Joseph Jaffe’s Interactive Passion Play

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Does he have any regrets about leaving the agency world behind? Even if he did, it’s hard to figure out what they are. “Where I am right now is where I’m most happy and…most productive,” Jaffe says. He is deeply philosophical about his career path, describing it as “a journey”—one of self discovery as much as anything else. The lesson he’s learned, he says, is that interactive is bigger than any one title or job description. “Interactive was always there,” he says. “It didn’t have to be in my title for me to ‘get it’ and for me to do something about it. And I think it’s the same thing today [with] creativity: you don’t have to have ‘creative’ in your title to be a creative. You don’t have to have ‘interactive’ in your title to be interactive.”

Title or no, Jaffe obviously has a passion for the interactive world and one of the ways he’s able to go about spreading his gospel is through his blog, JaffeJuice.com. Both the blog and the podcast it hosts (“Across the Sound”) evolved out of a weekly column Jaffe had been writing for iMediaConnection. They have become for him a way of practicing the new media doctrine he preaches. So too with his book, Life After the 30-Second Spot, which he describes as a static extension of his blog, allowing him to go in-depth with his continuing discussion on new media and new forms of interactive marketing.

“Right now interactive is the prom queen,” says Jaffe, “you cannot go to a conference now or be in a discussion without hearing the word interactive. The traditional side of the business [is] slowing down and restructuring, and the digital side of the business is taking off like a bat out of Hell. We’ve seen double digit and more than just double digit growth; [and] when I say double digit I don’t mean ten–I’m talking about in the 30’s and 40’s consistently now for the last two years. And it doesn’t seem like it’s going away.”

Perhaps precisely because of this outsize growth, Jaffe is also the first to caution the industry against greed and cluelessness. The question to be asking, he explains, is “are we hunkering down right now and doing the right things for the right reasons, or are we once again just being opportunistic and taking advantage of the fact that the other sides of the business are so lost and wayward and in dire need of an extreme makeover?”

With that caution in mind, Jaffe continues to encourage folks on both sides of the industry to look forward, and actively advocates on behalf of the interactive space every chance he gets. “There is no doubt in my mind that interactive is not just important, it’s [critical] to the very evolution and future of advertising and marketing,” Jaffe shares, gesturing, in closing, toward his belief that the internet is the key to integration. “In a lot of my presentations, I say, ‘Not only do I think the internet should be part of the integrated mix, I don’t think you have integration without the Internet.’

“The Internet is the integrator,” Jaffe says. If his life in advertising is any example, we’d have to agree.

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