Greg Johnson, vice president and creative director of Digitas
As the Internet continually changes the rules of the advertising game, Greg Johnson (MBA '05) spends a lot of time figuring out innovative ways to make room for companies on sites like MySpace and YouTube. He has served as vice president and creative director of Digitas, one of the nation's largest interactive ad agencies, since graduating from Tech two years ago.
When exploring advertising opportunities in the new online frontier of marketing programs that build relationships through genuine interactivity, Johnson must ask questions like: "How do we earn the attention of our consumers, and then keep them engaged? Or, how do we participate in their space rather than just relying on interruption to try and bring them into ours?"
Now more than ever, content is the key to marketing success in the digital age, Johnson explains. "The most valuable things people are looking for are experiences that are both fun and functional. The technology actually allows us to craft these rich, immersive experiences that service the needs of the consumer while being entertaining at the same time," he says.
In his job creating digitally-focused brand experience programs, Johnson is at the center of the revolution sweeping the advertising industry. "Instead of ad campaigns, we're creating syndication and distribution schemes for content, using such methods as video on-demand (VOD) and mobile entertainment. But another key trend is the move toward customer control.
"Marketers aren't in control anymore. The mute button is on and customers are tuning out everything they don't want to hear. It's most notable in broadcast advertising where technology like TiVO allows for one-button commercial skipping. A boon for consumers is a real problem for traditional marketers. We know that the 30-second TV spot is no longer effective enough to warrant its cost. And so new platforms—like digital, mobile and social networks—get to move from a sideshow of the marketing mix to much more center stage. Mobile devices, in particular, are the new big platform."
For Digitas, Johnson creates campaigns and promotional ideas that get his clients the best return on their marketing investment, while overseeing teams of associate creative directors, visual and interaction designers, copywriters, programmers and motion and sound design specialists. Their recent projects include building a music platform called The Craft for Miller Genuine Draft, a promotional campaign for Miller Lite starring Mad Mike of MTV's "Pimp My Ride," the creation of a music platform for Nokia, and a new system for getting online auto insurance quotes for Allstate.
While he lives in Chicago, Johnson frequently travels to Los Angeles and New York to work with entertainment talent, staying hip to performers poised to make it big in the next year. He says his role requires a "potpourri of different skills, from strategy to design and technology. Most of all, it's about ideas."
Gaining the confidence and ability to articulate those ideas and explain strategy to clients were major benefits of his MBA education, he says. Though he'd previously worked in creative leadership for several companies, his MBA has enabled him to take on greater responsibility and to connect the marketing programs to measurable and accountable marketing results, he says.
"Gone are the days when bright shiny objects were enough to get the client excited. We now live in a world where everything we produce is accountable for impacting the bottom line. And without the robust business education gained from the Business School at Georgia Tech, there was no real way for me to understand the true impact of my work."
A native of San Francisco, Johnson considered several top MBA programs and chose Georgia Tech's because of it had the quality of a large program coupled with the intimacy of a small program . "I felt like I could be a part of it all; I wouldn't just be a number, and I certainly wouldn't sacrifice anything in terms of quality" says Johnson, who served as 2004-05 president of Graduate Students in Management for the business school. "This was a great opportunity to get to know everybody well and build relationships that I carry with me to this day. We live in a world where relationships make all the difference."
Director of Communications
Assistant Director of Communications