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Aside from my love of documentaries focused on the creative industry…I LOVE conversations and commentary around the purpose and utility of the Creative Brief.

I always have.

People in advertising get stuck on “truths” and end up complicating briefs. Shocker. I have always approached the creative brief by simplifying the complex and igniting a customer desire through “flexible limitations & invitations” (also mentioned in this video). Not too prescriptive and not blue sky. Gives the creative team room to explore.

I invite you to watch Briefly. (video embed below) What makes this video special is the intersection of 3 industry perspectives: advertising, architecture and technology.


“The end goal of Briefly is to help inform and inspire future generations of collaborators to write better briefs and manage the briefing process differently in order to help lead to exceptional creative results.”

The interviews with Frank Gehry (Founder Gehry Partner), Yves Béhar (CEO fuseproject), Maira Kalman (Illustrator), John C Jay (President @ GX, Partner @ Wieden + Kennedy), David Rockwell (CEO Rockwell Group), and John Boiler (CEO 72andSunny) and funny, smart and thought provoking.

If you work in a creative or strategic field, this is best 27 minutes you’ll spend today. Guaranteed.

and honestly- who doesn’t love Frank Gehry? #legend

Shoutout to my ECD, Carl for sharing this with me.


What a year it’s been.

Last June I started doing some soul searching into what was next for me, redefining who I was professionally and personally. I was fortunate to have worked through the digital turbulence of 2009- 2012 when agencies and brands focused on defining and honing their “digital” acumen and capability.

I call it the GDP (Great Digital Pivot).

be the change


I defined the last agency role I held based on a market demand—Digital Strategy & Innovation. I am grateful that my old agency offered me that opportunity. It was a great experience in true innovation. Building something out of nothing. Peaks and valleys, trial & error, triumphs & tribulations you name it, I had front row seats to it all.  Some people jumped in head first, others floated behind expecting you to take the lead…completely expected when you’re establishing a new capability within an organization and industry that didn’t have it before.

It felt great to be in demand, be needed, be seen and highlighted as the “expert” in all things digital and technology focused. I mumbled paid, owned, earned, user experience, cloud, native, API, wireframes, UI, media, social, mobile in my sleep- what?!

  • Did I define a product MVPs, prototype and build technology platforms? Yes.
  • Did I evaluate the strength and utility of emerging technology platforms? Yes.
  • Did I establish the strategy & marketing for a startup and launch a product on Indiegogo and manage media relations? Yes.
  • Did I wireframe mobile and social experiences? Yes.
  • Did I write POVs on top level domain names structures? Yes.
  • Did i pitch every digital RFP that landed on my desk? Yes.
  • Did I develop a social engagement & content strategies for brands? Yes.
  • Did I identify digital trends and opportunities for clients? Yes.

It was sometimes difficult to explain my role with brevity- which I tried to do here and failed miserably. It was different everyday.

In one sentence:  If traditional account planners had a void of digital insights, digital strategists used a behavioral and technographic lens and applied a very thick layer to activate the brand strategy. I get it now, it was the GDP!


But I never lost sight of the core strategic process. Insights that defined why we should do something.

That was always my focus and MAIN INTEREST (even during my years in client services- ask my friend Claire about the messaging strategy I led for a brand in 2009). Establishing a strategic positioning, branding and marketing comm plans for a brand? Yes? LOVE it- it’s the most motivating, stimulating and satisfying.

I thank my friend and colleague Julie for sharing her brilliance, framework and thought process. She taught me how to apply rigor, methodology and clarity to the entire range of strategic planning: problem definition to analysis, recommendation and the development of implementation and creative execution plans. How to use the right research to identify common themes, not to boil the ocean. I LOVE working through those exercises.

After 4 years in a digital strategy & innovation role, I worked with my professional coach to set goals to figure out how I could focus in on 1-2 things and be great at them (vs. being accountable and responsible to be everything to everyone, a side effect of the last role I held). If you’ve ever seen a raci model- every box was checked for me on every project—sometimes a lose-lose situation. GDP! But I learned A LOT.

keep it real

12 months later; post-personal SWOTs & sunrise sweat sessions

Having my own consultancy  for the last 12 months has been one of the best learning opportunities I’ve ever had. I learned how to run a business. I’ve had exposure to new and diverse companies, people and experiences. I’ve run multiple research initiatives that resulted in meaningful & actionable brand, corporate and product development strategies and I enjoyed the work immensely. BUT, having your own consultancy is worlds away from agency life or a normal “corporate” environment.

