IQ News: Profile – King of All Media

iDeutsch’s Kevin Drew Davis believes in an integrated world.
Like many of us, Kevin Drew Davis has fallen into bad habits where computers are concerned. For one, he can’t seem to turn them off.
“I check my e-mail when I get up, and before I go to bed at night,” says Davis, who joined Deutsch’s interactive unit, iDeutsch, as creative director last month. He’s even e-ternalized his passion for songwriting, crafting digital tunes in the MIDI format on his home computer.
But if work has spawned an obsession of sorts, it extends beyond computer toys and gadgets. For Davis, the interactive world is more than clicks and banners.
“A lot of so-called ‘online people’ don’t pay attention to what’s going on in television, print, etc,” he says. “Consumers tend to not make that distinction. They listen to the radio, watch TV, log on, then read the newspaper. … It’s all part of their daily media consumption.”
Davis, 32, has always valued a mixed bag of influences. At college in the mid-’80s, he was a physics major and then a programmer who also loved music. His first employer, a shop in Boston, had him take on numerous jobs, from computer systems to creative. The experience, he says, taught him the true definition of multimedia.
“Interactive influences shouldn’t be limited to interactive work,” notes Davis. And that work, he adds, shouldn’t be built in a vacuum. “It has to all work together. Sometimes the answer to a marketing question is a print ad. It’s not always about ‘How can I build the coolest Web site?’ ”
Cool Web sites help, of course, and Davis has built some. In 1995, after stints at Dallas agencies GSD&M and The Richards Group, the Texas native joined New York interactive shop Blue Marble, now part of the MacManus Group. One of the company’s first creatives, he helped craft sites such as Procter & Gamble’s Sunny D scavenger hunt, which had users scour the Web for bottles of the drink. A $10,000 prize and biweekly media buys lured visitors, and an extensive database system kept track of them.
“It was tremendously ambitious for its time,” Davis says. “To this day, I still wonder how we pulled it off.”
Moving to Portland, Ore.-based Wieden & Kennedy in 1997, Davis worked for blue-chip clients including Calvin Klein and Microsoft. His work there included the breakthrough CK One e-mail campaign–which consisted of messages with a character-driven narrative designed to promote the Calvin Klein fragrance–and last summer’s Windows 98 banner campaign, which won a Gold Pencil at the One Show Interactive.
As top interactive dog at Wieden, Davis also got to spend a good deal of time in Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and elsewhere–experiences he says were invaluable. “It’s amazing how doing marketing in a country with a very different online demographic can completely alter your design sense,” he says. The disparate levels of Web penetration and sophistication across Europe, for instance, meant he had to juggle his designs to fit each market.
Of four-year-old iDeutsch, an 80-person unit split between New York and Marina del Rey, Calif., Davis says it is committed to the integration he values. “I kept running into smart people who immediately got it.”
As well as being a marketing philosophy, Deutsch’s integrated approach is also an office credo, which Davis says will help him keep current in the chaotic marketplace.
“People say, ‘Did you see that Web site?’ ‘Did you read that article?’ I don’t have singular responsibility for what’s going on.”
But he is in charge creatively, and may have to put his MIDI music career on hold as he leads the interactive charge for clients such as Ikea, Mitsubishi, Publishers Clearinghouse and BankOne. After taking part in a client presentation on his third day, he has no illusions about how quickly he’ll get his feet wet.
“My feet are soaked,” says Davis. “I’m wearing galoshes.”