2007 Online All Star: Dorian Sweet

The Time Traveler

Dorian Sweet

Executive creative director, Tribal DDB, San Francisco

For over a decade, Dorian Sweet has been at the very edge of next-gen site design and brand-building online, yet he is very much a student of history and his own past media experiences. “I have been programmed for advertising from an early age,” says Tribal ddb’s executive creative director. “I have been remembering jingles and tag lines since I was four.”

In his award-winning destinations and ad campaigns for Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, and 20th Century Fox, Sweet demonstrates this lifelong appreciation for how big brands get into our heads and become part of our experience.

This past year, at sites like the new Clorox.com and Glad Press’n Seal — 1000 Uses, Sweet and his team married everyday household tools with user creativity and deft design skills. Thousands of users dragged and dropped their own product tips onto a highly interactive 360-degree view of their environment.

Sweet, who has been building corporate and branded sites for a decade, is expert at maintaining a clean, well-lit brand image online while also giving users room to explore and contribute. The sites reflect a fundamental shift in consumer consciousness since the days Sweet himself dutifully recited corporate jingles; his designs celebrate a kind of liberated user. “Until the Internet, consumers believed advertising was psychologically imposed on you,” he says. “Now they have access to everything they see — the world or a subject or a product from many dimensions. So marketing has become more inclusive than dictatorial.”

And more entertaining. Sweet’s vision for more interactive brands culminated in the June launch of MealsTogether.com. Staged as an online sitcom, this bold re-imagining of a big brand Web site lets users navigate Hidden Valley, KC Masterpiece, Kingsford and Glad products through family characters, recipes and togetherness tips. For Sweet, however, MealsTogether.com represents a return to the roots of video advertising,  “when a brand sponsored TV shows.

“Now we have brands sponsoring storylines that incorporate their products.” MealsTogether.com gets over 21,000 visitors a week who stay on average four minutes, and it has spawned co-marketing programs with Wal-Mart and ESPN.

Married to a genealogist who has tracked Sweet back to the Pilgrims, he’s become fascinated by American democracy’s pre-history. For him, online video represents that new country of interactivity. In the next year, he speculates, “We’ll be sorting out how video plays a role in the interactive experience.”

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