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Joe Alexander / The Martin Agency

Social media, Digital technologies, and the Agency of the future: how far will Internet Marketing go in changing our lives?

Abstract / Bio

In over 20 years, Joe worked as a copywriter and creative director at some of the best agencies in the World. He wrote the stories behind brands such as Nissan, The Minnesota Twins, Canadian Airlines, UPS, Wrangler, Mercedes-Benz, and many more.

Amongst all of his works, Joe is particularly proud of his contributions to the JFK and Obama campaigns.

He is currently Lead Creative Director on the Walmart, Living Social, PING, The American Cancer Society and The JFK Presidential Library Accounts.

His innovative and thought –provoking genius got him every major advertising award an AdMan can win, e.g. 17 One Show pencils, 5 Cannes Lions for his 2010 JFK Library Apollo 11 digital work (named the “most awarded ad campaign in the World” by creativity.com) and many more prizes.

Besides being a natural –born storyteller, Joe Alexander is also great at directing, working on Walmart, The American Cancer Society, PING and Pizza Hut.

Joe grew up in St. Paul, MN, one of nine kids to Jan and Ace Alexander. He started playing hockey at St. Cloud State University and has no intention to quit. He’s a Handicap 2 Golfer, and when he’s not mowing the lawn in his backyard he enjoys a good book and a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

He says with no hesitation that, to date, he couldn’t have been part of a better work than his three amazing daughters: Shannon, Mackenzie and Riley.

The Martin Agency

“It’s just a great time to ask “what if?” If we can think of it, we can do it.”

Here is the point of a world – class rule – breaker: Joe Alexander, Senior VP, Group Creative Director at The Martin Agency, (USA).

When was your first day in Advertising?

I started in Minneapolis at Donaldson’s department store in 1984 as a copywriter. I had no idea what I was doing.
What have been your best times since then? I think my best times are right now – today. It’s just a great time to ask “what if?”If we can think of it, we can do it.

What is the year’s most revolutionary work of digital advertising?

The Wilderness Downtown and Sour Mirror. Just awe struck by both. I didn’t recognize them – they were so new and unexpected.

What brand/category would you mostly like to work on? Why? 

Maybe a brand new technology account – introducing something brand new to the world.
What role does interactive advertising play in today’s social and political communications?If done right, it can be the most important because unlike print and TV, the user must participate. And that leads to more engagement.

How do you see your local clients leveraging the potential of interactive communication?

Most of our clients know the importance of interactive. The key is being their AOR for all creative platforms. When we are, we can create big agnostic ideas.

What does it take to know your target and elaborate its insights? How is this going to change in the future? 

There are really amazing tools to dig deep now. We like to look at experience path of our audiences – where and how do they interact with the product, service and media. There should be no guessing, now. It’s all right there for us to exploit.

Which vantages can small and large agencies seek thanks to the digital revolution?

It’s pretty democratic. Most bigger agencies have deeper pockets to buy the insights. But there’s no real advantage big or small.

If you had to break it down in percentages, how much time and money does your agency dedicate to:

• Strategic planning: The 3nd most time and money.
• Generating ideas: The most.
• Creative execution: 2nd most
• Technical execution: 4th most.

How will working be like 5 years from now? (team structure, agency, layout, media, etc.)

It’s going to always evolve with technology driving the change. How we use computers, but also what new social and networking tools arrive. All of it will change our physical, social and production structures.

It seems like tomorrow everything will be tracked, measured and assessed in terms of productivity and target group interaction: what is, then, the future of creativity?

I’m pretty optimistic. Measurement and tracking are always looked at as huge impediments to ideas. Why? It’s not the tools that are the problem. It’s a lack of courage and vision.

Will Copywriters and Art Directors still be seen as the Creative Professionals par excellence?

Yes. Emphatic, yes. Just like screenwriters, novelists, musicians, artists, poets, directors, playwrights all will continue to drive creativity and craft. I love creative technology and producers joining in the mix, too. They will help the writer and AD just blow open new doors.

Is there a new Agency position you would create from scratch? 

New titles are way over-rated. We are all in the business of thinking of and making stuff. We’re just trying to build a staff that isn’t stuck on making the same old thing. So hiring “hybrids” or “360s” is our goal. A bunch of Swiss Army Knives.

Just give a word of advice to tomorrow’s digital creatives.

“Do, don’t perfect.” That’s Facebook’s internal mantra. Just make stuff, explore new ways in, don’t spend a lot of time hemming and hawing. I’m not saying don’t pay attention to craft. What I’m saying is you will make a great career by showing initiative, being fast, getting stuff done. No one ever waited around for permission to break the rules.

The Martin Agency

The Martin Agency (headquarters in Richmond, Virginia) was founded in 1965 and was independently owned until 1986, when it started going through a number of acquisitions which brought it to eventually become part of The Interpublic Group in 1994.Years ago TMA “blended” their creative department, bringing together direct, digital, brand creative and strategy to nurture a unique sharing environment in which accountability, consumer interaction, big ideas, skillful executions becomes naturally flow in the same direction.As a consequence, The Martin Agency has become a worldwide benchmark for creativity and actionability in advertising.




Tell us what you think
1 Responses
  • nick August 6, 2011, 10:26 am

    Guys, this interview was awesome, just love the guy!

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