Ana Andjelic - Digital strategist at Droga5

Ana Andjelic is digital strategist at Droga5, an independent advertising agency that is best described as creatively led, strategically driven, technology friendly and humanity obsessed. At Droga5, Ana brings contributes her digital knowledge and skills to a super-talented team of creatives, strategists and technologists. Prior to joining Droga5, Ana worked as digital planner at HUGE, Inc, The Barbarian Group, and Razorfish, where she combined consumers’ behavior with technological trends to help brands in digital space. Ana’s specialties are digital branding, digital marketing, social media and experience design. Ana sometimes speaks at industry events, and was a guest lecturer at Miami Ad School and HyperIsland. She also occasionally writes for Ad Age, and regularly shares her thoughts on her blog, I [love] marketing.

Ana Andjelic is a graduate of Columbia University, where she earned her Ph.D. in Sociology, and New School University where she got her M.A. in Media Studies. She is from Belgrade, Serbia and lives in New York City.

What are you working on right now?

I am working with an amazing team on the really fun projects at Droga5 and also plotting a website that would tell a story about things that I have learned in New York in the past 10 years. It would an interactive story told through photos, videos, quotes, maps, things, and people. I am excited about it.

Where did the idea for I [love] marketing come from?

As a professional in the evolving digital marketing industry, and having an academic background in technology and organizational studies, I felt a compelling need to combine my academic knowledge with the insights from my practical work. Often, there’s a yawning gap between academia and industry. Which is a bummer. But my blog was conceived mainly based on my need to provoke people to think differently. Or just to provoke them.

What does your typical day look like?

I get to work around 9, and from then on, it’s a fast-moving train. Sometimes I am on it, and sometimes under it. There’s a lot of thinking and talking to people on my teams. There’s also a lot of work on coming up with structured arguments for clients. Then, a lot of revisions and making my thoughts clearer and better. There’s also a lot of constructive friction in this process, which I love.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s a collaboration. It’s about recognizing the seed of an idea, testing a few of those with the creatives, and then working together to turn those into something that people will get excited about.

3 trends that excite you?

  1. Redistribution markets. It’s an amazing new space where people can connect directly to satisfy their needs, either through products or experiences. They barter, borrow, swap, rent, exchange. It’s an uncharted trade territory.
  2. Human irrationality. People are super-irrational creatures, and they respond to the most subtle clues and information designs and the choices of others. I’d love this to be explored more in digital marketing.
  3. Data as marketing. I always like to say that digital technology is society made visible. I can think of a lot of ways to turn this enormous data repository on human behaviors into useful and fun marketing.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I was once in an ad for some Internet provider in Belgrade. A horrible idea. I had to wear a skin-tight silver dress made of some super-polyesther material, have a really, really heavy makeup and some space-y hairstyle. But it’s not the Star Trek look that got me, it’s all the waiting around at the shoot for everything to be ready. I don’t know if I learned anything from it, really. Maybe that every job requires patience.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I could give myself advice now, going back, it would be one word: CHILL. I’ve always been in a horrible frenzy. If I gave myself more time to take things in, stop and think more, I would probably end up being happier. And would have driven people crazy less!

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Always meet new people. You never know who knows what and where an idea can come from. People are wonderful repositories of knowledge and insight. They are also fun to be around.

Tell us a secret…

I used to be terribly scared of awls. I am still wary of them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Stop making things. This world doesn’t need any more stuff. It needs smarter systems. It needs better ways to connect things that already exist. Become obsessed with connections, all sorts of connections – useful, fun, unexpected, helpful, informative. Then think how to insert things into them so that you create something new.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande. He talks about decision-making and problem-solving in complex environments. Everyone who ever wanted to make something in the digital space would find his thinking useful.

If you weren’t working at Droga5, what would you be doing?

I would probably be writing. I’d be writing more on my blog, for industry publications, I’d write a book. It would be a mesh of organizational thinking, technology, media, and human behavior. And it would be set in New York City.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

Noah Brier, @heyitsnoah – because he is the most wonderful, curious, humble and innovative person I know.

Diana Hong, @dddiana – because she is the coolest girl ever and the most amazing industry professional.

Bud Caddell, @bud_caddell – because he is really passionate about knowledge and isn’t shy about it.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

My boyfriend makes me laugh all the time. He has a wonderful way of looking at the world and the most articulate way of conveying his observations on life’s curiosities.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Dan Ariely.

How do you see digital strategy evolving in the digital world, where things are hard to assess and predict?

I think that we need to come up with a way to think about strategy a bit differently. Less linear, more system-like. More improvisation, more trying things out, less prediction and less singular answers.


Follow me on Twitter at @andjelicaaa. Also check out my blog, I [love] marketing and my presentations on Slideshare.