C What are the challenges of creative directing for the interactive space?
NL Interactive becomes a hub of several disciplines-graphic design, corporate identity, advertising-so you need to recognize the connective tissue between all these things, including offline. In directing interactive there is this tension between generating a strong concept, which tends to be done well in small groups, and then realizing that concept with a very large group because interactive is like making a feature film. There are a lot of people involved from strategy to technology, and they all contribute in a very significant way. They're not just there to produce.
C So what are the key points that you keep in mind, in order to do that?
NL One of the first things is that everyone, not just from the traditional creative disciplines, is involved creatively, because it's this marriage of art and technology. One of the problems with traditional advertising is because they don't have technology as a core discipline, they tend to use technology as a vendor. There's an issue there because all these big marketing changes are the result of technology changes, so unless you understand the technology, then it's very hard to find solutions to these nice big changes besides superficial ones. There's a process at the agency that has technology as a core competency and a creative way of thinking. It's there from the beginning. You don't just hand it off later.
C When you start a project, what's step one?
NL At the beginning, it's similar to the traditional process as far as strategy is concerned, but then you get to the point where you have to figure out how it should be delivered, whereas in traditional advertising, you have a set number of media that you play in, in interactive, when you ask how it's to be delivered, there are times when you invent the medium. And then you also have to consider how it works with other channels. Is there a traditional campaign or other marketing expression offline-how does what we do connect all those things? That's a very important part of the process.
C Tell me about Nike. Which of the individual projects has been the most interesting ?
NL One of the most interesting things we've been doing is Nike iD. It's something that has really transformed your experience with the brand because we express that in all sorts of channels, from the website, to banners, to a digital sign in Times Square, where you could go with your cellphone and design a shoe on this 23-story sign. That's an instance of what I was talking about before, where our technology department invented that channel. We designed the backend technology for the Reuters sign. It didn't exist before we invented it, and that's something I think that only a company with technology as a core competency could do, because the starting point was the technology.