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5 Questions For David Feldt – MD, Organic Toronto

David Feldt
_As the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Organic’s Toronto office, David Feldt is responsible for managing all Canadian client relationships and business development efforts, focusing on the Financial Services, Automotive, and Communications sectors in both the U.S. and Canada._
_Most recently, David was VP, Managing Director at Blast Radius Toronto where he was responsible for new business development, client management, revenue growth, profitability, employee and customer satisfaction for Eastern Canada and the Central Region in the U.S._
_Prior to that, he was SVP, Global Practice Leader of Wunderman New York, leading a global team responsible for interactive marketing for IBM across eight countries._
*One Degree: Congratulations on the new gig! How have the first few days gone?*
Thanks Ken! In a word, exhilarating! What an auspicious week to join “Organic”: – just when the market is really taking notice. First, “Forrester Research”: named Organic as “a leader in both transaction-led and image-led website design”: Then, an article in the Wall Street Journal highlighting our innovative work on “The Mudds”: campaign for the Jeep Commander, some of which was created right here in Organic’s Toronto office.
Of course, I’ve a lot of time during my first week meeting with teams, particularly Dave Stubbs and Dave Sylvester, the creative force in the office, to get up to speed on the wonderful work that Organic is generating for both Canadian and U.S. clients. Everything that I’m learning validates my decision to join the agency.
*One Degree: Organic has had a very low profile in Canada over the last few years despite the large Toronto office and the great successes in the States. Do you see yourself growing Organic’s visibility and client base in Canada?*

This office does have an interesting history. In the beginning, when Troy Young, now the Chief Experience Officer, and Colleen DeCourcy, now the Chief Creative Officer, opened and grew the office, their focus was almost 100% on Canadian business. More recently, the pendulum has swung the other way with U.S. business representing a majority of the work.
One of my key mandates is to bring this more into balance and create a dynamic mix of exciting work from both countries. The bottom line is that Organic is committed to the Canadian market and helping Canadian brands succeed online by not only leveraging our creative firepower, but also tapping into the knowledge and expertise that exists across the entire Organic network and – more broadly – “Omnicom”:
One thing that most people don’t know is that the Toronto office has undergone a tremendous creative renaissance over the past six months with a new, energetic, and innovative team. I’m incredibly excited at the work we’re doing for Canadian clients, such as RBC, and U.S.-based clients, such as DaimlerChrysler. This is an exciting time to be here. You can almost feel it in the air when you walk into the office. This is the place where interesting things are happening.
*One Degree: You have more of a marketing/agency background and have headed to Organic from Blast while Idris Mootee who is a strategist with more of a consulting service background has taken exactly the opposite path. Do you see this as coincidence or does it speak a shift in market positions for both Organic and Blast Radius?*
Idris is a great marketer, but he left Organic five or six years ago and I’m not sure if the, “musical chairs,” reference is the one that I would use.
However, your observation about my marketing and agency background is spot-on. I’m really happy to be back in a true agency environment where I can once again be immersed in digital marketing and help Organic raise its brand awareness in Canada.
You and I have been in this industry a long time and we’ve both lived through the evolutions from brochureware to e-commerce to e-CRM to permission marketing and beyond. The world has evolved and we now live in a multi-channel, experiential economy where people value brands that deliver compelling and relevant experiences. Customers are now highly knowledgeable, active, technology-enabled, savvy, and empowered; they want to be active participants, not just passive observers. Digital touch points have proliferated and the broader digital channel is increasingly the central hub where customers spend significant time researching their considered purchases, engaging in dialogues, and transacting. By definition, the best online experiences are rooted in strategic insights that emerge from true customer empathy. Organic is focused on defining, creating, and delivering these highly relevant and immersive experiences. That is a very attractive value position and one that the market is responding to.
*One Degree: Given that something like 40% of online ad dollars are going to search, do you see a role for full service online agencies in helping companies with search engine marketing, or is this best left to specialty shops?*
It’s funny that you ask. Organic recently moved our search engine marketing (SEM) services in-house, in a large part because it is so strategic and needs to be evaluated within the context of holistic brand awareness and direct response campaigns. It’s a complicated and crowded marketplace because there are so many components involved with good search marketing: effective copywriting, landing page testing, message testing, pay-per click bid management, image ads, paid inclusion, local search, and the refinement of natural search listing results. And, let’s not forget about the analytics necessary to quantify and optimize results. After utilizing external SEM boutiques for some time, we ultimately brought it in-house because it really does require a big picture view grounded in deep experience and strong search engine relationships. So far, our clients are pleased with the changes and you’ll hear more about Organic’s SEM services over time.
*One Degree: We’ve been hearing more about a job boom _and_ a scarcity of senior talent with online experience. How will Organic attract the brightest and the best to fill all those open positions you have?*
As you know, we are fundamentally in the people and idea business. We’ll continue to attract the best and brightest by providing a creative, collaborative, and nurturing environment where people are empowered to practice their digital marketing craft for leading brands and be offered the opportunity to grow and learn as individuals. This is not just marketing-speak. We have hired over 100 people across the Organic network so far this year, many in the Toronto office. Organic tends to attract a certain kind of person. When we ask Organics, as we call ourselves, to describe what makes a great Organic, people consistently say, “strategic, great problem solvers, creative, innovative, have a can-do attitude, collaborators, and are obsessed with doing great work.” Aren’t these the kinds of people that you want to work to help top brands solve complex marketing problems online? I sure do.


  1. WorkerBee
    WorkerBee October 24, 2005

    You let him off the hook – i want to know what is going on in Toronto from a GM perspective! Feldt was released/zapped from Wunderman, in under 2 years he was zapped from Blast and then Organic hires him….did they not do their home work? Do clients not care that this is the 4th GM in as many years at Organic? Do they care that Feldt has bounced around the industry with little success in the past 3 years?

  2. online dude
    online dude October 24, 2005

    I agree with the previous post. I am new to this web site but I very much love the concept. That being said, I would like to see more hard hitting questions asked. After reading this interview and the previous ones, they all come across as fluff.
    Again, I love the concept of the web site but lets see a lot more meat in the interviews!

  3. John Smith
    John Smith October 30, 2005

    Not sure where the future is about for these firms, but the online marketing spend is growing and Organic is doing well. For Blast, I don’t know what it means when they hired a strategy heavyweight and not a interactive marketer as VP strategy, wonder where the company is heading? It will be interesting to see. Another one is, why would such a senior strategy consulting veteran join a small web firm like Blast??

  4. WebMogul
    WebMogul November 5, 2005

    I am new to this and there seems to be a sudden interest in these web firms. I wonder if this is the beginning of another boom cycle that typically follow by a fight of talents. There are not many senior people in this space. Many have long decided not to come back. David is someone that probably will stay in the business for a while, not sure about Idris will as he may be too smart for this business. We will see.

  5. WebDonkey
    WebDonkey January 30, 2006

    Blast Radius Toronto made a few wrong hires as their MDs and wonder who they will hire next. On the other hand, they must have big plans or otherwise they would not have hired a strategy top-gun like Idris. He is not a web guy. He does serious corporate work. I don’t think this company will follow the path of Organic or Razor Fish. There is a big chance that they will be acquired in 12 months or go public.

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