Born: Athens, Georgia- USA
Lived in/Worked in: Buenos Aires, Chicago and New York. Steve has done business on every continent.
Steve Schildwachter has a big fan base. His popularity, though, isn’t only due to the far-reaching nature of his well-crafted and thought-provoking advertising blog, Ad Majorem, which shares how an executive at a large agency embraces the challenges and changes of modern marketing. (http://admajoremblog.blogspot.com). Colleagues from every culture admire Steve, because he’s a collaborator. His advocates consistently remark on his both his sense of fairness and grasp of the “big idea” when working on programs throughout the world.
Steve’s innovations are about connecting cultures and working with teams. He has put together clients from multiple continents and fostered agreement on a common campaign for brands that each marketed in very different ways. Together, with his encouragement, the group wrote a single positioning statement for each brand, took a hard look at the products in the portfolios, and then created an ad campaign that could be used all over the world. This is far more complex and far less common than we often imagine. In the same vein, Steve joined together clients from all over Latin America, pooled their resources to advertise on regional cable television-- reaching consumers much more cost-efficiently than before.
What is the biggest challenge you face in applying innovative thinking to international projects? “The trick working internationally has always been, and will always be, balancing global efficiencies with local market situations. Social Media will be an interesting influence on the global vs. local dynamic because it makes word-of-mouth go global via platforms like Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon.”
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? “Marketing will always be driven by creative – the right strategy, the right message – but Media increasingly is an exciting laboratory for innovation. The landscape changes so frequently it’s impossible not to innovate. The same principle that drives creative also drives innovation in media: collaboration. If we all worked in silos, we’d drown in our own grain.”
Why do people see Steve as an innovator? Steve’s record as an innovator is fueled by a career path that always adds new disciplines and skills. Steve has been a teacher, radio announcer, media planner, retail promotions exec, advertising man – and now, combining it all, an integrated marketing expert. Clients and colleagues see him as capable of connecting all the various channels available to marketers today into a cohesive, effective plan. International experience helped Steve develop this knack for integration, because outside the very siloed U.S. market, the work is much more naturally channel-neutral.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Innovation is essential to any marketing strategy today because there’s always a new way to engage consumers and adapt to the changing media landscape.
Although a native of the US state of Georgia, Steve says he should have been born south of the Rio Grande. “I have a Latin heart,” he always says. Steve has an international family; his children are adopted from Paraguay, Venezuela and Guatemala.