Joseph Jaffe’s Interactive Passion Play

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By Kenneth Musante

There are few online marketing pros who’ve got their hands in as many cookie jars as Joseph Jaffe does. He’s got his own consulting practice, Jaffe LLC, has authored a book (Life After the 30-Second Spot), runs a blog called JaffeJuice, and is, in general, a man on a mission. What’s his aim? To safeguard and guide the industry in pursuit of effective interactive marketing.

“I’m an evangelist,” Jaffe says. “I’m very passionate. I really believe in [interactive]. I’m in it to make a difference. I’m in it to inspire. I’m in it to help people.”

As in any good tale, this self-proclaimed new media evangelist honed the skills that would eventually turn him into one of the Internet’s best known marketing gurus in a somewhat unlikely place: doing client-side marketing for a fast food chicken joint in his native South Africa called Nando’s—a place he describes as “Starbucks meets subservient chickens.”

“I often say… that I think 99% of what I needed to be successful as a marketer I learned working for [Nando’s],” Jaffe admits. “That’s how inspirational, and unique, and original it was. In terms of insight into creativity, in terms of insight even into engagement–all the things that are now so top-of-mind.”

This combination of inspiration and creativity has clearly stood him in good stead in the years that have since gone by. Jaffe first started working with interactive marketing techniques in 1993 while he was still at Nando’s, in the days when the question in South Africa was not “How many people have broadband”, or even “How many people have internet access,” but “How many people have computers?”

Determined to tap further into the burgeoning interactive space, Jaffe eventually moved to the US in 1997, first to take a positions at Ogilvy and then at Forward Slash, shooting quickly up the corporate ladder. Eventually Jaffe moved once again, joining Chiat/Day first as a strategist and then moving up to serve as their Director of Interactive Media.

The position was a great coup—but it was one, it would turn out, that wasn’t a great fit for Jaffe. He left Chiat/Day just a year and a half after he started, having come to the realization that “corporate environment” wasn’t for him. Instead, Jaffe decided to start his own consultancy, Jaffe LLC, which he now operates out of Westport, Connecticut. The business works with marketers, agencies, publishers, and other businesses to help them understand and connect with their customers and clients through non-traditional and alternative mediums. As Jaffe himself describes it, much of his consulting consists of what he calls “Agency Relations.” He works with publishers to help them understand not only the agency world and their clients, but also how to build relationships with their clients, what their needs are, and how to sell smarter.

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