A Conversation with Quizative’s Adrian Capobianco – Marketing Week 2009

Adrian Capobianco looks you in the eye when he speaks to you. He lets you know that a conversation with you is what’s important to him, now. As a young person navigating the digital world armed with an overwhelming number of perspectives, this is all appreciated. It’s also a telling sign that the man behind the vision is someone who wants to hear your standpoints, just as much as you want to learn from him.

On Media day, a day filled with recognizing serial media innovators, Capobianco was a refreshing addition to the mix. I caught up with the founder and creator of Quizative, the digital innovation agency, for a brief chat on everything from the power of execution to the unavoidable impact of the economy.

As he puts it, Quizative was launched in one of the greatest global recessions of our time and in that, Capobianco never looked back. Gutsy? Perhaps. But Capobianco possesses a rare, ease of confidence about him that makes everything he communicates about his past and present seem as if his successes were effortless in their inception.

With an impressive background and varied career spanning multi-national corporations, global agencies and smaller shops, it’s no wonder that when Capobianco set out to create an agency he hoped would speak to the present state of digital affairs, he had his pick of an impressive roster of talent. Partnering with former agency heavy weights, Capobianco explained that when looking for a creative director he wanted to engage someone who could be “A Hollywood Reporter rather than a webpage banner ad designer.” From Capobianco’s perspective the soul of Quizative lies in the essence of what he believes to be the missing link in the marketplace: Telling a story with a brand, because, afterall, brands need to relate to people at their very core.

So what else was important as Capiobianco set out to create an exceptional brand experience for his clients? In his words, Capiobianco felt strongly about the idea that “if you look at the digital channel it’s still not great from a marketing content perspective. How do we build better content online and underpin it with a strategy?” With a solid background in the digital space, Capobianco felt that there was much room to grow this medium in an innovative way.

Given the dire state of the economy, we know that it’s forced us to ask the touch questions. Capobianco believes that because of this state of affairs, it’s never been a better time for digital to emerge, as everything is now being re-evaluated and changed. Some may shy away from taking risks in times like these, but not Capobianco. He’s of the opinion that the one universal trait that’s imperative to a successful entrepreneur is the ability to assess risk and reward and exercise an incredible amount of risk tolerance. “Afterall,” says Capobianco, “what does it mean to have job security anymore? As the creator of my own domain, I have the ability to carve my own future, which a large corporation cannot guarantee.”

When asked about his relationship with his clients, Capobianco is just the sort of man you want to work with as a brand marketer. He respects all people, and doesn’t feel the need to put “marketers” and “agencies” into a box. A refreshing approach, to say the least. The mandate of Quizative spawns from tactical to strategic and Capobianco takes pride across his entire spectrum of work. He enjoys engaging along all different axes, a testament again, to his chameleon-like persona.

So where is digital going? What’s the future of digital? Well, Capobianco doesn’t have a glass ball and is certainly no prophet but he did offer this astute commentary on the state of digital today.

Consumers are further ahead than marketers and agencies. It’s simple. How agencies and marketers target consumers is disconnected. The growth in social and digital has created distrust in traditional mediums because people have been lied to for decades and decades. With this huge distrust in advertising, the channels are no longer controlled.  Consumers are more powerful than brands.

Capobianco points out that the top ten traffic sites in North America are user generated. This takes me by surprise and I ask him what this means for the ecosystem of brands. Capobianco doesn’t hold back: “The longer a brand takes to understand the digital space, the harder it will be to penetrate their targeted audience.”

I couldn’t help but probe Capobianco for some much coveted “career” advice. Afterall, this is a man who was approached by industry leaders to build something radically avant-garde. His response made me stop in consideration for more than a moment, and that’s always a good thing. Just like the brands he creates stories for; Capobianco believes that this narrative approach is the direction you need to take with your career:

Don’t fabricate the story – be authentic and be yourself. But always be cognisant of the fact that you need to look within yourself and know what you want for your future. This transparency is evident and noticed.

As Adrian Capobianco stops to reflect on the digital world as we’ve come to know it, he offers this last perspective “Do you want to be where people were, or where they are?” Another indicator, that in a time when cynicism is omnipresent the man behind the sought after ground-breaking experience is a refreshing voice, passionate about finding stories worth telling.