Original profile by Peter Sachs (MSJ06)
Talk to some people in advertising, and they’ll probably agree that most executives cannot balance artistic inspiration and business acumen. Dan Fietsam (MSA88), the chief creative officer of Laughlin Constable in Chicago, is one who can.
Formerly the chief creative officer at Energy BBDO, Fietsam credits Medill with giving him a holistic perspective on advertising, even before the creation of the IMC program, emphasizing management and business smarts in addition to creative chops.
Every day, Fietsam keeps tabs on Energy’s campaigns, including big ones like Bayer HealthCare and Dial, guiding the company’s creative strategy and making the most of marketing efforts in print, on TV, and on Facebook and Twitter.
“Social media has forced us to really think about how brands behave with their audience,” Fietsam says. “Obviously, brands have to be a lot more transparent now. They have to be willing to participate in conversations and not just put dumb taglines out there.”
Make no mistake, Fietsam says, social media is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean marketing and advertising teams should jump to those platforms first when working up a campaign. Those efforts only work if they fit with the client’s goals.
When the Art Institute of Chicago wanted to bring more Chicago residents through its doors last year, Fietsam helped create the Red Cube Project, distributing 500 8-inch cubes around the city. They were meant to be found, picked up, carried around and taken home.
Residents could follow instructions on the cubes to complete art projects, for instance, taking a picture of their cube at sunrise or relaying it to faraway places such as Hawaii and Italy. Then, participants could upload photos and leave comments on a custom social networking site for the Art Institute.
“That’s an example of what I’m most excited about in terms of finding where I think creative marketing and communications are going,” Fietsam says.