MediaPost 2006 Online All Star: Hillary Evans
Seeing the Consumer's Side
Hillary Evans, Creative Director-Digital, Brand Buzz/Y&R Brands
Hillary Evans was still in college when she landed a freelance gig designing Jolt Cola's first Web site in the early 1990s. "That was the soda that was popular with programmers because it has twice the caffeine of other sodas," she recalls with a laugh.
While Evans labels the early effort, which featured rudimentary animation, "very dorky," she now produces much more sophisticated work for clients such as LG, Microsoft, and Sony in her position as creative director at BrandBuzz, a unit of Y&R, where she has thrived for the past four years.
One of the keys to Evans' success is her ability to generate ideas from the consumer's point of view, says BrandBuzz senior program manager Gwynne Gauntlett, who also worked with Evans at Razorfish. "She understands inherently that to effectively engage the target, you have to provide them with a meaningful interaction with the brand."
When it came time to market the slim new clamshell cu500 phone to college students, LG simply planned to seed the Internet with cool videos that would get people talking about the phone, says Niels Aillaud, LG's electronic marketing manager. But Aillaud was ultimately sold on Evans' more ambitious plan to launch a CU500 page on MySpace this past summer.
Evans devised a page that had two fictional college students assigned to market the LG phone as a school project. The page consisted mainly of videos created using the phone. According to Evans, Lucy and Gavin drew 20,000 friends in the first couple of weeks of the tie-in.
"There were comments on the board [like], 'I hope you get an A on your marketing project,' and then someone would write, 'This is below-the-fold marketing. This isn't real!'" Evans says. "Then after that someone would write, 'Obviously this isn't real, but it's really cool.'"
BrandBuzz executive creative director Graham Turner says that clients like Aillaud enjoy working with Evans because she combines technical know-how and creativity with an engaging personality. "Her demeanor is not what you tend to find in this space," Turner says. "She's less of a wired person; she's more normal and down-to-earth, not floating around in the ether."
Evans has worked with Y&R units on projects for Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger, including the creation of "Big Monster Battle," a two-person fighting game in Messenger, and Mimic, a text filter through which Messenger users can adopt different text personas. "More and more people are participating and creating things in the digital space if you give them the tools."