Found People Thursdays – GUEST BLOG – Tony Altilia – Ad Man, Perennial Inc.
Thursday, May 9, 2013

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Jack Ponte and Tony Altilia met at The Marketing Magazine Best of 2012 event in January. A few words of wisdom from Tony to Jack brand left a lasting impression. How could  it be any other way when you’ve been moving and shaking  in the Advertising industry for 3 + decades like Tony has?

Here’s a snap shot Bio : After graduating from WLU Business school, Tony spent 2 years as a client at the Campbell Soup Company, and then 33 years in the ad agency business. He worked globally with Leo Burnett and is the past president of DDB Canada. Since retiring almost 6 years ago he has taught Brand Development at OCAD University, wrote a book, started a boutique brand consultancy and pursued his passions of art, music, golf and travel.

FP – You’ve worked in advertising since the 70’s, what’s the biggest difference between working in the business now to the 80s ?
TA – It’s not as much fun. In the 70’s and 80’s we worked hard and played harder, mostly with our clients. Some of my best friends today are clients I met then. The biggest difference in the business is media fragmentation. It grows exponentially. In the early days of my career and on any given brand, we’d shoot a commercial, run it on three networks and tracked it to see if it worked. It was easier and a lot more fun.

FP – If the business has changed so have you, tell us about that?
TA – I am wiser. I’m free. I work for myself. I report to no one. I work with people I like. I work on projects I like. If I don’t like the work or the people I don’t engage in a project. I have time to pursue the interests I neglected while I was working, namely music and art. I have also discovered what I enjoy most about the business is helping clients position and champion their brands. I love solving brand puzzles, whether they are positioning or brand architecture challenges.

FP – Mad Men – fact or fiction? explain
TA – I only caught the tail end of the Mad Man era. Definitely fact. I’ll say no more on the grounds that it may incriminate me but I once had a boss and a client that were alcoholics and 4 martini lunches were not uncommon. They collectively mentored me on the fine art consuming liquid lunches.

FP – A lot of people complement brand strategists by calling them disruptive – is that where good strategy is going? Why or why not?
TA – Strategies are not disruptive. An execution of a strategy can be but strategies aren’t necessarily so. Great strategies are intelligent and insightful. Great strategists look at information, big data and small, qualitative and quantitative, see patterns and then create intelligent observations and hypothesis. Great strategist are curious by nature, students of the human condition and have an insatiable thirst for learning. Some of the best strategists I worked with were writers and art directors.

FP – Texting, Mobile Apps,Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – noise, distraction,
constant interaction-how does this changes us most as consumers?
TA – I’m not sure it changes us as consumers. We will still consume the brands we connect most with emotionally. Texting, Mobile Apps Facebook are just channels to communicate with one another and brands. Personally, I believe these incremental channels are exacerbating our collective ADD.

FP – What’s the most consistent behaviour you bring to your work, how has it.
TA – The most consistent behaviour I bring to my work is integrity. I tell the truth.
I strive to build trust and be trusted. I expect the same in return. All we have to offer clients is the truth. If I’m asked for my opinion I oblige. Integrity is integral to a successful career and a clear conscience.

Tony thank you for blogging with us. You know we still do have liquid lunches, and sometimes getting through one does take some coaxing. They’re usually chock full of spirulina, vegetable protein and ginseng :). We appreciate your insight and candor.


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