What is your role at tag?
As founder and Chief Creative Officer at tag, my role is all encompassing. Outside of leading the creative team, I ensure that the agency and all of our departments are operating effectively on all cylinders. Essentially, I influence the entire output of the agency, from every discipline, with a focus on strategy and creativity.
How did you decide to pursue a career in advertising, and specifically in the creative field?
I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life. My Grade 4 yearbook states that I wanted to work in “Commercial Arts”. As a child, I found ways to influence friends on our street into creating carnivals, go-carts, street festivals, elaborate imaginary worlds and even a short film. So, combining my creative instincts and ability to influence, along with an entrepreneurial spirit, the natural direction for my life became quite clear.
You started tag with your brother Matt Orlando over 20 years ago. How has the agency evolved over the last 2 decades?
We started purely as a design house. Over the years, the mandate of integration has shaped the agency. In order to meet our clients’ objectives, we evolved to fully embrace strategy and communications planning as a whole. But it didn’t stop there. We were one of the earliest agencies to have digital in-house, and we’ve continued to bring both traditional and emerging disciplines under one roof – social media, content development, media planning and buying, etc.
It’s critical to appreciate that there is an intimacy required in how all the channels interact with each other and understand at what stage each one should have prominence. You can’t have a good social program without a good content marketing strategy. You can’t have a good content marketing strategy without an informed paid outreach program. And likewise, you can’t have a have a successful paid advertising program without a solid brand strategy. All these things are deeply interconnected and must work in harmony.
What differentiates tag from other agencies?
Truthology™, our propriety brand building, communications planning and campaign execution platform is what makes us unique. We literally combed the planet for best-in-class platforms. We studied, participated in and investigated platforms that existed around the world, extracted the best of the best and made it our own. Of course, I’m biased when I say our platform is incredible, but the culture that surrounds our agency and the people within it, is what really makes the platform sing.
I should also add that people really like to work with us. We never treat business like a vendor-buyer relationship. Beyond the cliché of partnership, our team is always thinking from the perspective of our clients – how do we shift perceptions, how do we improve sales, how do we increase awareness…whatever the client objective is. It’s never about us and them, It’s always about the collective us, a shared objective, and not just a vendor agreement.
What’s been the biggest creative challenge in your career to date?
Influencing clients to the point where they are comfortable with something that initially made them uncomfortable. At tag, we like to redefine the value of risk. What is risk? It’s not doing the same thing over and over again. There are many marketers who are averse to doing something different. My biggest challenge – and heartache – is not seeing extraordinary ideas that are backed by solid strategy come to fruition, knowing that it would have really moved the needle.
What’s the boldest risk you’ve taken with a campaign idea?
It’s less about being bold, but rather about doing something unexpected that is firmly rooted in smart strategy. One of the campaigns we executed was a contest-based promotional program that was targeted to a younger, male demographic. The category and audience research we conducted led us to offer a unique prize. Rather than the typical money, car, or trip prizes, we decided to gift the winner a custom bust of themselves showcasing their unique groomed look (the client was a male grooming brand.) The campaign satisfied the whims and egos of our target audience and was ultimately very successful.
Your most important client doesn’t like the work you present. What do you do?
That’s virtually impossible. And my answer isn’t driven by ego – it’s driven by the way we approach the business. We lead with a strategy-first mentality and we ensure that the issue, objectives and audience profiles are so well defined that when creative is presented, the natural response is ‘of course that’s the answer.’ The setup of the work makes the creative solution irrefutable.
How are technology trends shaping the future of communication?
Emerging technologies enable us to micro-target like never before. Through programmatic or the algorithms of predictive targeting for example, we can serve up content that is relevant to consumers at the right time in their buyer journey. Beyond that, once we have that initial interest, we are always thinking about what we can offer consumers next that will keep them engaged from awareness to consideration, to evaluation right through to purchase and loyalty.
What emerging trend in advertising are you most excited about and why?
Exciting spaces are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). There’s a lot of chatter about these platforms, but few brands that are actually taking action and I believe we are ahead of the game.
What is the difference between a good Creative Director and an outstanding Creative Director?
A good Creative Director will continue to mentor creatives, generate great ideas and help to grow the potential of the team.
An outstanding Creative Director creates desire, emotion and an essence or feeling about why a consumer desires a product, service or experience. He/she has an immense appreciation and ability to create and act upon strategy and insight, and work with the team to co-create campaigns and not just be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ man to ideas that are brought forward. Similar to the integrated agency, a Creative Director must also understand and appreciate strategy, digital, social, experiential, and so on.
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