Some accomplishments aren’t recognised in awards (yes, even in advertising), but firsts. Glen Scott, our interviewee today, has racked up a fair few, including:
- The first ever branded YouTube homepage takeover.
- A branded Snapchat integration considered a keystone moment in the platform’s history.
- A never-been-done integration with GIPHY that required collaboration between the client, platform, agency, NFL, NFLPA, and 8 individual athletes and teams.
- The first VR game to incorporate real throwing mechanics and a volumetric capture pro athlete.
Glen is currently the executive creative director of VMLY&R West, based in Seattle. He's been part of the VMLY&R crew since 2015 but moved from Kansas to Seattle, which is the central hub of the agency's North American West region, mid-pandemic in 2020. VMLY&R West also incorporates Los Angeles and San Francisco and has a heavy focus on tech clients, doing work for Microsoft, Intel and Meta Quest, something that's "only natural, being in Seattle", according to Glen.
For nearly four years Glen was a lead creative on the ‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’ campaign for Las Vegas tourism. Immediately prior to joining VMLY&R, he was a founder of 1010 Collective, a creative and content agency based in Las Vegas. During that time the agency was one of two finalists for Las Vegas Small Business of the Year in 2014 and Glen was named to the Las Vegas 40 under 40.
LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Glen.
LBB> You've led creative for VMLY&R West since 2020 — how does working in advertising in Seattle differ to other cities you’ve worked in?
Glen> I moved here mid-pandemic, so I’m learning about the Seattle ad community every day. But even in my time here so far, I’ve experienced a really diverse creative community — agency-side, client-side, traditional, digital, social, AR/VR — you can find talent and opportunities across all of it. It’s clear this is a market people choose for both the great creative opportunities and the lifestyle. Everyone feels committed to making Seattle a great advertising scene.
LBB> How do you see the city creatively? What are major factors that influence and shape the city's advertising industry?
Glen> Seattle has been on my radar for as long as I can remember. When I was first getting started, Wexley School for Girls, Wongdoody and DDB Seattle were making work that really broke through. It was smart, rebellious and just plain fun. And by proxy, I assumed the agencies were the same. While Wexley and DDB are no longer here, there is great talent — all hungry to regain the prominence Seattle’s ad scene had in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Currently, the biggest influences on the city are the brands themselves — Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks. They all have big creative teams in-house, so the industry feels more comparable to San Francisco with a continuous transfer of creative talent back and forth between agency and in-house.
LBB> Tell me about the Seattle office of VMLY&R. What kind of work do you feel you do best? How does it sit within the wider North American network?
Glen> Seattle is the hub for our West region, but we also have offices in San Francisco and LA. We have a heavy focus on tech clients, doing work for Microsoft, Intel and Meta Quest. That’s only natural, being in Seattle. We also round out the client roster with Mazda, Driscoll’s Berries and lululemon.
Specifically, I think we’re outstanding at social. Social is a much more mature channel now compared even to five years ago. It’s the front door for brands to have an ongoing dialogue with their audience. Creatively, we’ve been able to push past the micro-content that social was known for. Now we create everything from long-form film content, custom activations, live broadcasts, creator partnerships, AR and more — all part of ‘social’. So, I like to consider our team to be ambidextrous creatives, able to bring to life the work however it will resonate best with the audience.
LBB> As an ECD, you're passionate about collaboration and fostering that among your teams. What are the techniques that you utilise to make that happen and why is it so important?
Glen> It may seem obvious but leading by example. I consider our strategy, channel, production and account teams partners in the work. We can’t have silos. One department can’t simply hand off to the next. We need to be in it together as partners throughout the process, and I encourage our teams to bring them in at every point of a project. I’m also a big connector. There’s always someone else that may have a unique perspective or skill we can tap into. Finding the right people, and the right time, to get our team introduced to others in the larger VMLY&R network has been helpful.
LBB> With that in mind, when it comes to the hard bits of a project, when you’re stumped, do you have a process or something you like to do to get past those tricky bits?
Glen> What works best for me personally is to ground myself in the audience. Going back to see what they’re talking about, watching for, listening to and saying about the brand. Coming back to a project after spending time in the audience’s mindset always helps me see things from a fresh perspective. The other piece is to talk things out with people whose opinions, and gut, I trust. Often those people may not even be working on that particular project but can help work through something I may be talking myself into or out of.
LBB> How do you assess whether an idea or a piece of work is truly creative? What are your criteria?
Glen> There are certain ideas that just stick. They start to follow you around after hearing them. They make you want to immediately go share with others to get them just as excited. They stand up to any pushing or prodding you do to make them bulletproof. Less criteria. More instinct.
LBB> How did you wind up in advertising in the first place? Was it a planned thing or a happy accident?
Glen> I took an advertising course at the University of Illinois that sold me on advertising as a career. I had been straddling design, film and creative writing up to that point. That class showed me I could do all of that in one role.
LBB> You founded an agency in Las Vegas, which is a city that doesn't have a ton of ad agencies. How did you wind up there? And how would you summarise the city creatively?
Glen> I started out in Las Vegas at R&R Partners soon after ad school, where I worked on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority ‘What happens here, stays here’ campaign. I leaned in and fell in love with the city and community as a whole. Fast-forward a few years, and I had the opportunity to start up an agency with a couple partners. We focused exclusively on digital and social, which was a unique offering in Las Vegas at the time. Working with a broader range of local and regional clients only made me appreciate the city more. People may think gaming runs Vegas, but to me creativity does. That city has been built on reinvention. Some of the most creative people in entertainment and experiential are operating there. It may just not be in the same spaces agencies traditionally occupy.
LBB> Your bio is stacked full of ‘firsts’ that you have been involved in. Is there one that you're most proud of or that feels particularly important? Why?
Glen> I’d say it’s more about the cumulative effect of working through those projects. It’s easy to throw something aside because it hasn’t been proven, or the path to get to a finished project is unclear. I really value the trust our clients have put in us to deliver these kinds of boundary-pushing ideas. I’d rather be the one setting the benchmark versus just trying to meet it. The one thing I’m most proud of is the relationships developed during the making of those projects, which are some of my tightest career friendships.
LBB> Which campaign from your career are you most proud of and why?
Glen> Vegas Bound. During the recession in 2008, people were worried if they came to Vegas to spend their vacation dollars, they wouldn’t be getting the same experience our ‘What happens here, stays here’ campaign promised. To prove the kind of experience you could have, we brought an entire small town — Cranfills Gap, Texas — to Vegas. We spent nearly a month in their town, getting to know them and preparing for the trip. Once in Vegas, we followed them around for three (sleepless) days and filmed the entire thing. The whole agency rallied as we needed an army of people to organise multiple unique storyline experiences. The resulting campaign included broadcast, print, social, over an hour of digital film content across multiple storylines and a feature-length documentary. A couple of folks from the town even made it on Jimmy Kimmel. That’s the kind of thing I love about advertising. What could start as a simple musing… “What if we flew out a whole town to Vegas?”… ends up as this wild experience that none of us will forget.
LBB> Outside of work, what do you like to do to stay inspired, happy and elaxed?
Glen> Relaxing is tough for me. It’s not in my nature. The daily thing I do to recharge or get inspired is walking my dog. I get out for some fresh air, sometimes with my family, sometimes alone, and will walk my dog, Fremont, around the neighbourhood with the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic range in the distance. I’ll listen to a podcast (often on film or music), call my friends and family, or just tune out to some new music. It’s a great way to learn a new neighbourhood and has helped provide some mental space that was previously occupied by commuting time.