Digital 40 Over 40 2017: Aki Spicer, Chief Digital Officer, TBWA\Chiat\Day

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Casey SheehanAki Spicer
Chief Digital Officer, TBWA\Chiat\Day


Aki Spicer wants to help brands become post-digital. That means shepherding clients into the world of connected technologies while helping them break out of their conceptual boxes.

When Spicer joined TBWA\Chiat\Day in 2013 as director of digital strategy, a role created especially for him, he was charged with the reinvigoration of the agency’s Disruption philosophy. He rebranded it as DLive and created an agency-within-an-agency staffed with "cultural curators" with a variety of backgrounds.

The DLive team meets daily to digest data, current events and cultural moments to help inform the agency’s visions for its clients and itself.

This newfound cultural ingenuity has been instrumental in the agency’s new-business fortunes: It added 10 new clients in 2015 and 14 in 2016, including Pepsi’s Izze soda and Adidas, and was named B2B AOR for Intel. The agency took home eight Gold Lions last year.

Spicer moved up to chief digital officer in 2015. Drawing on his experience as a planner at Vigilante/Leo Burnett and Fallon, he’s crafted strategy and audience plans for millennial-oriented brands including H&M and beIN Sports. Now, he’s creating a proprietary "Zillennial" target segmentation for McDonald's, helping the ageless fast-feeder understand this youngest generation’s values and behaviors.

He lives those values himself, serving as an officer of Planning for Good, an organization of strategic planners using social networks to collaborate locally and globally on good causes. With a 4 a.m.-to-midnight schedule, Spicer finds the time to pass on his institutional knowledge to younger staffers. Spreading the love beyond the agency, Spicer is an active pundit, regularly sharing his idiosyncratic takes on industry trends on Medium and elsewhere.

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