Darren Goes Digital

SAN FRANCISCO (01/04/2000) - Once upon a time Darren Schillace was a traditional account executive who joined TBWA/Chiat/Day to work on the Infiniti brands. His purview then included offline media, like TV and print advertising.

This was back in April, before the agency's so-called digerati led everyone through Reboot Camp and morphed Schillace into a digital ambassador.

But as he and the Infiniti team began preparing for the automaker's launch of the i30, Schillace had to start thinking about interactive media. To launch the new car brand, the firm figured an interactive stock-picking game, with the new car as the prize, would appeal well to potential buyers. "It was a huge learning curve," he says. "But we were able to put together a promotion online that in other media would have taken months."

He got a flavor of the Internet pace: "It became a full-time job to get it up and running - 12-hour days, six days a week," Schillace adds. Gone were the days of traditional account work, when a team had months come up with new TV spots. He also learned that the Internet demands constant nurturing: Halfway through the promotion, which started in October and recently ended, the agency created an Infiniti-branded stock ticker that users could download from the game site. All of this upkeep took several hours a day. "This is a very high-maintenance game. It's at least a few hours a day ... but as it becomes more familiar to us, that may go down," he says.

"If I had to rewrite my job description, I'd say you kind of become more of a brand manager. Now that it's 2000, the Internet has become a part of that," Schillace adds. Headhunters are now calling him to ask if he wants to go to interactive shops. He's turning them down: "People with Internet experience are going to get ahead faster" at TBWA/Chiat/Day. Reboot Camp must have made a difference.

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