Bringing 30 years of global agency creative to digital marketing
Sean Kiener, Adept Marketing Creative Director, has a unique approach to uncovering big ideas. He asks what may seem like silly questions, but the answers reveal a world of possibilities.
From the very first moment we met Sean, we knew he was a perfect fit for Adept. He spent the last few decades in New York City helping global brands like Yoplait, Cheerios, Old Spice and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (the Crazy Squares campaign was his idea) connect with consumers in new and effective ways. Now, he's going to use everything he knows about brand creative to make digital marketing perform better.
Moving to Columbus from New York City is a homecoming for Sean. While his wife and three children are new to the area, Sean is a central Ohio native who graduated from Denison University with a degree in art. He also studied at Columbus College of Art and Design.
We're excited to welcome Sean to our team. To help our clients get to know Sean a little better, we asked him some questions.
What does creativity mean to you?
I don't know.
And now I'm gonna say some dumb stuff.
These two thoughts are a couple of the unsung heroes of smart, creative thinking because creativity is just problem-solving in new and unique ways.
"I don't know" is a genius place to start when problem-solving. Even if you think you know, pretend you don't. Ask all the questions; really listen to all the answers. To find out all the stuff. There's probably new info and data. Un-think and then re-think.
"I don't know" is the mindset that gets you to new thinking and new knowing.
Be not afraid to say all the dumb stuff out loud. Throwing out thought-starters, no matter how ridiculous they sound in your head, is essential to getting to a smart place. If creativity is a process of finding unique solutions, the path will be littered with half-baked notions, over-used tropes, and unusable ideas. In short, don't worry about quality control.
Voicing dumb ideas might spark an actual great idea from co-workers (or yourself.)
Can creativity and data-driven digital marketing co-exist?
Not only can they co-exist, but they also need to kinda love each other. Greater ability to use data leads to smarter strategies that lead to better creative, leading to engaged consumers. With Adept's expertise at using data to inform work and drive results, that virtuous circle can repeat on a loop, so we can better understand what's working and iterate to the most engaging and effective work.
Why is creative important to digital marketing?
The good news is that the ongoing explosion in technology and media has created many touchpoints for people to experience brands. That's also the bad news; there's a lot of stuff out there. So brands need to connect on an emotional level, be clear, and be passionate about what they offer. Good creative takes all the smart thinking and executes it to cut through all the blah. True for integrated TV campaigns. True for SEO, where good website copy, interesting blog posts, and PR in creative ways help boost a brand.
Whose creativity inspires you?
Early in my career, I worked for a short while at Saatchi & Saatchi's London office, and Paul Arden was a famous creative director there. He wrote a few fun-to-read and inspiring books on creativity. Give them a look.
I was lucky enough to work with Eric Silver for a bit in New York. He's a Great-Idea-Machine who was most interested in championing other peoples' ideas. All his stuff is pretty incredible.
I will listen to any history podcast. Most podcasters are very creative storytellers, of course.
How will your time in New York City influence your work in Ohio?
I got to know many really smart and interesting people in New York, so you get exposed to many ways of thinking. I worked with various clients, helped solve their problems, and learned multiple approaches. I'm hoping to bring some of my enthusiasm for unique and effective solutions and some approaches to get them.
My whole time in New York, I always (happily) felt like a guy from Ohio living in New York City. It's a place of extremes and daily wonder that I love and never got used to:
"Man, these buildings really are tall. Look at this incredible view."
"Wow, this subway car is totally packed. Oh. How are those ten people smooshing in?"
"Whoa, that garbage is amazingly smelly."
Now I may be perceived as a bit of a New Yorker living in Ohio. We'll see. I do wear a lot of black and talk too fast now.