The New Toys: a creative director’s perspective on digital advertising

In early May, I read an Adweek creative feature on the first generation of iPad marketing efforts. As a believer that the iPad will revolutionize Print advertising, I was especially interested in the initial work and what creatives thought about the new medium (as well as all the other “new toys”). Lo and behold, in the lead paragraph of the article was an enlightening quote from Michael Ancevic, a Palma person and GCD at Mullen in Boston.  Here’s the article: Born-Again Ads

I first discovered Michael’s work in the old Print Design Annual in the late-90’s. His work was highly conceptual with a special design sense. He was just a kid at a little agency in Milwaukee but I could tell he had a great touch so I recruited him to a well-known creative power in San Francisco. He turned up at Mullen a few years thereafter.

When I read what Michael had to say in the Adweek story, I was anxious to get him to write more about it for He said, “We felt we were doing something that’s going to change everything. … It’s print on steroids.” I was curious as to what the best creatives had to say about the new tools. I wanted someone who is actually using the new tools well to give us their perspective. There’s so much crap in the blogosphere about digital and social — the Shaman and false prophets. Here’s a guy who’s doing it, and doing it well and here’s what he’s got to say:

The New Toys

by Michael Ancevic

“When Michael (Palma) asked me to write in this space on the new toys — by the “new toys”, we mean the plethora of digital assets now available to us as marketers and advertisers these days — I was so enthused that I am writing this post on my vacation. For me, these “toys” mean that we are living in an incredibly exciting time to be a creative person or a marketer because these amazing new channels are now available to us to create and market in.

I have thought about this subject a fair amount lately as it relates to creativity and to marketing and orchestrating brand experiences and communications. I can tell you this: as a creative, once you first get exposed to the new toys there is a bit of an overwhelming sensation that initially sets in…this is mostly because it’s NEW of course. Once you get used to that, there is another wave of fear because there is another new toy coming at you every few days once you are aware of them. But I can say that once you get past the initial fear and embrace and roll with all of them, it becomes very exciting. There is a continuous supply of new toys…learn to love this and get comfortable with it—as it turns out, the ability to continually embrace change is also one of the new toys.

I recently did a campaign launch that included the following mix: 3 ads on the much-anticipated first ever iPad issue of Wired Magazine, an augmented reality site (that we used traditional magazines to drive traffic to), Facebook engagement ads, online ads, a social media crowdsourcing platform, a YouTube channel upgrade, 60, 30, and 15 second national tv spots, magazine ads and pr blog outreach. This was a very exciting campaign to be a part of. In fact, when the iPad ad first came out last month, I felt like a junior creative who just had his first ad published in a magazine and was looking at it for the first time at Borders!

We have also done projects with many microsites, mobile WAP sites and a purely social media launches—this is all from a person who came from the “traditional” ad background mind you– and believe me, as a creative person, I could not have imagined this 5 years ago. Or even imagined how to think this way let alone be able to speak to clients with any sense of expertise or authority. But today, it gets my heart racing and I love it. I now look at advertising truly as a brand orchestrator, applying just the right amount of violin here, and cello there, with a mix or horns and drums occasionally with a whole host of additional instruments. Sometimes we even smash the instruments. It’s different every time. The fact is, that we can now reach audiences in so many different ways and reach audiences that are living in so many different places.

I hear a lot of people saying that you have to just be thinking in social media, or in digital these days…you even hear people who aren’t interested in the new toys at all saying that you should still just be thinking in TV and print. For me the new toys are part of a well-balanced media diet that we are carefully feeding to the consumer in a way that is strategically relevant and brand appropriate…it’s not all or nothing. Once you embrace this well-balanced diet thinking and go for the ride, you will find it to be not only unbelievably powerful but also unbelievably fun. The new marriage of media types and creative types is very exciting and I believe it’s critical to success today. Next time you sit down with a new creative brief, invite some new faces into the room. It might make you uncomfortable at first but just go for it, it will re-invigorate you and hopefully your clients will love you (even more) for it!

Turns out the new toys are actually incredibly powerful new tools! Go out and use them.”

Michael Ancevic is an SVP Group Creative Director at Mullen in Boston where he has helped shape the strategy and creative on many of the agency’s brands. He has also judged some shows and won some stuff along the way.

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