Top 8 lessons I learned this past year:

  1. I do not like working alone.
  2. I perform best on 8hrs of sleep a night, & work smarter to allow myself rest!
  3. The *right* research will uncover insights to help define a strategy. That is what I enjoy the most.
  4. Startups are exciting, exhausting, frustrating and the best learning environment. An experience that everyone should take part in (even if it’s an intrapreneurial opportunity).
  5. There are myriad tips and efficiencies any company can learn from the lean business model and start-up approach
  6. Flexibility is nice, but discipline is 10x harder without structure & stability.
  7. Nothing tops collaborating with GREAT, genuine people.
  8. Passion is personal.

During SXSW this past year, my friend Larry gave me good advice “focus on 1 thing, 1 industry and be great at it.” I took that to heart.

So I’m focusing on strategy b/c I’m great at it and I enjoy that the most. I like so many industries it’s hard to pick one and I don’t think I need to. Strategy is strategy- you’re trying to solve a problem- period. The approach doesn’t change, just the context. It’s always been important to me to keep it fresh and interesting to work across multiple industries, which is what I’ve done over the least 3 years (technology, hardware, CPG, beauty, design services, corporate, healthtech and healthcare).

chapter 7

Chapter 7

Today I start my next professional chapter and role as Chief Strategy Officer with MWW and I’m beyond excited. I’ll have oversite of the strategic planning function, research, insights and analytics and oversee marketing communication strategies and programs across all practices and locations within MWW.  I’ll also partner with creative leadership to turn insights and strategy into meaningful marketing experiences and execution.

They are a forward thinking organization, with strong leadership, fantabulous people/talent, impressive accolades and a diverse client base. Their tagline is “Matter More”. They believe in relevance over everything else. Could that be more strategic in nature?

I will never lose my curiosity and acumen for all things techxy and digilicious- but they’re now in a supporting role. (Small caveat: I still believe in side projects and 100% sanction this POV from Spotify’s head of design on that topic.)

That’s my (professional) passion. And it’s personal.

Whatever you are passionate about, professionally or personally- I encourage you to follow it. Take a ride; sometimes the detours have the best view.

bike ride




Will social agencies become media buyers or will media agencies learn social content strategy?

I literally have been talking about this for over a year and people thought I was crazy.

I distinctly remember sitting on the beach in Montauk last summer discussing this topic with one of my friends (who also works in the social space, and she agreed with me) I said— “Every algorithmic change Facebook has made over the last year has decreased the organic reach for brands and indicator this will continue to happen. When will people realize that a community manager’s current role is not sustainable unless they are trained as media buyers.”


Jan you dont have any friends

Everyone is talking about how Facebook’s drop in organic reach has changed the social game to a pay to play market.  Facebook Facebook Facebook . The thing is Facebook is NOT the only social platform on the planet—its just the biggest, everyone’s most popular pretty blue default platform. Brands can’t reach “their” consumer audiences anymore (audiences are  essentially rented via the platform they engaged with them on—they don’t “own “ them or have access to them outside of that platform.)

A lot of brands have reacted to the news and stepped forward saying they’re “diversifying their marketing strategy more by putting an emphasis on their owned websites instead”. Note- the strategist inside me wishes they had said “we saw equal or increased traffic/activity on our owned website and that has prompted us to refocus on that” Just sayin. Analytics don’t lie and should inform your choices.

Whatever it takes for the wakeup call to happen. But the thing is this. Facebook is not the only social platform your audiences are on…. with a paid ad component. Social marketing, regardless of the platform, requires investment not only in creating and posting content for a specific platform specs, but also to attract and sustain an audience. That is a fact.

Twitter also has a VERY robust ad product which I used for the Birdi Indiegogo campaign and actually outperformed other paid social campaigns we ran. (Inbox me for more detail on that if you want.)

Pinterest also has an ad product (a buy more expensive than the average 1 bedroom apt in NYC but who’s counting really?)

As does Instagram—(THANK god it’s heavily regulated against bad spamvertising) and Forrester just reported Instagram has the highest engagement of any social platform (Instagram engagement rate is 4.21% – ie: Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.) Important to note—“engagement” (always subjective depending on your criteria) is great and all—but truth be told it is much harder to place or track a CTA from Instagram so I understand the initial hesitation from brands beyond awareness—time to challenge your strategists and creative teams!


Adapting. A never ending game

The more social platforms move to a paid model- the current roles/skills on our teams will need to adapt. The focus as of late has been an majority voice—social agencies need to mature. Makes sense.

