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The Innovators

Andre Woolery, Remen Wong, Shane Santiago
  • October 08 2012


Andre Woolery

Digital Synthesis Director | kbs+ The Media Kitchen


Don’t tell Andre Woolery to stick to his day job.

As digital synthesis director at kbs+ The Media Kitchen, Woolery can be found, say, designing mobile experiences to promote the latest Justin Bieber fragrance. Otherwise, he’s likely to be immersed in his Harlem art studio, where he recently produced acclaimed portraits of rap artists Jay Z and Kanye West composed entirely of colored thumbtacks (7,633 of them, to be exact).

Such versatility makes the 31-year-old immensely valuable in an agency world where the lines between strategy and creative are increasingly blurred. “I’m almost defining my role as I go,” he says. “I have a strong digital media background and I’ve always loved art and design. But the work I’m doing now is very strategic. It takes insights into the target, the channel, the technology and the behavior.”

Insights, for example, that inspired Woolery’s team to transform a client request to run a print ad for Bieber’s new fragrance, Someday, into an experiential marketing platform. Fans shared videos of themselves singing his song “Boyfriend”—changing the lyrics to “Girlfriend”—and it spread like wildfire. “One girl who wasn’t even the winner got 1.2 million views within a week,” he notes.

Today, Woolery continues to stretch his imagination through his art, which was recently featured in The New York Times. Having become proficient in oil painting, he challenged himself to experiment with new types of media—his thumbtack art materialized after he rejected using Froot Loops—which in retrospect provides a lesson in creative risk taking.

“When you’re developing things creatively in your own world, it gives you a lot more freedom—a lot more bravery,” Woolery says. “I can do whatever I want, and if I fail, I fail.”



Remen Wong

VP, Director Cross-Channel Integration and Implementation | Team Detroit


Remen Wong is an architect, of sorts. He builds advertising infrastructure, the complex code that is the foundation of Web analytics, optimization and measurement.

“I love technology. I love the challenge of understanding how something works and how to make it better,” says Wong, who is a leader in the digital analytics group at Team Detroit. “Social media and devices like tablets are transforming the way in which people are consuming content. Multichannel optimization allows us to understand this behavior so we can help our clients create a better user experience.”

At Team Detroit, the Texas A&M grad blends innovative thinking with a depth of understanding that lets him create the kinds of repeatable solutions that are the foundation of analytics. Within the company, he is cited for his development of a universal tracking pixel that combined disparate media into a single analytics solution, an approach that both improved tag management and sped up page load times for users.

While analytics and programming may seem like a solitary pursuit, Wong is seen as a gifted leader who inspires others within Team Detroit’s analytics group. “He works tirelessly and with remarkable patience to instill in the team the same problem-solving skills and curiosity that come naturally to him,” says Judi Helm, VP of digital analytics at Team Detroit.

Wong derives his inspiration from many sources. He credits his colleagues and the agency’s programs like Tech Tuesdays, where teams gather to digest news blogs and share information, with his ability to stay ahead of industry trends. Personally, his Indonesian heritage (he moved to the U.S. from Jakarta in 1988) has instilled in him the values of “doing your best” at every undertaking, he says.



Shane Santiago

President & Chief Creative Officer | SBS Studios


Shane Santiago is a digital storyteller. That’s how the 33-year-old sees SBS Studios, which he founded in 2008 in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL after starting his advertising career in Washington, DC.

“We’re not a tech company; we’re an ideas company,” says the AAF”s Most Promising Minority Student of 1999. “Technology should never be used as a crutch. You must harness it in order to develop a platform that enhances the brand story. We’re writing and rewriting those brand stories as we go.”

In recent years, Santiago’s knack for matching the ideal digital medium with a sharply crafted message has generated award-winning campaigns for brands such as Marriott International, Discovery Channel and the NBA. Lately, however, he is proudest of his work on a non-profit community arts-related project in his own backyard.

Last November, the downtown Jacksonville Florida Theatre enlisted SBS Studios to modernize its brand identity. Despite an iconic heritage and a diverse theater program, the theater wasn’t presenting itself well online. “The opportunity was to recognize that digital was how audiences were interfacing with their brand,” says Santiago.

Santiago’s creative team executed a logo and website redesign that balanced retro/artistic and contemporary. The new site is responsive to mobile devices, features social sharing and makes it easy to buy tickets. “There’s been a big spike in social media engagement, website traffic, ticket sales and donations,” says the ADDY award winner. “Two new donors came on board within the first 24 hours of the site going live.”

Success on a project of this nature is particularly gratifying to Santiago, who defines innovation as a way of merging the old with the new, telling brand stories and always moving forward with creativity. “Innovation is about seeking constant redefinition and opportunities to grow,” he says.