Monday, June 15, 2009

Northern Fare

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
I’m Adrian Gunadi, a producer at TAXI Canada.

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?
My first brush with production actually started when I was in university. I remember sitting in a film pre-pro. This one girl jumped at the chance to be the producer. I was so surprised. I think I said something like, “Why would anyone want to be that?” Ahhh Jennie, I think you got the last laugh in the end.

My first seven years in the business were spent as a broadcast producer in Australia (Ogilvy) and Canada (BBDO). Gradually though, I became restless for more mixed media opportunities so I made the move to TAXI. The first thing they did was throw me on a year-long ecommerce project as the lead. Talk about baptism by fire. I will say this though, everything since has been comparatively easy.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
The most compelling advertising lies at the intersection of popular culture, business, non-commercial art, technology and social discourse. No one person can stay on top of all that. My solution? I try to surround myself with people who are much, much smarter than me in all those areas.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?

The dream would be an integrated project that has significance beyond advertising. Something that might still be relevant 10 years after launch. Projects like Tap Water, Million, Earth Hour and 15 Below.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Don’t baffle a marketer with jargon. Break everything down into its simplest elements. So many people forget that tech talk has to be dished out in small doses, like penicillin. Recognize when their faces go blank and their eyes glaze over - that's when you have to stop, because it's counter-productive to keep going.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
A Blue Shield project about how Californians are suffering in the absence of universal health coverage. Live stunts drove traffic to a microsite ( where users were invited to pass on a message to Congress. The core elements were linked by outdoor, live read and banner components. We launched at the height of the election race last year. In just 11 days, we smashed our yearly traffic estimate and pulled in over US$1.8 million in P.R. Almost 1,400 user petitions were sent by real people to the U.S. Speaker of the House. The whole thing was orchestrated by a small team of five creatives from mixed disciplines, working between our NY and Toronto offices.

On a personal level, I recently won a competition traditionally entered in by full creative teams. I recommend any producer to try something like this at least once in their career. I think there's tremendous value in learning first-hand what goes into concepting, writing, art directing, designing or coding a campaign. It can only make you a better producer. And recently I had a go at cobbling together my own site (, just for a lark. It was fun to play the client for once.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
Lombardi said it best: “We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.” Lack of time, not budget, is the biggest creative-killer. So my personal preference is to work on fewer projects, which in turn allows a more hands-on approach. Because of that attention to detail, I've done everything from building full creative decks, to writing copy decks in a pinch, to presenting finished work to clients when the rest of the team couldn't be there.

Q: What tools do you use to help you better organize your projects?
My brain and my tongue, mostly. Everything else depends on what kind of project we’re talking about.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
I prefer a team that is always changing. It doesn't help the end result if the same producer is always working with the same creative team because everyone falls into a rut. That's just human nature.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
Don't just focus on the written brief or what they tell you verbally. Sometimes it's the stuff that they don't say which is more important.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Digital advertising has to be functional to make a lasting impact. Look at what people are using: iPhones, iPods, Google maps, Facebook, RSS readers, email, Wikipedia, Nike Run, Wii Fit, PVR, Amazon recommendations, Skype. They all have one thing in common: each technology added a new dimension to people’s daily lives. Advertising has to match that level of service or become obsolete.

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

On any given project, a producer has to figure out what’s best for the project; what’s best for the creative team; what’s best for the client; what’s best for the agency; what’s best for themselves. How good a producer you are ultimately depends on how you stack these goals.

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