Eli Draluk | The Innovator 25 Americas 2017

2017 Innovator 25 Americas - Eli DralukThe Innovator 25:

Eli Draluk

Director, Marketing Science 
New York

“We also need to reward smaller innovation.”

Before joining Omnicom in August, Eli Draluk was at the WPP-owned Burson-Marsteller where he continued his focus on the intersection of technology, business and math and how it relates to the shifting marketing communications landscape. His background — which includes global asset management and operational risk analysis at UBS — gives him a unique vantage on quantitative and complex decision-making. On the marketing side, he uses this for building a foundation of audience profiling and targeting, marketplace intelligence gathering, content optimization, measurement framework development, KPI development, as well as tool assessment and implementation.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is a taking a new or novel approach. That innovation doesn’t have to be technological, digital or even brand new. It’s not about bleeding edge, but about bringing new approaches and ideas to challenges facing you or your business. Some of the best innovation that's happening is quiet and incremental.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Rick and Morty’s surprise April Fool’s day launch.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
A difficult question to answer, because some of the most powerful innovation is the kind not touted in press releases or awards.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I came to a realization that behavior online often described as "social conversation" is less conversation than people yelling into echo chambers. I reimagined a set of tools initially focused on social influencers to help clients understand how both positive and negative information spreads about them online.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
I’ve always admired Warren Buffett from my earliest days as a financial analyst. He took old ideas around insurance and value investing and turned it into one of the most historically successful companies around. He is even giving away his wealth innovatively, by handing it to the Gates foundation to manage.

How do you get out of a creativity or productivity rut? 
Do something else and trust that my brain will reset.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Recognize that innovation can be risky, and that not everything works. Too often we get told "we need to seem innovative" but punished for failure. Focusing on process rather than results is a far better way to ensure more innovation. We also need to reward smaller innovation. Too often the awards, promotions and rewards go to those building a new shiny thing rather than improving on the old one.

In your opinion, what's the most innovative place in the world?
I don’t know, but it’s not Silicon Valley, New York, London or Tokyo. It might be a coffee shop in Atlanta, an office park in Mumbai or a factory in Lagos.

What's your favorite hobby that's not work-related? 
Reading is both really fun and tremendously important. One would be shocked at how often your best ideas come from reading a book on Postwar Europe.