Point of View: New Business
In a few words, can you tell us who you are what your job title is?
Sam Ewen, Director of New Business Development at Fake Love | The New York Times.
Did you have a dream job as a child, and if so, what was it?
When I was growing up, I wanted to write the next great American novel. I had just read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and I thought that telling stories was the coolest thing there was. In some ways I still get to do that, but on behalf of brands.
What are you most proud of recently in your professional life?
I have done some amazing work in my career, had some of the coolest clients and worked with such talented people, it has truly been outstanding. I have created an 80 foot shark at the bottom of the wave pool at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for Discovery Channel, had a giant Roman procession stop traffic in Times Square for HBO and had over 50 people a second tweeting to NARS to break open a giant sphere and win what was inside. This is a fun job.
If there was one aspect of the industry that you would change, what would it be?
I think the industry is evolving very quickly and there are more people thinking experientially than ever, but I do think that not enough ask why they are doing something. Any experience needs to answer the question ‘why this matters to my audience’ and ‘what business problem is it solving,’ not just if it looks good on Instagram.
Did you have a mentor at one point in your life and how did that person help guide you?
I have had many mentors both personally and professionally and also have mentored myself which I consider an honor to do. Early on, I would say Steve Harty of Merkley Newman Harty (an Omnicom agency) played a very important role for me. He gave me an early break when he helped incubate my first solo venture. We would meet and discuss business and how to look at creativity for clients and most importantly in our discussions, ,I learned how to be a leader as we tackled problems I was having.
What is your outlet outside of work that keeps you motivated?
Outside of work I spend a lot of time with my daughter and we do amazing things. Whether artistic creation, food focused or exposure to music and theater, it is such an important part of my life. I also get to observe how another generation consumes and creates media, which greatly influences my work.
If you had a chance to be President or King for a day and can enact any rule into law, what would it be?
If I were president and could enact any law, it would for sure be related to traffic. I live in NYC and the constant traffic (cars, pedestrians, cycles, etc.) makes navigating this city truly frustrating. I think a sensible and organized way to get people from point A to point B, without the congestion feels like nirvana.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for brands in reaching consumers in the next five years?
Consumers are more discerning about the media they consume, the content they share and the experiences they spend their time going to. All three will need to closer align to their personal values and combine elements of entertainment, education, inspiration and community. Those that do it well will succeed.
What word would you use to best describe your office culture?
Our office culture is collaborative. We have fine artists sitting next to programmers. Business thinkers connecting with motion designers. It is a practical example of the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
What would you say was your biggest challenge in maintaining a successful client relationship?
The biggest challenge in maintaining a successful client relationship is knowing that while you may be amazing at your job, your client always knows more about their specific industry. It is the imperative to listen to their needs first and then apply your offering and services as an answer to a problem. When you take the approach of ‘we know better,’ you strain the relationship dynamic.