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Interview with VP of Creative: The Role of Creative in a Retail Expert Agency

October 18, 2019 // By: Chuck Hasenauer

Advertising agencies have many moving parts, but the Creative team is always an important piece of the puzzle. At Stream Companies, Creative handles a range of tasks from scripting and copywriting to design, across traditional and digital media.

Our Creative team is one of the most dynamic and dexterous around! We want to peel back the curtain and show you what happens behind the scenes. See the role this department plays in our retail agency through the eyes of Dave Mazzoni, Stream’s Vice President of Creative.We sat down with Dave to learn more about his vision for Creative. He dishes on what Creative does, where it’s going, and how to best integrate it to be a valuable partner to clients. Learn how the team at Stream does it, in the words of the top brass!  

How would you frame the role of Creative in a fully integrated advertising agency like Stream? How does it make a mark across all channels of advertising?

Dave: To me, Creative is the key piece to building a recognizable brand for any company regardless of its industry. So for an integrated agency like Stream, Creative plays the role of developing and maintaining a brand story for our clients. Our creative philosophy hinges on three things: telling a great story (both internally within an organization and externally in the marketplace), being consistent with messaging across all mediums, and capitalizing on our clients unique strengths to establish unique selling propositions, all of which will separate them from the competition.

The Gist: Consistency is key—in fact, it’s the linchpin to a great story. Creative works best when it finds unique selling points and highlights them across media. Telling the same message on your website, TV ads, and the direct mail on the kitchen table makes your strategy more than the sum of its parts.

For years—decades, even—rumors of traditional advertising’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Where do you see the role of traditional marketing now and in the future?

Dave: I think that in recent years, we’ve certainly seen a shift in ad dollars toward tactical digital advertising strategies that easily validate their effectiveness with tanglible attribution. To me, that is the biggest knock against traditional media, especially from a TV/radio perspective. How does an advertiser know what they are getting out of their media buys? At the end of the day, traditional media will always have a place on ad budgets so long as the medium is used properly: as a tool to build high-level brand awareness within the marketplace. And from a direct response perspective, we are still seeing a high level of ROI/attribution on print and direct mail pieces. At the end of the day, it’s all about having the right mix and focusing ad dollars where they will be most effective in reaching the desired target market.

The Gist: Traditional media breathes still! It has a crucial role to play, so long as it’s focused and hammers home brand awareness. Mix it with the appropriate digital media, and you’ll build an unstoppable force.    

Customer data is more important than ever in advertising. What’s the most effective way to marry creativity with data to produce the results clients are looking for?

Dave: Personalization and relevenace. To me, those are the key components to effectively communicating with not only your customer base, but also your prospects. You need to make sure that the communication is relevant, that it answers the every important question of “what’s in it for me” that every consumer is subconsciously asking, all while staying consistent with your brand and brand story. The data itself is also extremely important, making sure the data is clean and as accurate as possible.

The Gist: It’s one thing to have your brand’s story on point. It’s quite another, though, to have it address customers’ and prospects’ needs in one fell swoop. Let well-gathered data guide and inform storytelling to show all parties how your narrative relates to them.

How do you tailor creative work to different industries/clients?

Dave: At Stream, one thing that really sets us apart is that we consider ourselves partners to our clients. From a creative perspective that means not always tearing down existing creative because we have the next big idea. Many times, it’s collaborating with a client to understand what makes them unique, helping them identify their strengths and differentiators within their market, and taking their brand story and company culture to the next level. There are definitely times where companies turn to us for a full brand image overhaul, and in those cases, as with our collaborations, we will conduct a creative competivie analysis of their top three to five competitors, discuss areas of opportunity, and ultimately go to market with a brand story and message that will set our clients apart.

The Gist: When it comes to creative work, it isn’t always about offering The Next Big Thing. Sometimes, it can be more relevant to tinker with existing elements. Find the story that already exists and reveal it in a way you’d always imagined but never saw before!

How do you keep creative strategy aligned with the brand strategy and goals of clients?

Dave: Planning. Planning. And more planning. For us, we want to make sure that our retail clients can focus on selling and servicing more products while retaining their customers. So planning is key, and so is establishing mutual KPIs with our clients. That way we all know how we are being measured and what success is. We like to have the creative strategy ironed out for the calendar year, or at least quarterly at minimum. This allows us to execute flawlessly and swiftly, while maintaining the ability to pivot if goals or opportunities change.

The Gist: There’s more to creativity than spur-of-the-moment inspiration. As with any other enterprise, it pays to set a plan early based on measurable performance indicators. The client and agency partner can agree on these and evaluate them together moving forward.

Many clients choose Stream to help with rebranding their business. Obviously, these can be the most transformative and rewarding projects to work on. Can you tell me about a project where you were especially proud of what Creative produced?

Dave: A project that comes to mind is helping Group1 Automotive launch their online vehicle platform, AcceleRide. It was very exciting to be given the opportunity to develop the branding campaign and advertising components for the AcceleRide initiative. We worked very closely with the client to develop the brand aesthetic, messaging, digital and print collateral, and online videos used to introduce the program to the marketplace. It has also received favorable coverage in Automotive News, and has been seemlesssly integrated among more than 200 delearships Group1 Automotive operates across the nation.

An Inside Look: AcceleRide is a next-generation platform that streamlines the car-shopping experience. It lets shoppers select and customize their car, find the right payment option, and schedule delivery entirely online. It’s a handy tool that puts control directly into customers’ hands.

Businesses need to create, tell, and sell their stories to their audience. Where does an agency partner fit in to this, and how does the Creative team at Stream optimize their role for maximum success?

Dave: Ultimately, an agency partner should always be proactively providing clients with ideas to help grow their brands and tell their brand stories across all mediums. Whether it be guerilla tactics via social media—including user generated video content, targeted video production pieces for their websites, or blogs/emails blasts/newsletters—or anything else.  At Stream, we look at it as our responsibility to constantly be giving our clients ideas as to how they can be taking their brand story to the next level and executing on these tactics.

The Gist: A great integrated advertising partner is always working proactively on your behalf. At Stream, we put you in the driver’s seat, but we also go above and beyond to guide you down a path of growth. If you don’t innovate, you will evaporate, and Creative is the best laboratory to test the boldest new ideas!

A Creative Partner for Your Enterprise

If you couldn’t tell already, a well-integrated Creative team is the magic dust that helps bring your brand to life. The team at Stream Companies is committed to being your strategic Creative partner—and don’t worry, you’re the first among equals!

We’ll listen to you and hear your story, so we can help tell it all the more clearly. Chat with us today and learn how we can animate your selling points and boost your relevance in your very own market!

Topics: retail traffic, interview, creative director