

But, that is only a small part of the puzzle.

The larger part of navigating the industry chasm is to have the gravitas to understand how to socialize and operationalize your work. This is how you gain traction, earn respect and position yourself to elevate your career. You have to work your audience in a way that doesn’t feel forced, over-confident or entitled.

I have always been results oriented.

I chase success metrics. I have had the opportunity to work on powerful pieces of business in my career, so my motivation has always been in the success of those businesses and being able to clearly identify the areas where my team and I have been able to make an impact.

What excites you most about this industry?

The constant change in marketing and advertising literally gets me out of bed every day! Most people wake up to see what’s going on in politics, I want to know what is going on in marketing. If you blink, you may get left behind.

I am always amazed at the pace at which martech and adtech are moving on a minute-by-minute basis. There is an off the shelf solution for almost anything these days, so teams and brands can be in better command of their own destiny and work smarter. It raises two interesting questions that I have always asked myself… Is it possible to have a ‘successful’ in-house advertising agency in client-side businesses? And what will happen to the traditional agency model as technology plays a bigger role in business? But now, I no longer have to wonder, it is happening before my very eyes and it is exciting to watch.

People are re-inventing themselves and their roles. There is a fresh eagerness to learn in order to stay ahead of the curve. I just hope that hiring managers adopt the creativity to be able to look at today’s talent pool and re-imagine them in these new world roles. There is no longer the ‘perfect resume’… it now relies in the ‘perfect pitch’ for yourself and networking, networking, networking.

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

Advertising is heading towards a more automated future and human assets will begin to play a different type of strategic role. I think media planners will have to start asking themselves, ‘how can we use technology to outsmart our competition?” or “How can we partner more strategically with our media suppliers to provide better brand experience to our consumer?” or “What resources are out there to help us better anticipate the consumer’s needs and make a bigger impact with our brand assets?” Rather than, “how many impressions or clicks does it take to make an impact?”

I am eagerly awaiting the shift in industry where agencies ‘think differently’, as Steve Jobs rightly coined, and am watching today’s planners and strategists revise the future.

In the next five years, we will see leaner teams, but more of them. There will continue to be an evolution of innovation arms to help navigate this impending sea change. We don’t get through this guessing, we have to encourage the habit of being curious and becoming more predictive, so that we prepare our current mid-level managers to be the best leaders that they can be in the future and you do this by always seeking answers to new questions. Today’s mid-level managers need to have the willingness to continue rolling up their sleeves to get the work done. We don’t progress by harnessing ambivalence.

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals that are beginning their career?

Get in where you fit in… and where you don’t. It is important to quickly understand what you do well and lean into that, but more importantly, it is important to understand where you don’t fit in and determine why, and then understand how you can make it clear that you do fit. What I mean by that is that in professional situations, people tend to surround themselves by peers that look like them and very intentionally avoid the ‘agitators’ or people that often speak their mind and represent the unpopular point of view or ‘devil’s advocate’ perspective with the intent of driving innovation. People at the top sometimes see this as more work to invite this perspective into a meeting. But, you can insert yourself by using your intellect and professionalism to show people that the proof is in the pudding, and back it up by being solutions oriented. Bring the problem and the solution. When speaking, use facts, not generalizations. When listening, really listen and play it back, instead of waiting for your turn to speak.

What this doesn’t mean is walking into a company as an assistant media planner, walking into the Account Director’s office and demanding a raise and a promotion. What it does mean is when there is a problem to solve and the answer is not readily available, go to look for it, study it and present it back to the people that are responsible for solving the problem. Show initiative.

I often tell my mentees, “play bigger than you think you are… because than you are playing who you really are.”

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

The incredibly low percentage of women and minorities in leadership positions. I left agency-side advertising seven years ago to go client-side. And I left client-side corporate America to branch off on my own three years ago to start my own consultancy. I often attend conferences and seminars only to see a very monochromatic group of individuals. There is an adage or a stat that says, “people tend to surround themselves by people that look like them.” Okay, so I get it, there aren’t that many people in leadership that look like me, so how do I change it? I am a change-agent, so I don’t do well in stagnation, which is why I decided if my employers were not going to support my growth, then I have to invest in myself and start my own entity. I got an MBA and started my own company in an effort to stop working for other people. I am absolutely razor-focused on determining my own future success and supporting those that may not be the obvious choice. Those that look like me. 

Any closing thoughts?

I hope that this movement creates real momentum around changing the faces at the top and that we as a culture truly make a shift. I hope this is more than a movement of diversification, but diversity becomes reality. I promise to do my part, but I won’t lie… there are many moments in my day, every day, where I am dis-heartened by what I see. And there are situations that occur that cause me to reflect on my own career where I realize racism played a role, by people who I liked and respected and I thought felt the same about me. And that hurts. I don’t want to hurt anymore.

I stand for change, a brighter future and the rise of the underdog. There are enough powerhouses in the industry that if they continue to take the risks to make sure their voices are heard, that I believe we can turn the industry. I see hope with organizations like ThinkLA that make the conversation around diversity a priority. Using your mindshare to stand up for the under-represented means we have in fact taken a step in the right direction.

Thank you ThinkLA.

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The Dialectic Compound was born to incite immediate change in thriving businesses. It is a collaborative, curious and creative 'Think Tank' of highly seasoned business, marketing and operations executives who are curated from the wild.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG 

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Member Spotlight: Cynthia Pena, Account Executive, Marketing and Communications

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, April 11, 2018

 


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

I studied PR but I kind of fell into advertising. When I graduated, I was working weddings on the side, and a contact through there also worked in the ad world managing events and facilities. While working a month-long agency project under her, I ended up falling in love with the work and culture.

