Monday, March 2, 2009

Digital Director

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
My name is Yahav Isak and I am the Director of Digital Production at JWT. JWT ranks as the largest advertising agency brand in the United States and as the fourth-largest full-service network in the world. Its parent company is WPP. I oversee the production and development teams and was given the task of helping bring digital to the forefront of the agency. As the Director of Digital Production, I’m constantly researching new and innovative ideas/technologies to present back to JWT's clients and our internal teams.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
Interactive producers and producers in general are about finding solutions to get things done. Finding a way to deliver the end product without compromising. We’re all aware of the triangle: Money | Quality | Speed. However, there are many more variables a producer needs to consider while running a project. The typical end product is never one final item (i.e. DVD or a printed page). A producer will deliver X different ads in Y different sizes, a rich media unit, a site, a video, a widget, a blog, a… Great producers can keep up with all the moving parts/details and sync all of them to deliver on time.

I got into the digital space in the mid 90’s as a web programmer/developer. While I enjoy programming to this day, I realized that my strength was in production. Overseeing the full creative and development cycles and lead production teams allows me to increase efficiencies and push innovation.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
This is both the most stressful part of my job and the most fun. I learned to listen to the young guys; they are fully wired and fully integrated. I always hire attitude over skills! People with the right attitude and will, carry you further than the most experienced producer in the long run.

In addition, we always welcome new and groundbreaking groups to present their capabilities to JWT. When we do, all disciplines are invited to come and listen. We have very strong integration at JWT between broadcast, print and digital.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
The ideal would be for me and my producers to have full control over the time line, technology and budget… ok that is my fantasy project . The ideal is to have the right strategy and resources from the get go. I strongly believe that the way you scope and start a project is a very strong indicator as to how the project will flow. The more communication and trust we have between all parties, the greater the delivery of a stellar product.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?

Every client is different. Some have a very strong understanding of the medium/technology and they expect us to push the envelope for them. Then, the education works both ways in the form of brainstorming. Other clients are locked into their 30 sec TV spots and it is up to us to show how our own capabilities and understanding of digital integration can be a key component of their marketing strategy.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
That’s a very hard question since we have so many ongoing projects with different clients at JWT. However, without getting into a specific client, the best projects are the integrated ones. Campaigns that leverage assets from all mediums (broadcast, print, events, and digital). It enables us to have a clear competitive advantage and be creative with the executions. The best part is that we are sending a unified message (same voice, same creative) to the users via the different mediums.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
It’s a combination of the type/size of projects, with the overall time lines. In general, it’s up to 2 big ones, or 3-5 medium/small.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
JWT is the second place I have had the opportunity to build one. I think I mentioned earlier that I always hire attitude over skills, and there are two main reasons for that:
A. They need to be able to interact with so many teams and clients at many different levels. I try to cultivate producers who are able to communicate bad news while motivating their teams at the same time. With the wrong attitude, no matter how great you are, that is not going to work.
B. We spend MANY hours at work. I want to be able to come to work and enjoy the people I work with. Moreover, I want to be able to learn from each and everyone of them.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?

It is paramount to gain the client's trust. With transparency, we can achieve partnership and work together on creating the desired brand. I’m also a big advocate of thorough strategy where both the agency and client are aligned on the brief and objectives. That translates to better collaboration and better final results.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Like many others, I’m still waiting for mobile to catch on. Regardless, I believe that user generated content will continue to lead. It may be in new formats than today but the premise will remain the same. For advertising, it’s a way of making the users an integral part of campaigns and evangelists of the brand.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.

I always tell my producers that we are all about creative solutions. It’s about how fast we can adjust and keep moving the project from point A to point B. On the development side, I am a big advocate of creating a symbiotic match between innovative technologies/tools and the brand.

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