Today we buzz with Rob Galletta, the account services director and partner at Blackjet, the Toronto-based marketing firm that consistently blows our minds with their excellent creative and strategy.
Blackjet has a diverse array of clients, but one of their many specialties is marketing and advertising for new residential developments. Their projects include O2 Maisonettes on George, Parkside Village, The Royal Collection, Northern Lights, Backstage and a project by Lifetime Developments and CentreCourt.
We grill Rob on marketing wins and fails, get the low down on how he got into the industry and how an office dog can do more than just boost morale.
BBH: How did you get your start in the marketing industry?
I was in my senior year of high school when I got my start as an unpaid intern in the creative department of a local agency when I was 18 years old. That summer I was hired for whopping $100 a week as a tabletop photographer shooting food for Longo’s and Rabba flyers.
When I wasn’t shooting, I spent my time learning, observing, writing and conceptualizing. I became obsessed with the work. It was thrilling, I spent nights, weekends and every waking hour at the office (when I wasn’t in school). I wrote my first ad at the age of 19.Shortly thereafter I was given an opportunity to help launch a startup agency and I jumped at it. It was a wild ride. A pure start-up literally out of someone’s apartment. I spent the next 10 years helping grow the agency. I worked with a lot of great people along the way.
BBH: How did you come to be a part of Blackjet?
RG: It was always a dream of mine to lead an agency. I had my own thoughts and vision as to how an agency should work, fostering creativity and never settling for work that was “good enough”.In 2006 my partner and (one of my best friend’s for over 20 years) decided it was time to do our own thing. It was a scary decision as we had well-established roles where we were working (not to mention we had families to feed!) but we took the leap and never looked back.
BBH: Blackjet works on branding and marketing in a lot of industries. What are some really awesome projects you’re working on now in real estate?
RG: Most of the stuff that we’re working on in real estate is in pre-launch phase right now so I can’t really talk too much about them. But we’re really excited to be working with clients that are open to our ideas and new approaches to marketing real estate.Often times our ideas challenge conventional thinking and this makes most clients uncomfortable. That’s our job. If our recommendations feel “easy” and “familiar”, then chances are they’ll fail.
BBH: In your opinion what constitutes an epic marketing FAIL? Can you give us a good example?
RG: When brands lose touch with their audience. When they lose focus. The most obvious case is GM. We all saw what happened there.
BBH: In a similar vein, how do you define a epic marketing WIN?
RG: Old Spice is a great case study. There’s a brand that was completely irrelevant and on the brink of extinction. Heavily discounted and had no appeal to young males. The Old Spice Man campaign was genius. Brilliant strategy and even better creative that captured the hearts and minds of its core audience, which lead to the brand outselling its closest competitor Axe and charging a premium.It generated an unprecedented amount of viral exposure. And that, to me, is what its all about. Generating Word of Mouth is where it’s at.
BBH: Is there such thing as too much creativity? Have you ever had what you and your team thought was a good idea for a marketing or branding project, and then realized that it was too abstract or confusing or complex?
RG: I don’t think so. It’s up to us as professionals to be the “shit filter” on behalf of our clients. We agonize over every detail of our work before it ever sees the light of day.
BBH: If you traveled back in time and met yourself on your first day working in marketing, what advice would you give the younger Rob Galletta?
RG: Be fearless. Never stop learning. Never compromise. Work hard. Then, work harder. Surround yourself with great people who are better than you and that you can learn from. Keep your ego in check and always listen to your gut.
BBH: Blackjet is on Twitter and Facebook, do you have time for Google+?
RG: I personally don’t. I’m a Twitter lover myself. But lots of our team members are on Google+.
BBH: We’ve heard you guys have an office dog. What’s her name? Does she boost morale in the office?
RG: Not only does she boost morale, Kayla can code PHP and Java Script!