I’m just a boy from the Jersey Shore, but these days I am usually found at my desk in the Manhattan headquarters of Ogilvy & Mather, the most legendary advertising agency in world, working on the next twist in a career that began back in 1990. How did that happen?
I’m glad you asked.
It all began innocently enough with a delightfully analog Jesuit education at the University of Scranton. A small communications department gave me a chance to get hands-on experience with video storytelling. Upon graduation, I was lucky to pick up production work with a local NJ cable news outlet. I hitched on as a sports feature audio guy with an old friend who was shooting feature packages for the NBA, NHL, SNN and others. For extra money, I shot and edited weddings. It was fun, but I knew I needed something different. With jobs still scarce, I headed back to school with the aforementioned writing dream.
The media practitioners at my new school, Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication digitized me. It was 1993, the Internet was new and I was well prepared for an industry that barely existed. That was fortuitous. The Newhouse School changed my life. I was honored with the New Channels Award for outstanding graduate student and eventually was inducted into the “wall of fame.” Later, I served on the inaugural Newhouse Network board of directors. I will always be grateful for my Newhouse experience.
Just as my time in Syracuse was ending, my hometown newspaper, the Asbury Park Press, joined the early push of print companies seeking to make a business in online news. These were the early days of the World Wide Web. I came on as a content producer, but was soon running the newsroom and design teams of the digital service, an ISP/content offering known as IN Jersey.
Even though we had great success, culminating with Gannett buying the entire operation, the idea of pixelating the painful decline of old media held little sway with me. I joined MTV Networks as Executive Producer of Convergence. There weren’t many of us who worked across MTV, VH-1 and Nickelodeon, but as an agent of changed tasked with bringing interactive thinking to the linear entertainment, I had the opportunity to experiment with all three. I was fortunate enough to launch world’s first interactive gameshow, MTV’s 1999 webRIOT. After launching “VH-1 at Work” online radio and several iTV pilots for VH-1 and Nickelodeon, I jumped to iTV start up Spiderdance and debuted interactive shows on NBC, TBS, History Channel and GSN before the stock market crash took down the industry.
While the economy got sorted out, I spent a year with Gartner, setting up their blogging strategy and running the web content for their CIO program. A call from an old TV friend routed me to Rainbow Media, the programming arm of Cablevision. As VP of Digital, I launched VOD services and revitalized the interactive businesses of the AMC, IFC and WE television networks, transitioning them from static web sites to dynamic content, commerce and advertising experiences.
Maybe it was launching Mad Men on AMC, but I woke up one morning in 2008 in the hallowed red halls of Ogilvy & Mather and I’m still there today serving as Executive Director of Content & Social at Ogilvy. I lead digital strategy for select global clients and run a handful of accounts. I founded both the OgilvyOne Content Marketing and Advanced Video Practices. My colleagues and I have been honored for our work with Cannes Lions, Effies and Echo awards of various metallic shades.
Update 11/1/15: I am happy to announce that I am the co-author of the new eBook on social communities and their rules of engagement for brands, “The Digital Social Contract.” Download a free PDF copy from http://www.slideshare.net/OgilvyWW/the-digital-social-contract-54664482.