Editor’s Note: Over the next several days, we’ll be profiling the three U.S. winners of our 2013 Yahoo! Young Media Stars competition before they head off to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as special Yahoo! guests. Last week, we checked in with Allison Sims of MEC Global, and today we’re meeting Brian Zai of OMD.
As a finance and management information systems major, Brian Zai didn’t exactly have media planning on his radar in college. But after accepting an internship with iMarketing, he discovered a fun, creatively challenging, laid-back environment that seemed to suit his personality better than banking. After another internship---this one with Media Contacts---he was sold on media planning. When he graduated, Brian took a position with OMD and has spent the last 3 years planning and optimizing digital campaigns. He currently serves as the digital supervisor for the Showtime account.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: How did you react when you found out you’d been selected as a Yahoo! Young Media Star?
Brian Zai: I was speechless. The Yahoo! rep that I work with sent me an email that said, “Brian call me ASAP, I have news for you.” But it was on an email chain about one of our campaigns, so I was worried that maybe something was wrong with our ads. When I called him and he told me I won, I needed him to repeat it. I was expecting to hear something completely different---I was shocked!
YAB: Did you think you had a good chance of winning?
BZ: I kind of did. I didn’t want to be too serious with my video, so I tried to brainstorm ideas that would let me be creative and fun. I decided to spoof the Old Spice commercials because they were so funny and a lot of people shared them back in the day. It was cool to do something different that I’ve never really done before. Shooting in front of a green screen and sitting down in the studio to play with the effects was especially awesome.
YAB: How have people at the office been treating you since you won?
BZ: Everyone’s been congratulating me and telling me they liked my video. It’s been sort of funny to be in the spotlight, but I will say it’s nice that people throughout the company now know who I am and what I’ve been doing. That’s probably the biggest win of all!
YAB: What are the moments that make your job feel most worthwhile?
BZ: I like working on Showtime and really honing in on what’s new in the digital world. The clients are open to everything, so it’s exciting to be able to take new innovations and technologies and figure out how to intertwine them with the brand. When we’re able to take solutions that have just hit the market and associate Showtime with them, it really feels like we’re leading in the industry. The second part of my job that I love is the lull after a campaign launches when we can see how all of our hard work and late nights have paid off.
YAB: Do you have a certain career ambition you’re hoping to accomplish?
BZ: Right now I’m taking it step-by-step, but eventually I’d like to progress up to being a group account director or team lead where I can really be that point of contact with the client. I want to be the guy that brings the next big thing to clients’ brands. And it would be pretty rewarding to say I worked my way up to that in my first job out of college.
YAB: What are your daily habits online?
BZ: Right after I wake up, I usually check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what’s going on with friends. Then I check email and start looking for news and content. ESPN is where I go for sports, and for news I go to the Yahoo! homepage and cycle through the articles. I also find myself clicking through to Yahoo! articles when I look through my Facebook news feed and people have shared the stuff they’ve read.
YAB: What would be your dream takeaway from Cannes Lions?
BZ: I’d like to have time to really sit down and talk to industry leaders to find out what drives them, what got them to where they are, what their ideologies are. It would be great to take some expert tips back with me---even just small things---and put them into practice for my clients.