Tom Ajello, Agency:, Age: 29

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HIS STORY Don't let his age fool you. Despite the fact that Tom Ajello has yet to reach 30,'s VP-creative is already considered a veteran trailblazer in the interactive world. After studying advertising, photography and design in college, Ajello dabbled in traditional advertising for several years, working his way up to senior designer at PLN Interactive in Atlanta. "One hot and hazy afternoon, some friends and I were enjoying bourbon chicken at the Cajun Cafe when we had a moment of clarity," recalls Ajello. "It went something like: 'Dude?' 'Yeah?' 'Let's start a company.' 'OK.' "

The result of that brainstorm, Spunky Productions-a digital media company specializing in original children's internet content-was an overnight success, leading Ajello and company to San Francisco. "Months later, we were managing a group of 50 animators, designers and writers. We conceived and built all these funky interactive animated experiences and pushed Flash to its outer-limits. Those initial projects formed the genesis of my interactive awakening. It was so obvious: if it's not viral and immersive, the user will just ... leave."

In 2000, Ajello returned to the East Coast to join Modem Media, where he helped unleash groundbreaking interactive campaigns for brands like Delta, Coors and M&M/Mars. "We based our core philosophy on one truism-wildly creative, technologically-driven, dynamically-generated interactive experiences don't have to be intrusive or ugly," says Ajello. And in 2004, he brought that same philosophy to "There was an opportunity to help drive some big changes going on there-the integration of the online advertising and web development offerings. With so many agencies going about it the wrong way, I needed to be a part of building a truly full-service interactive agency the way it was meant to be.

"For too long, interactive has been the poor cousin at the kiddie table," adds Ajello. "Now everyone gets it. We're creating dynamic campaigns that aren't just picking up where offline ends-instead, we 're defining where it all begins."

HIS RESUME Ajello recently added to his already impressive collection of industry awards with recognition for his work on Discovery Networks' "Dragons" campaign, which featured a desktop application that can be used to hatch and raise a virtual baby dragon. His work for, JP Morgan and British Airways has also garnered praise, with the innovative "Go With Those Who Know" campaign for BA-which combined outdoor ads with viral online and mobile components to introduce non-Brits to the slang of London-gaining a great deal of buzz. "The fully integrated campaign persuaded anyone exposed to our 'Brit Speak' to use it in daily banter," explains Ajello. "And to make it an even deeper experience while taking advantage of increased online traffic, we gave curious users a dictionary of more English-to-English translations-and more viral tools to spread the word."

IF THERE WAS NO INTERNET, HE WOULD BE "Yikes! No internet? What about my Flickr account? My Treo? Can I still have iTunes? I don't know, but I bet I'd be getting a lot more sleep than I am now."

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