As vp of emerging experiences at digital shop Rain, Greg Hedges’ job is to stay abreast of up-and-coming technologies like AR, VR and voice and vet them for brands like Campbell’s, Starbucks and Walmart.
As Rain’s eighth hire in 2011—the agency now has 70 employees in New York, Utah and Nicaragua—Hedges has seen lots of tech come through the agency’s doors. After determining what’s viable for marketers to invest in, he helps build experiences that both brands and consumers love.
“We certainly want to explore and play, but at the same time we should be doing that in a way where we’re always thinking about how it can be applied in a practical sense,” Hedges explained.
Most recently, the explosion in voice technology has led to a big boom in business. Over the past year, the agency has created 30 voice experiences for brands including 1-800-Flowers, Tide and Yahoo Fantasy Football, collecting over 1 billion data points.
“It was one of those things where we started out taking apart the Echo in terms of what the capabilities were, what we could do with it,” Hedges said. “When we first got involved, there were only a handful of skills and now there are 15,000.”
Voice skills are still a bit of a bet since the devices are not quite mainstream yet and require both strategy and design—two areas that Hedges has spent his career specializing in.
Before joining Rain, Hedges worked for five years in graphic design before getting a master’s degree in new media at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.
“Everything I’ve been doing in my career has been trying to problem solve,” he said. “I’m always trying to fix things, figure out how they work and why people are interested in them.”
Vp of emerging experiences; director of strategy; experience and design director; senior developer and designer, Rain 2010 – present
Visiting professor, Syracuse University 2006 – 2010
Taught courses in graphic design at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Partner, ThreeOneFive 2006 – 2009
Founding member of startup firm.
Designer, King Features Syndicate 2001 – 2005
Designed licensing and PR materials for properties including Betty Boop and Popeye.
Job Profile At digital consultancy Rain, Hedges helps brands integrate emerging technologies like AR, VR and voice in their marketing strategies.
Why It Pays To Be Flexible “You come [into an agency] with a certain title, but [being flexible about your role] allows you to foster the things that you’re interested in exploring or the things that you feel are strongest. It allows you to really evolve,” said Hedges.
The Client Connection “You’re always trying to put yourself in the mindset of the people that you’re doing something for,” Hedges explained. “Whether that be a client or an end user, you’re trying to be empathetic to their needs.”
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