Digiday said it perfectly today: “Social agencies — digital agencies that focus on advertising on the social Web — are arguably the most affected by these changes. When your business model is predicated on delivering results via social platforms, and the largest social platform changes how it treats ads, the only option is to adapt. Specifically, social agencies are being forced to mature into shops that combine research, media buying and higher quality creative work.”

Check. 360i, Deep Focus and Likeable Media are probably retooling their staffing plans/FTEs right now. But what about Brand teams that have internal social teams and community managers—what now? What do they do?

Social content posted by brand community managers will eventually become “paid” media—so we are effectively, finally putting the MEDIA into social. Ha.

Case in point:

  • Do community managers have media buying experience, capabilities, do they have budgets for media spend? Probably not.
    (Most of those “media” budgets are held by media buying teams)
  • Do media buying teams understand social content strategies, conversations and relationships? Probably not.


Possible solutions

An intersection of 3 disciplines will make this work.  Disciplines with complementary skills that all contribute to social success.

 social media trifecta

I don’t think this hybrid model yet exists in 1 person- but maybe they are out there.


  • Perhaps we’ll see new roles emerge within agencies and brand teams.
  • Perhaps we’ll see more social agencies entering into partnerships with social ad-tech platforms like Ketchum did back in January with Kenshoo a company that supports automated buying across various social-media platforms.
  • Perhaps we’ll see media agencies try to make a play for a social strategy, creative and content capability.  (my guess is they will shy away from that and stick with the DSP expertise they know).

Time will tell.

But it’s all intersecting right now and calling for a new playbook to effectively bring MEDIA into social.







Foursquare moves search & discovery to the forefront and creates Swarm for friend location stalking.

Snapchat introduces a video calling feature (that REALLY puts friends in your face).

Vine moves to a web-based YouTube model (b/c all video should be channel agnostic and quite frankly- who has the attention span of more that 6 seconds on a video network anyway?)

Facebook proclaimed “more privacy for users and building trust” during the f8 conference across multiple new platform refinements— but they also launched a new mobile ad network called FAN—which uses the most robust data available (all the data we as users, provide to FB) for mobile ad targeting. Not contradictory at all? ;)


This all happened within 24 hours.


who's on firstWe learn one thing and before you know it, technology iterates more rapidly that we can keep up with. This has implications for marketers who drive engagement and content using certain technology platforms. Yet, a large majority of marketers still think of the above examples things as “social media” vs. marketing technologies. Some marketers remain in conflict with their “set” marketing plan vs. a flexible one that accommodates tech evolution per the above examples. These social examples only scratch the surface on “marketing technologies” as a larger theme inclusive of marketing automation, CRM and analytic platforms— there are 1000’s out there.

Who’s responsible for marketing technology?

Is that still the responsibility of the brand marketer? Do they have the required tech acumen? The digital strategist? (Do digital strategists still exist?) The CMO? Are they too high level for this granularity? Possibly- depending on the company. Do we need to create a new discipline within marketing that *just* handles assessing and implementing marketing technologies? Marketing technologist?

Personally I feel this is a hybrid combo of part marketing strategist, creative director, technologist.

Maybe we can coin #TechFlex a new aspirational skill for marketers? Can we add that to Linked in? Can I endorse someone for this?

ie: “My marketing acumen allows for adaptability to new technologies that engender customer engagement and ultimately drive revenue for my core business objectives. I understand technologies change at a rapid pace and am capable of developing a plan that remains open for assessment, iteration and testing and refinement”.

Polarizing, yet aspirational thinking about new marketing & organizational models as they relate to technology advancements and innovation. This is happening right now across multiple verticals. Something I’m going to spend a little more time researching. If anyone has existing research on this topic- please feel free to share- tweet me at @jaeselle.

UPDATE: July 18, 2014
Harvard Business Review just penned a great deep dive into “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist”.  Also validates my curiosity & thought process a LOT– I had mixed reviews from my first post above ie: “you’re just trying to create new roles, people in existing marketing roles need to learn new skills (however, sometimes that isn’t the most efficient or effective path forward.)

HBR’s post is a long and worthy read, full of rationale for what’s driving the need (customer behavior & tech innovation) how this role differs from, and integrates with the CMO, CIO and CEO to fill a need.



social media week 2014

social media week 2014

1. Register!

#SMWNY is only a few days away- have you secured your pass yet?
Register here for a Campus Pass with this 30% discount code good through This Friday February 14th! Lucky for you, this year’s sessions are all held in 1 area at the Highline Stages in Meatpacking (so much easier!)

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