Online All Stars: The TightRope Walker

Reeny Gleeson/Illustration: Molly Crabapple

Renny Gleeson Global Digital Strategies Director, Wieden+Kennedy

Renny Gleeson's resume doesn't read like the typical CV of someone with a strategic position at a major agency,
but, on the other hand, as disciplines like strategy, media and creative merge - particularly in digital - Gleeson's myriad experiences may become more commonplace in the agency world.

Wieden+Kennedy's global digital strategies director had an early interest in gaming, beginning as a storyboard artist, sketching out the vision of how online cd-rom games were to play out. If for no other reason than expediency, he began to create storyboards using computer animation. Eventually, that led to a job at Saatchi & Saatchi's Darwin Digital unit, followed by a stint at the teen girl retailer dELiA*s and then a move to the nba, where, as senior director, global media and interactive, he built out platforms in online for the league's sponsors. He then came back into the ad business as a managing director at Carat Fusion, before joining Wieden in 2006. Earlier this year, he was also a speaker at the ted conference, where he urged the crowd, "Please, let's make technologies that make people more human, and not less."

In a world where we are increasingly distracted by our devices, Gleeson remarks, "We can't buy attention anymore, we have to earn it." Though not the first to say it, the sentiment speaks to the melding of what used to be distinct parts of digital advertising. If buying distribution to get messages to the right people used to be media's primary role, earning attention comes through creative - constructing communications that resonate with consumers enough that they want to see them (and, hopefully, pass them on). To Gleeson, this requires people like himself to help brands discover themselves first. "Before you figure out what to say, you have to know who you are," he explains.

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