Meet the next generation: The Martin Agency's Derek Smith

Smith participated as a juror for the Campaign US BIG awards this year.

What is your favorite app and why?

Right now, TikTok is my favorite app. It’s like an entire world of new and exciting information. Every time I open it I’m stuck for at least an hour. Or three.

What is your favorite social media trend right now?

Social stories as a content format is my favorite trend right now. I think it’s a great use of real time content that doesn’t have to be pretty and polished.

What is the coolest way you’ve seen a brand reach Gen Z?

Crocs’ Come As You Are does an amazing job at reaching Gen Z. It’s definitely one of the smartest campaigns for the target. Its message is geared toward being yourself, which is Gen Z’s lifeblood. It collaborates with different artists/entertainers who are known for shaking up the world by owning who they are.

What’s a trend you wish would stop?

Currently, I think all trends should continue. I think it’s a great way of exploring and opening the doors to fresh content and the way we consume it.

What do you do for fun?

For fun, I enjoy playing the piano and working out. I’ve played the keys since I was 13. It relieves so much stress and anxiety in my life. I also played sports my entire life, which is why I have an addiction to working out. It releases so many endorphins that are essential for positivity and excitement.

What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

I currently don’t have any big projects going on right now. But I recently released a documentary titled The Soul of the City that won a staff pick on Vimeo. It was also featured during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. That’s a first in my career.

What are some changes you want to make to the ad industry as your career develops?

The ad industry is slowly taking steps to diversifying the people who actually shape the work that’s in the world. However, I still think there has to be more people of color who are in a position to be leaders and decision makers. Many times we think just because we hire a few young people of color that’s enough, but it isn’t. More people of color need the opportunity to move up the ranks to actually shape the culture.

What are your top five tips to marketers hoping to connect to Gen Z?

1. Be real, raw and honest.

2. Make the message quick and to the point.

3. Let them make their own decision.

4. Diversify the people within the space.

5. Don’t shy away from edginess.

Drop a meme that describes your creative style.


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