I stayed on in this hybrid role they created including facilities, reception, and barista. I ended up meeting a ton of people in the agency, (learned how to make bomb lattes) and within a few months, I easily transferred into their PR department. Ever since, I’ve always been involved in events in some capacity, but my main focus has been agency communications and marketing.

 

 

What excites you most about this industry?

The fact it’s always evolving. The ways brands are reaching consumers and joining conversations are never the same. When you see someone do it in a clever way and actually add value, it’s gold.

Why are you involved with ThinkLA?

It’s the perfect opportunity to not only meet and network with others throughout LA, but also to make a difference and impact the events in our industry. Even early in your career, you have a voice and opinions, ThinkLA lets you explore both.

What’s the best advice you’d give to someone interested in a career in advertising? Are there any written materials you suggest to read?

Find someone already doing what you want to do and ask for coffee or 10 minutes of their time. See what you can learn from them and how they got to where they are.

For reading materials: Read the trades! Know what’s going on in the industry, the trends, the changes. It’s all valuable.



Photos: Martin Aranda

 

Tags:  #Memb  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkMembers  Marketing  Member Spotlight  Members  Team One  Team One USA  ThinkLA  ThinkMembers 

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RPA's Cannes’ See It Be It

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

See It Be It, Leading From the Inside Out: takeaways from the RPA - hosted Cannes’ See It Be It event, an evening of inspiring conversation addressing gender imbalance in creative leadership.

 

 

1. Self care is essential

Part of being a leader is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Peers look up to leaders who take care of themselves.

  • “To lead from the inside-out, you must take care from the inside-out,” - Tahirah Edwards-Byfield, Senior Copywriter, Saatchi & Saatchi.
  • “Show up for yourself how you show up for everyone else,” - Tahirah Edwards-Byfield
  • “Self-care at its core is about finding things that will improve your state physically and emotionally and it’s so important in this state,” Chloe Gottlieb, Chief Creative Officer, R/GA US
  • “Boundaries are important. It’s okay to say no,” - Tahirah Edwards-Byfield
  • “It’s not about how much time you spend with your family. It’s how present you are when you are with them,” Chloe Gottlieb

2. Leaders should instill inspiration, not fear

You shouldn’t feel intimidated by a leader; you should feel awe-inspired. When you’re in the presence of a good leader, that is when ideas come to fruition.

  • “When a good leader walks into a room, people feel less full of fear and more full of possibility,” - Lauren Carlyle Smith, Creative Director, 72andSunny.
  • “If there’s an environment of respect where people feel safe, you can have really transformative conversations with people,” -  Chloe Gottlieb

3. Be a team player

We can do so much more when we work together. When women collaborate, everybody wins.

  • “’One team, one dream’, represents the coalition of women coming together. We are more powerful when we work together under one united mission,” - Isadora Chesler, VP/Director of Video Production, RPA.

4. Look at things with a fresh perspective

No matter what our titles are, we can all be creative. Look at each task with fresh eyes and approach it in a new and innovative way.

  • “From day one, I didn’t see the glass as half-full or half-empty. I wanted to redesign the glass,” - Chloe Gottlieb

5. Encourage and empower other women

As women, it’s essential we support each other and push each other to take risks. Don’t just find your voice, but encourage others to do the same.

  • “If women don’t see themselves as leaders, maybe the solution is simply telling them they are… If you think someone is doing a great job, tell them, because they just might need to hear it,” - Krystle Mullin, Associate Creative Director, RPA.
  • “#seeitbeit isn’t just about finding your confidence. It helped empower me to help others find their confidence,” -Carrie Dunn, Senior Writer, 72andSunny
  • “Do you know a hero? Tell her and then tell everyone,” - Krystle Mullin
  • “Jump. You have a soft pile of women to land on.” - Amina Halim

6. Believe in yourself

Don’t underestimate yourself; you are much stronger than you think. Find your voice and allow yourself to realize your full potential.

  • “Men will apply for a job when they are 60% qualified. Women will apply when they are 100% qualified…however, women underestimate their abilities by 30%, which means they won’t go after a job until they are 130% sure they are qualified!” - Carrie Dunn
  • “You have to find your inner voice before you can lead others,” - Chloe Gottlieb

7. You don’t need to be a bitch to be a leader

Don’t be a bitch; be bold, be brave, be a fearless leader.

  • “Women are naturally nurturing, good listeners…if you want to be a good leader, be more of a woman.” - Amina Halim

 

This passionate group of women led an evening of honest conversation aimed at enacting change in the advertising industry and in building a community of women who support each other and encourage diverse thoughts and opinions.

This article was originally published on Medium.

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  DIG  Gender  Women  Women in Advertising 

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Global Wednesday: April

Posted By Emily Hope, Thursday, April 5, 2018
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly, that are breaking the mold from the mundane. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S. and sometimes from brands that we've never even heard of!
 
These creative international ads are brought to you by Luis Camano, an award winning creative and an expert in the field of Brand Activation. 

 

1. Lacoste has created one of the best activations of the year. Brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness, generating a very strong emotional connection with consumers. The trifecta for any successful activation.

 

 

2. Old Spice continues to mock typical fragrance ads. In the latest issue of GQ, Old Spice included a scented, man-sized paper blazer. Trés chic, but watch out for rain, you will likely get paper machéd. Click on the the image below.

 

 

3. A suspicious pop-up with a twist. To announce the future opening of their NY store, DIESEL created this entertaining activation. That’s so New York!

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