By Adrienne Mand
Jonathan Anastas has gone from rebel punk rocker to maverick Internet geek to the unlikely role of industry curmudgeon, all by the age of 32. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Anastas, now vice president, account director, at Think New Ideas, Los Angeles, played bass in hardcore bands Slapshot and DYS before heading to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied political science and economics.
His involvement with campus political campaigns for others and as student attorney general sparked an interest in advertising, and Anastas honed his skills in the media and client services departments of Mullen Advertising in Wenham, Mass., for three years, an agency that he describes as having “unbelievable mentoring.”
Anastas moved on to DDB Needham in New York and then to director of interactive marketing at Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, where he worked on the Toyota account when the automaker first started to use the Internet. “Saatchi assigned people to the business and we learned together,” he recalls. “It was always steeped in the integrated experience.”
Seeking a career with an agency that was more focused on the Web, Anastas took the post of vice president, director of marketing and client service at Digital Evolution–now merged with US Interactive–in 1997. It was there that he came to the radical conclusion that the focus on the coolness of the Internet caused marketing concepts to get lost.
“I’m in love with brands and I’m in love with building brands,” he explains. “And ultimately I see interactive as an available tool in building brands, but I’m in love with the toolbox.”
Anastas landed at Think, which combines off- and online marketing disciplines, last year and continues to stress basic marketing and advertising tenets. He believes the agency has “real world” marketing expertise that is novel in an industry with “28-year-old CEOs.”
“If I’m a client, I’m not sure I want to sit across the table from a child, [no matter] how well he knows the technology,” he says.
He believes that regardless of the medium, advertising and marketing is still about creating emotional hooks for clients. But such a realization has been slow to come to the Web. “The creative has often been secondary to the cool code behind it,” he says. “You’ve got to get to people’s hearts to get to their minds.”
Thus, Anastas predicts that “the segment is going to redefine itself.
“Right now the segment is defined by the medium–interactive agencies or solution providers–because we know the technology. It may refocus on the core competency level … the job is to build your brand.”
But lest one think Anastas has gone soft, note his favorite mode of transport–a Harley Davidson.