Jonathan Adashek | The Innovator 25 2016
Jonathan AdashekThe Innovator 25:

Jonathan Adashek

VP global communications & chief communications officer


"The most innovative brands forgo messaging for themselves and delve into what consumers are talking about"


Prior to moving to Japan to join Nissan last year, Adashek spent most of this career in the US, working in a variety of senior strategic communications roles. For three years, he oversaw communications strategy at Microsoft, and also spent several years at Edelman, where he forged a particularly strong reputation for his work on Walmart. At Nissan, he is charged with overseeing the global communications team and has already set in motion ambitious plans to overhaul the company's narrative at both a corporate and product level, driven by his belief in integration and in understanding what matters most to consumers.

How do you define innovation?
For me, innovation is taking techniques and methods that have been around for a long time and merging them with new technology to create a better result. A perfect example is leveraging analytics and insights as inputs to create a new digital or creative brief.

Most innovative comms/marketing campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
One campaign that really stood out for me is Coke’s #shareacoke where they personalized the brand. I believe that any chance a company has to create a human/emotional connection with their customers is one that should be leveraged. I also like that it was started in a local market – Australia – and went global.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
The most innovative brands are the ones that forgo creating messaging for themselves and delve into what consumers are talking about to create relevant messages that resonate. Brands like Unilever and Starbucks come to mind.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
Working for Edelman working on the WalMart account. Stationed inside the client’s home office we worked with the WalMart communications team to handle a multitude of issues and opportunities they were facing. With the vast scope and large amount of work occurring, it was very easy to get distracted by the issue of the day, which would in turn prevent promotion of the good work which was occurring. To overcome this we divided the team into promote, protect and respond work streams. While this approach would hardly be considered innovate today, it was a complete change in the way WalMart communicated and it allowed us to be successful.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Content & creative.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

More innovative then other marketing disciplines

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Content & creative.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?

Who is your mentor and why?
I have been fortunate to learn from many amazing people throughout my career. The two who have had the most impact on me are Harold Ickes and Vernon Jordan. Harold taught me how to look at a complete situation, determine the areas where you need to directly engage and those where direct involvement is not necessary, and finally how to realize your objective. Vernon taught me the art of relationship building, personal interactions and how to navigate the world of corporate and personal politics. I am fortunate to count both as friends and mentors.

How do you find inspiration?
The first place I find inspiration is with my family. My wife is my best friend and biggest champion. She is always encouraging me to try new things and push to be the best I can. Our relatively recent move to Japan has created many great opportunities along with the occasional challenge for our family. To see how she capitalizes on the opportunities and turns the challenges into a positive provides me with great inspiration. I also strive to be a good role model for my children – spending time with them is a regular source of inspiration.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Don’t stop. Innovation and innovative ideas are sometimes hard to sell in. Keep at it. Start small and show success with smaller executions that promote a bigger idea.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

I’m seeing a lot of innovation in retail right now. Customer experience is finally something that is driving the retail experience. Mobile technology and contextual content around products and offerings is changing the retail experience for the better.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
I like both mornings and my kid’s bedtime. I use the quiet of the mornings to exercise, catch up on overnight happenings and plan out my day. Putting my kids to bed is a great way to wrap up a day. No matter what has happened earlier, there is nothing like reading with the kids and hearing about their day to put things in perspective.

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