Business Journal: 20 Names to know in Advertising & Marketing
Name: Tony Felice Title: Founder and Chief Creative Officer
Company: The Felice Agency (TFPR)
No. of employees: 9
How long in industry: 35 years
Twitter handle: @feliceagency
Favorite way to spend time away from work: Spending time with Tim and our three dogs, hunting down great food and craft beer with our best friends Kristin Priscella and Chris Hunt; weekends away in Flagstaff (you have to try Tinderbox Kitchen) working out at the gym and helping non profits like Focus on Lyme that I have a passion for helping.
How did you get into this profession? I am an art school dropout who later graduated from ASU’s College of Engineering and now I make art for a living. You never know where life will take you. When I was a twenty-something, I talked my way into my first marketing job (with no experience), because I have a passion for communications.
What do you like best about the work you do? Our clients think they hire us for the big ideas, and we have them, but what I do best is subtlety. It’s what makes people buy things or take action on something. And I have the greatest honor to articulate that subtlety for our clients in many ways. There is this magic that happens when you present a client’s new brand that fully encompasses everything they are and you see them get emotional. That feeds my soul. What keeps us in business is our passion for translating that into more business for them.
What are your favorite types of clients to work with? Clients who make a positive difference in the lives of others. We tend to be drawn to causes and David vs. Goliath clients. When they win, those wins are huge. Also clients who have the courage to be bold, or clever, or ironic or compelling. What advice would you give to someone who wants to build a career that is similar to yours? Starve your ego and feed your soul. The ego is the biggest obstacle to creativity because it limits your field of vision to understand subtlety. Without a burning desire to be better, which includes embracing criticism, an ego-driven creative will languish in mediocrity.
Tell us about the coolest trend in advertising and marketing today. Authenticity. Real moments. Forget branded content (I wish it never existed frankly). People hunger for and desire real and genuine moments. And production values can be high or low but it must be authentic. Storytelling is a part of our DNA, from the time we sat around the fire in the Pleistocene Epoch and told stories to remember our history, inspire our clan or entertain children. Somewhere along the way, we were convinced that the truth could be sacrificed for a return on our investment. I believe that time has passed. And good products must be brought forward.
How have you seen your industry change in the past few years? Technology and tools have become accessible everyone and reduced the cost of creating beautiful art. Drones in particular have drastically reduced the cost of creating stunning film leveling the playing field so small agencies can produce the same quality as heftier rivals. Social media and the trend towards monetizing content has in many ways cheapened marketing and we are feeling a push back from consumers who are no longer susceptible to click bating and content that does not deliver on promises, but instead seeks to only lure us into a transaction.
One marketing technique you wish would go away? Disingenuous content and cheap thrills.
What's your favorite medium to work in? Photoshop. I can turn straw into gold. I always considered myself a mediocre fine artist and only painted for my own enjoyment. But photoshop has transformed my work and given a tool I have mastered and use to tell great stories, amuse consumers and drive business for my clients. I love that I can paint a background that otherwise didn’t exist or make a photo-realistic lightbulb shine and flare dramatically, all created from the stroke of a pen on photoshop. And video storytelling, I have become the filmmaker I always dreamed I’d be.
What is one easy thing a business can do to build its brand? Tell the truth and have the courage to do it, and keep its promises. Period.
How have millennials changed your strategies? They have caused marketers to rethink transaction-oriented features and benefits advertising and instead focus on emotional and aspirational advertising. Millennials are an unusual combination of competing desires. For example, they want convenience but not at the sacrifice of meaning or higher purpose. They want affordable, but not at the expense of the planet. Also, it’s possible to speak to millennials even if your share of wallet is represented by other generations. Those generations are responding to a new way of storytelling.
What’s the industry’s greatest challenge? We are convenience-ing ourselves into oblivion. Our current fascination with “get it now,” is having an adverse affect on our ability to help smaller business compete. Amazon is putting small businesses out of business every day and those are the businesses that would have hired us. We need to counter-balance our desire for fast and cheap with things that last longer and have a deeper meaningful connection. When someone meets you in person or sees an ad or visits a website, these are the things on their mind, in this order: 1) Why should I care? 2) Why should I believe you? 3) What do you do that’s so special? Too often we lead with the third question and forget the others.
What advertising or marketing campaign from your childhood do you remember the most? Why did it stick with you? The late 70s early 80s were about juxtaposition. Apple’s famous Orwellian commercial, Joe Namath wearing panty hose for Beauty Mist and of course who could forget Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” The message was juxtaposed against an unlikely pitchman or woman.
What do you wish more people understood about your industry? We are here to help you sell an idea not a product. People purchase a product based on the strength of the idea that supports it and that idea has to be told from the consumer’s perspective, not the client’s. Take FedEx, their tag is brilliant. “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” It’s a revelation. Everything packed into one small elegant sentence. Inside it is their brand promise, what they do well, how they care about you and what you should feel about them. So what are they selling? Overnight service? No. They are selling L-O-V-E. Your stuff is so important, they’ll kill themselves to get it where it needs to go … overnight. That’s brilliant. That’s magic.