Current gig Managing partner, chief digital officer at David&Goliath
Previous gig President and chief integration officer at JWT North America
Adweek: You're responsible for building the agency's digital practice. How are you doing that?
Mike Geiger: David&Goliath already has an amount of digital work coming in from most clients—I want to raise it to the next level. I've only been here six months, but I've already hired six or seven digital creatives. We started an analytics department. We hired a digital strategist [and] production people. We're starting a content studio because everyone talks about content. I'm also overseeing all of broadcast, print and studio production, so it's not just digital.
You've spent years working in digital at JWT and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. What's changed in the way that you get briefs?
Clients are definitely getting way more knowledgeable about digital. At the same time, it's tough to keep track of all the stuff coming out. A lot of times even the agencies don't know what to do. For example, Periscope. I know you can do something useful with it, but someone has to come up with it. I haven't seen it out there yet. When you see Snapchat, Periscope and all these things coming out, you really have to ask yourself, "What's good for my brand?"
David&Goliath was behind Kia's Super Bowl commercial this year with Pierce Brosnan. Are you planning any digital activations for next year?
We're already working on the Super Bowl spot for Kia. Digital has a heavy involvement, but we're trying to figure out the direction that we want to go. When you start planning in May and June, everyone is sticking their heads together to come up with a cool thing for the Super Bowl. It's not just a TV spot—that's the big challenge.
Why did you leave a high-level gig at JWT for David&Goliath?
I realized after a while that I was pretty distant from the work. It was more like running an office with a couple partners. One day I got a call from David&Goliath, and the founder David [Angelo] made a big impression on me. They're independent, somewhat of a boutique shop. To be honest, I hadn't heard much about them because they're fairly low profile, but then when I looked at all the work, I said, "That's interesting." I knew L.A. was booming. When you look at Deutsch and 72andSunny over the past three or four years, they've been doing really well and expanding rapidly. A lot of smaller shops and startups are around here, and some parts of Silicon Valley are moving [to L.A.].
Biggest buzzword that you're tired of?
Content. Agencies have been doing content for 40, 50, 60 years—a TV spot is content. And if you put a TV spot on YouTube, you have content. When I left JWT, there were a couple of people who said to me, "You should start a content company." That's when I realized clients want stuff cheaper and faster. It's great, but at the same time, it's a big buzzword. Even when agencies now say they're building a content division, it's not easy. Agencies are used to doing a certain type of work. It's hard to change a habit, but it can be done.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.