Associate Creative Director Eliza Florendo answers 7 questions with GALE and shares her career journey from working in media to social to strategy, why it’s important to over-communicate when delegating, how innovation requires constant testing and adjusting, plus more in the Q&A below.
Q. Tell us more about your career transition from working in editorial to strategy.
My first job after graduating from Emerson College (Journalism major) was being an assistant to the editor in chief of DETAILS magazine. I thought I’d be in media forever! I transitioned to Refinery29, where I started working on the social team. I worked with an incredible group of creatives, and continued my journey in social/digital at Women’s Wear Daily.
Honestly, I fell into agency/strategy life by accident - through seeing a job posting and randomly applying, I landed at my first agency, then moved onto a social-specific shop for a couple of years.
Then, early this year, I met Winston Binch (Chief Brand and Experience Officer), we hit it off, and the rest is history. While I don’t have a traditional marketing or advertising degree - I really believe that being able to tell a story and see something through the eyes of a consumer is my biggest superpower.
If I’m like this in most meetings, I know I’m about to ask the right questions to make sense of it all. And I think that’s what a strategist does. Try to make sense of chaos.
Q. What brought you to GALE?
The people I met! Again, I met Winston and was immediately impressed by his work, leadership skills, and curiosity.
I also met with Brad, who I spoke about the values of GALE with—all of which I consider a fundamental part of who I am: Friends Collaborating, No Silos, Master of Our Craft in particular.
I remember several people I interviewed with had told me that you come to GALE to build something different. I liked that. I wanted to know what that meant. And I’ve been here for almost a year now, and I see how my team pushes the work to be more interesting and better.
Q. What’s your approach to collaboration within an integrated agency?
I came from a primarily-social shop before coming to GALE, so it was an adjustment for sure. Before coming here, I didn’t know what an addressable messaging system was.
My approach to collaboration is over-communicate. Give extra context. I once had a mentor tell me that delegating and providing clear next steps is a gift you give to people, because you eliminate any confusion on who owns what and when things are needed.
I’m someone who needs clear communication, and I’ll admit I’ve dropped the ball a few times in my career because I didn’t know something was my responsibility. I learned from it. Yes, I made the meme below on IG Stories.
Be curious. See how your domain could help another. Ask questions.
Above all, approach with empathy and give people the benefit of the doubt. This could be the first time a new process or deliverable is required. Things can get messy. And that’s ok.
Q. What trend are you seeing in the creative strategy space?
A trend that will continue is campaigns that take a hacking approach. For example, QR code during the Superbowl Ad. The Adult Swim screenshot of an Outlook email billboard. As consumers (and as marketers), we’re jaded. It takes a lot for us to notice something. Anything that takes the old and makes it new I think will continue to trend.
Q. What’s your approach to innovation in a creative role?
Forever testing and learning. There is no formula to success. We’ll create a piece of content, and it flops. Something we think may be lower impact suddenly goes viral.
It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people that you trust. I hire people who I believe are smarter than me, more in touch with culture than me, who can roast me and call me a boomer.
And along with that - it’s creating a safe space for my team to share, talk through ideas, and throw something radical out there. One of my mentors called it “psychological safety,” and that stuck with me forever. I have creative ideas - but I want to be a vessel for creativity for others.
Innovation doesn’t always mean hopping on the next big platform, or trying something that’s never been done before. That’s a lofty goal.
Instead, I like to innovate by connecting the dots. Maybe this platform isn’t new, but they’ve never worked with x person. Innovation can come from small tweaks and optimizations, too.
Q. What trends are you seeing with brands for 2023?
I look at things from a content perspective, and there are two things I’m noticing:
- Hyper-localization is something I’ve been seeing across the board. Brands reaching more niche audiences to try to penetrate. Hulu releasing “The Come Up” centered around young creatives in a very specific four-block radius in New York. It’s like a snapshot in time.
- Streaming. Creators who can hold audiences for long periods of time doing the mundane. Leaning into the everyday.
Q. What are you most excited about in the future?
From a professional standpoint: Fostering my team, growing my leadership skills, making more cool/interesting/strange content that people will resonate with. Creating a more empathetic environment.
From a personal standpoint: Spending time with my animals. Writing more (shameless plug - I have a substack! https://elizaflorendo.substack.com/), learning electric bass, meeting my future nieces, being a good friend, partner, sibling, daughter. Eating good meals, getting more tattoos.